Elrond dropped down on his knees and looked down into the ravine.
Aragorn lay on his back, unmoving, the bag holding the lhyguan he had
captured rested near his head. The lizards on the floor of the
grotto had scattered when the two bodies fell amongst them, but the
initial shock was wearing off and they began to converge on the ranger,
hissing and growling angrily at the disturbance. In their native
pattern of aggressive behavior several of the males began displaying
the warning signs of attack, their mouths opened wide to show off the
sharp incisors that were actually hollowed out to deliver their
venomous poison. Snapping their jaws shut with loud clicks they
advanced on the human warily.
Elrond shouted to his son but, when the man did not move, the elf lord
quickly began looking for a way to climb down into the cavern.
Aragorn groaned softly; he ached and for a moment he wasn’t sure why or
where he was. He could hear his father calling his name and
strange rustling and moving sounds as though others were close by, but
consciousness was slow to return and comprehending his condition lagged
“Don’t move, Estel!” Elrond called from his position on the rock
face, quickly searching out another handhold as he made his way to the
grotto floor much more slowly than he would have liked.
But the lhygians were not fooled and the human’s lack of movement only
meant the large creature would be easier to incapacitate. Smelling an
easy meal they crawled back towards the ranger, intent on
The reptile in the bag that lay near Aragorn’s head heard his
companions and threw himself into a frenzy trying to find a way
out. The top of the sack slapped the man in the face, bringing
startlingly awake and instantly aware of his situation. The
ranger sat up quickly, glancing around him at the creatures that
surrounded him. His back ached fiercely but he had no time to
assess his injuries as a large male lhyguan jumped at him, fangs
bared. Aragorn scooted quickly out of reach of its snapping jaws,
kicking the lizard away from him with his boots. There was no way
around the creatures that encroached on him, and the walls of the
were too far away for safety.
Looking desperately about him, the human spied his only hope of
protection. Behind him lay the two stone slabs that had fallen
from the walls of the grotto. They lay one atop the other, braced
on smaller rocks so that there was a good-sized crevice underneath
them, forming a perfect hiding place. Grabbing the sack that held
the captured lhyguan, Aragorn scooted underneath the dark overhang. He
pressed his body back as far as he could, trying to see if the
semi-dark held any hidden lizards. Fortunately for him, it seemed
as though the entire lhygian population was out in the bright sun,
trying to warm bodies that were naturally cool, so the shaded area was
free from any threat. At least from the inside, where he lay
trapped. Outside the small cave, the lhygians were enraged.
They charged the opening of the crevice snapping and hissing, their
long clawed feet digging underneath the fallen rocks, trying to catch
hold of the ranger and drag him out.
A set of sharp talons scraped across his shoulder and Aragorn cried out
in pain. Picking up a small rock he bashed the stone down against
the reptilian foot that was clawing for him again. A shrieking
cry from the grotto let him know he had dealt the creature a serious
The lhygians scattered back as one of their own howled in pain; their
quarry was not going as easily as they had thought. The perceived
threat to their territory escalated and they watched, waiting
to see what would happen next.
Taking the moment of inattention, Aragorn reached out and snagged the
broken branches of the small tree he had used for leverage up on the
wall of the cave. Movement by the intruder set the nest off once
more and, as he drug the trunk in with him, Aragorn was forced to use
the prickly barbed branches as a shield between himself and the lizards
trying to unsuccessfully to reach him.
The lhyguan in the sack had finally gotten its teeth through the burlap
and sank its fangs into the heel of his boot. Without thinking
Aragorn slammed his fist against the top of the lizard’s head,
dislodging its teeth and driving it to the floor of the cave. The
creature relaxed and did not move. He hoped he hadn’t killed it;
if he got out of this alive there was no way he was going to try to
capture another one of them.
Aragorn heard his father’s urgent calls.
For his part,
Elrond was beside himself with worry. He dropped down onto a
ledge a few feet from the bottom of the grotto. A lhyguan resting
on the shelf turned towards him, snapping its wide jaws at the
elf. With a swift, vicious kick the elf lord dislodged the
creature and sent it sprawling back into the mass of writhing reptile
bodies below it.
Elrond could no longer see his son amidst the teeming throng of
lhygians. The possibility... no, probability, that Aragorn was
buried under that mass was sending ribbons of horror and nausea
rippling throughout the elf’s consciousness.
“Estel, answer me!” he called, raising his voice above the sounds
of the lizards that moved below him. Unsheathing his sword, the
elf lord dropped the last few feet to the floor of the cavern. A
snapping reptile lunged at Elrond and he sliced the creature in half
mid-jump, kicking the dead body away from him and clearing a path
before him with smooth, rapid moves as he made his way swiftly and with
methodical grace towards the rocks his son had taken refuge
“Father! Under here, I can’t get out! I’m trapped!” Aragorn
finally responded, shoving the branches viciously at one of the lizards
that was trying to wrestle through the foliage.
Lashing out with his sword and using his boot toes as weapons, Elrond
was able to fight his way to the mound of rocks that covered his
son. Leaping lightly atop the rocky formation, the elf lord
out at a mid-sized lhyguan that was using the slab as a resting
place. The lizard’s body tumbled off the side of the natural
shelter and rolled into the frenzy around Estel.
Their ire peaked; the lizards on the ground tore the one that the elf
had kicked over the ledge to pieces.
Quickly removing his cloak, Elrond began beating back the lhygians that
clogged the entrance to the crevice where Estel was hiding. The
dark flying object startled them and they began to scurry out of the
way. The elf could hear his son speaking to him and his heart
calmed a bit. His initial reaction to seeing the human
overwhelmed by the creatures had frightened him more than he wanted to
“Estel, when I tell you to, come out quickly!” Elrond’s voice was
taut, but controlled.
“Yes, Father!” The ranger kicked at a lhyguan that had locked its teeth
around the hard leather of this his boot sole. The creature would
not let go and he slammed his foot against the roof of the rocky
enclosure. The heat on the floor of the grotto was intense; sweat
beaded on his face and ran through his hair, plastering the wayward
strands against his neck and cheeks, but the ranger didn’t let go of
shrub he was using as a shield; it was his only defense.
The lizard that had locked its jaw on his boot released its grip and
twisted quickly on its side, opening its mouth and reaching for the
ranger’s calf, intent on sinking its fangs into the leg muscle.
Aragorn tried to scoot farther back. He saw the reptile moving in
and felt its jaw graze his leg, but the lhyguan let go at the last
moment, its head falling down near his thigh as its body jerked
spasmodically. The ranger noticed with a mixture of disgust and
relief that the creature had been cut in two.
“Now Estel! NOW!” His father called to him from directly above, pulling
his sword back to his side and swiping swiftly at another beast that
came too close.
Needing no further prompting, the ranger rolled out from under the
crevice, pushing the branches of the bush out before him and crouching
just beyond the opening of his shelter. His father knelt above
him on the rocks, extending his hand down to the human, but Aragorn
leaned back into the dark interior, quickly grabbed the burlap sack,
and swung it into his father’s open hand.
Without thought the elf lord tossed the sack aside next to him and
reached back down, grabbing the collar of Aragorn’s overcoat and
pulling the young man up with him onto the large rock.
Aragorn was breathing hard and trying to calm his racing heart.
He wiped his
forehead against the sleeve of his coat.
Elrond quickly looked the human over. His son seemed to be all
right despite the fall into the cave, but he also realized the ranger
was running on adrenaline and any injuries he might have taken would be
discovered later in the day when the danger was far behind them.
“Are you ready?” Elrond gripped Aragorn’s arm tightly and
redirected the young man’s gaze. The human was staring at the
floor of the grotto as the lhygians pressed underneath the rocks,
looking for their prey, not quite yet seeming to realize that it had
moved away. He glanced up at the elf lord. Taking in a deep
breath and letting it out slowly, he nodded.
Aragorn noticed for the first time that his father held a bloodied
sword in one hand and his tattered cloak in the other. The
lizards had latched onto the elven fabric, ripping the edges of it as
he beat them back from the opening of the tiny cave his son had been
Estel touched his father’s shoulder gently, searching the intense blue
eyes that watched him, “Are you alright, Father?” he asked in
elvish. Those words came so much easier to him when under stress
than common did.
Glancing back up to the edge of the ravine, the elf lord nodded.
“Yes, I am, but we need to get out of here and back to Émuseld
quickly. I shouldn’t like to be here when they figure a way to
up.” He nodded towards where the Lhygians were now trying to
clamber up the sides of the ledge the elf and the ranger were standing
on. So far they were finding the sides too slick to climb up from
the ground, but eventually they would realize they had only to climb
the wall behind in order to reach the ledge. “And I fear that
every moment now may be critical for Legolas.” He stooped to
retrieve the burlap sack, hefting the heavy bulk over his
shoulder. “Is it dead? I need it alive, Estel.” He
questioned as he felt the limp creature against his back.
“I hit it on the head. It grabbed my boot and I couldn’t get it
to let go. I don’t think
I hit it hard enough to kill
it,” Aragorn admitted, glancing around them at the lhygians, most
of which had now tired of trying to reach the elf and the human but
still clogged their only path back. When he looked up again he
noticed that Elrond was slowly turning around, sizing up the cliff
walls with his sharp eyes.
“There.” The elf lord pointed to the wall on the left. The
cliff face was riddled with pockets and ledges: easy hand holds for a
quick climb out of the grotto.
Shrugging out of his overcoat the ranger nodded and jumped off the
rock, beating back the creatures that scuttled out of his way.
With a well placed kick he slammed the soft underbelly of a dominant
male with his boot toe, lifting the creature off the ground and
flinging it into the middle of a mating fight. The chaos that
erupted as the lhygians were interrupted drew the attention of the
reptiles that were nearby. The rest that were unfortunate enough
not to move out of the way were forcefully shoved aside by the elf and
the man as they made their way to the cavern wall.
Aragorn leapt up to the lowest ledge. Turning quickly on his boot
heels, he knelt and extended his hand down, grasping his father’s
forearm and pulling the elf up next to him.
Elrond balanced easily on the thin shelf. He turned to look up
and find the next foothold when the lhyguan in the sack he carried
suddenly came to life. The reptile thrashed against the elf
lord’s back, startling Elrond, and he dropped the sack on the ledge
to him. The trapped creature hissed from within its burlap
prison. With a slightly amused look Aragorn glanced from the sack
to the elf.
“I guess I didn’t kill it after all.” He smiled as his father
shook his head and breathed deeply.
“I would guess not.” Glancing back above them Elrond pulled
himself up to the next foothold. “Hand that thing up to me when I reach
the ledge above.”
It took them longer than they expected to make it to the lip of the
grotto. Lugging along a struggling burlap sack had not made the
task any easier.
Elrond knelt on the edge and pulled Aragorn up. The ranger lay
down in the long waving grasses on his stomach and just rested for a
moment. Elrond sat down next to him with a heavy sigh, his hand
resting lightly on the human’s back between his shoulders.
“Let’s not do that again, shall we?” Aragorn muttered from his prone
“Are you hurt, my son?” Elrond questioned, “That was quite a fall
Aragorn didn’t move. In all truth he wasn’t sure he was all
right. With all the fighting and in the attempt to escape as
quickly as possible he hadn’t allowed the minor aches and pains to even
touch his mind, but now...
Breathing in a deep sigh the ranger turned slowly over onto his back
and stared up into the blue eyes of his father. A small smile
tugged at his lips.
“Well?” Elrond couldn’t help the slight worry that tinged his
With a quiet laugh Estel closed his eyes and relaxed. “I think tomorrow
I may ache... quite a bit, but right now I am fine.” He turned to
look over his shoulder, pulling at the tattered edges of his shirt and
gingerly fingered the cuts in his shoulder that one of the lhygians had
inflicted. The deep scratches stung a bit. “Well, maybe
just a scratch.” He mumbled under his breath, half grinning at the
irony of what had now become a much-used phrase as well as a joke
between he and Legolas... Legolas. Aragorn’s mind once
re-focused on his friend with worried urgency.
When Elrond simply continued to stare at the young human, Aragorn
pressed himself up on his elbows and met the stern stare, “Father, I am
fine. Or at least, I will be. Nothing life-threatening, I
promise.” He stressed each syllable as the smile that crossed his
face even wider. Was he forever going to be having this
conversation with his father? Or come to that, any elf he
traveled with? The bag near his hip thrashed wildly and the
ranger flinched, scooting away from the trapped lhyguan. “Besides it is
Legolas who needs our help now.”
“I will want to see to those cuts on your back before the day is
through.” The older elf stared hard into the smiling eyes of his
youngest son. “We don’t need any more surprises.”
With a slight nod, Estel resisted the urge to roll his eyes, “Yes,
Reaching out, the ranger grabbed the tied off top of the sack and stood
slowly to his feet, holding the bag away from his body until the
reptile calmed down. Moving quickly he grasped the lizard behind
the head, holding the thick neck in one hand and tucked the lhyguan,
bag and all under his arm, pinning the reptile against him. His
shoulder ached but he ignored the pain. A loud hiss answered the
imprisonment, but the animal stopped moving.
“How sure are you that you can re-create an antidote?” he asked
his elven father once more, just to settle the fears that nipped at his
Elrond stood to his feet, retrieving Aragorn’s overcoat and his own
cloak from where they lay on the ground.
“Very sure, Estel.” The elf lord replied patiently once more as
beat the cloth against his leg before securing his cloak quickly around
his neck, “But if what Éomund said is true, about the ferocity
and toxicity of the poison, then we best return with all haste. I
will need every moment we can spare to create a new antidote.”
With a curt nod Aragorn paced his father as they ran back to
Émuseld. The danger of the lhyguan grotto fell away with
every step as they headed back and the dread of Legolas’ future began
to weigh heavy on his mind once more.
When they reached the ranch house, Aragorn passed the captured lhyguan
off to his father who headed immediately for the kitchen area of the
living quarters, calling out to one of the soldiers to follow him and
bring the elf lord’s knapsack with him. The human, however, moved
quickly to the back of the house, seeking out the room where he had
Aragorn heard his father’s voice behind him as he walked swiftly away,
“Estel, I may need your help before this over.”
“Yes, Father,” the young human replied quietly, knowing full well
the elf had heard him, but intent on seeing to the welfare of his
Helm met him in the hallway and the grim countenance of the soldier’s
face sent icy shockwaves through Aragorn’s heart.
The soldier saw the look on the other man’s face change as Aragorn
quickly tried to push by him and he caught the Dùnadan’s
shoulders, stopping him. “Thorongil, wait,” he bid him quietly.
Aragorn paused and looked into the Rohirrim’s eyes, fearing what he
would find. “Is... is he...”
“No,” the horse soldier shook his head quickly. “He still lives,
but... I am not sure for how long. Thorongil, listen to me!” Helm
was insistent as he caught and held the younger man’s arm when Aragorn
tried to push past him again after hearing those dreadful words.
“I have seen cases of lhyguan poisoning before,” Helm kept his voice
low so the conversation was just between he and Aragorn. “And I
have never seen anyone fail quite this fast. I don’t understand
it. I have said nothing to him about this... sometimes hope is the best
medicine one can offer. I’m sorry to have to tell you, but you
seem to be close to him and I thought someone should know. I’m
sorry.” The soldier’s manner was gruff and yet his eyes showed
“I put salve on his wounds to close them. They aren’t bleeding anymore
and he’s still conscious, but he is not doing well. And... and I
wanted to warn you. Sometimes in the late stages of its
progression this venom renders the victim unable to speak or respond,
but they’re still in there. If,” Helm looked gently into the
hurting eyes of the younger man. “If that happens... it means his
time is almost up, but... just talk to him. Just be there with
him so he knows he’s not alone. Sometimes that’s the last gift we
can give them.” Helm’s voice was quiet and his eyes spoke of much
hard-earned and hard-learned experience. He had seen many men
die, on the battlefield and off it. He knew of what he
Aragorn swallowed raggedly around the choking obstruction that was
beginning to constrict his throat, unable to respond. Helm seemed
to understand and just released the ranger’s arm, inclining his head
towards the bedroom.
Aragorn nodded numbly and quickly entered the room. Legolas was
lying still on the bed. His face and his hands, folded on his
chest, were almost as pale as the bed coverings. For half an
instant Aragorn’s heart stopped beating. Then the elf’s eyes
fluttered open, having heard the familiar footsteps.
“Estel?” Legolas said somewhat blearily. Blinking the young man
into focus the elf graced his friend with a weary, rueful smile.
“Sorry, Thorongil I mean,” the elf’s voice was hoarse and faint, but
still managed to carry humor in it. “And you were worried about you remembering what you’re going
by today,” the elf murmured.
“I do hope you realize what a terrible bother it is for your
friends...” The elf broke off, coughing into his hand, his
wheezing a little as he pressed his head back against the pillows,
closing his eyes for a moment.
When he opened them again Aragorn was sitting on the side of the bed
and holding his hand gently, pressing the back of his other hand to
Legolas’ burning forehead. The young man’s eyes betrayed his
heart-rending concern although he was trying to hide it from his
“We captured one of the creatures. Father’s working on the antidote
right now. How are you feeling, Legolas?”
Legolas smiled, tightening his fingers around his friend’s where they
lay clasped against his chest. “That, my friend, would qualify as
one of those stupid questions people ask when they do not know what to
say,” he said with a small chuckle. “I feel miserable.”
Aragorn allowed himself to laugh, although it stuck a little in his
throat as he brushed the elf’s damp hair back from his face.
Legolas sighed. “What is it now? You are terrible at hiding
things from me, you know, and I’m too tired to guess, so you had better
just tell me.”
Aragorn didn’t answer right away and Legolas’ fever-bright eyes
narrowed. “It’s Helm, isn’t it? He said something to
you. He’s a good man, Est - Thorongil, but he worries too much...
I’m going to be fine,” the prince assured with confidence, although
Aragorn could feel the elf’s body trembling under his hand as if the
prince was very cold. “With two such remarkable healers as you
and Lord Elrond here, how could I not be?” Legolas grinned, trying to
get his friend to smile back.
Aragorn did, clasping the elf’s hot fingers and bringing them up to his
lips in a gentle kiss. “Of course you will be, mellon-nín.”
Legolas started coughing again, the spasms nearly seeming to cut off
his airway. Alarmed, Aragorn quickly helped his
friend sit up, wrapping his arm around Legolas’ shoulders and holding
him as the wracking coughs shook the elf’s slender frame. In a
momentary lull, Legolas let his head fall back to rest lightly against
“This is more or less where we started, isn’t it, dear friend?” the elf
rasped softly between wheezing breaths. He could tell his body
was failing, not matter what he tried to pretend for Aragorn.
“You remember? The poisoned trap, in Mirkwood...” Another choking
cough. “We didn’t trust you then... I didn’t... I’m sorry.
I feel as if that were a lifetime ago somehow, in another world...”
Legolas let his fingers drift weakly up to touch Aragorn’s arm as he
turned around, seeking the ranger’s eyes.
Aragorn barely remembered the incident at this moment, but it came back
when the prince mentioned it. The human shook his head, trying to
silence the elf. “Shh, save your strength, Legolas, it’s all
“Maybe...” Legolas leaned away a little, concentrating on breathing as
he tried to force air into his sluggish lungs. “But...
Estel? I wanted you to know... If... If I...” the prince trailed
off and did not finish. “I’m glad our differences did not keep us
apart,” he said instead, with a small smile. “Or we would have
missed discovering how much we had in common.”
“I am glad too, Legolas.” Aragorn had to look away and blink a
times before he was safe to meet his friend’s eyes again, but the
prince’s eyelids were closed now and he seemed to be struggling.
Another coughing fit seized the prince and this time it did not
Each convulsion left the elf gasping and reeling for air as the toxins
in his blood swelled his airways closed more and more. The
coughing gave way to rapid, shallow wheezing and Legolas’ hand
tightened in Aragorn’s sleeve, balling desperately as the elf slumped
forward, fighting to draw air into his lungs.
Frightened, Aragorn scooted further onto the bed, pulling Legolas back
against his chest and putting his hand on the elf’s heaving diaphragm.
The prince’s body was tense, scared and spasming. Legolas’
crystal blue eyes were wide with the desperate struggle for oxygen and
the fear only made his aching lungs and airways tenser. This had
been happening more and more frequently as the poison progressed, but
this was the first time it had actually stopped his breathing
“Shhh, breathe deep, Legolas, slowly, slowly...” Aragorn pushed his own
fear aside so that his body would be a calming presence for his
friend. Taking slow, deep breaths himself he held Legolas back
against his chest so that the elf could feel the steady rise and
fall. “Don’t be afraid, breathe with me, come on, Legolas,
with me, slowly...”
Legolas gasped desperately. He could breathe out, but no air
seemed to come in to replace it, leaving a vacuum in his lungs that
made bright flashes dance before his eyes. He felt Aragorn’s
warm, calming presence surround him, willing him to breathe, willing
air to return to his lungs. He felt the human’s chest rise and
fall at his back and tried to match his own, frantic gasps to that
“In and out, Legolas,” Aragorn soothed softly, whispering into his
friend’s ear as his hand pressed encouragingly against the elf’s chest,
rubbing soft circles in synch with his breathing. “In... and
out... and in...” he was relieved to feel the elf’s body beginning to
respond and risked breaking his concentration away for a moment.
“ADA!” he called urgently, lifting his head and turning away so he
wasn’t shouting in Legolas’ ear. “Lord Elrond!” he quickly
corrected himself, although it didn’t matter since Helm was the only
one to hear them and he wouldn’t know what the elvish word meant.
Elrond came quickly when he heard the alarmed tone in his son’s voice
and he saw the two friends on the bed. The elf prince’s lips were
tinged blue but his breathing was beginning to slow and gradually match
itself to the deep, relaxed pace of the Dùnadan behind him.
“He can’t breathe,” Aragorn informed quickly, although Elrond had
already guessed the trouble.
Checking the prince’s pulse, the elf lord found that Legolas’ heart was
racing erratically. Gently Elrond laid his hand on the younger
elf’s chest, above Aragorn’s, willing the swelling airways to open.
Slowly the gasping wheezes became steadier and more regular as Legolas
felt air beginning to seep back into his tortured lungs.
When Legolas was finally breathing on his own again, Elrond
straightened up. Aragorn kept holding him just in case, however,
and the elf prince slumped limply back against his shoulder,
exhausted. Perspiration soaked the elf’s light tunic and clung to
his clammy brow. Aragorn felt Legolas’ weak breaths stir his hair
and his heart ached, he hated to see his friend like this.
“Well that was fun...” Legolas muttered weakly with an apologetic smile
as he turned his head towards Aragorn.
“You have an odd idea of fun, my friend,” Aragorn shook his head with a
small, encouraging smile.
“And you have an odd idea of
staying out of trouble,” the elf
observed, glancing meaningfully at the torn shirt and deep red
scratches across Aragorn’s other shoulder which the prince could see
Aragorn chuckled softly and shifted Legolas a little. “Are you
feeling good enough to lie down again? I’ll be right back.”
Legolas nodded and Aragorn scooted around, letting the prince ease back
against the pillows.
Touching Elrond’s arm lightly Aragorn questioned, “Do you need any help
with the lhyguan?”
Elrond could tell that the human wanted to talk to him alone, out of
Legolas’ earshot. The elf lord nodded. “Helm is helping me
but he’s a little... leery about holding the creature still while I get
the sample I need.”
Aragorn followed the elf lord back towards the kitchen, pausing for a
moment in the doorway and fixing Legolas with a concerned look.
“You will be all right for a few moments, won’t you?”
Legolas rolled his eyes and waved his hand, gesturing for the ranger to
leave. “Go! You know I hate it when you hover.”
Aragorn shook his head and quickly caught up with his father.
“It’s progressing much faster than it should,” Elrond spared Aragorn
from having to explain his worries once they were in the kitchen again,
but he kept his voice low to avoid Legolas’ elvish hearing.
Aragorn nodded, worry etched into his face. “Helm said...”
“I know,” Elrond nodded, his deep eyes grave. “He told me the
same and I could feel as much in the prince’s body. Aragorn, I
cannot be sure, but it is my guess that this poison affects elves more
seriously than it does humans. Much more seriously. I fear
we do not have as much time as we thought.”
Aragorn nodded, blinking rapidly to keep the sting behind his eyes
contained. Somehow hearing his own fears confirmed from his
father’s mouth brought it home even more painfully.
“Estel,” Elrond whispered quietly, catching the young man’s
shoulder. “Do not despair. It just means that I will have
to work twice as fast to get the antidote ready. Now help me with
our scaly friend here...” the elf lord led Aragorn towards the table
where the captive lhyguan was still thrashing around in its sack.
It had nearly eaten through one end and it was high time to do
something with it.
With Aragorn and Helm’s help Elrond was able to get a sample of the
creature’s venom before it was quickly placed in a new sack. The
Rohirrim was for killing it, but Elrond’s say on the matter prevailed
and instead Helm reluctantly agreed to take it back up into the hills a
ways and release it.
Aragorn was chafing to get back to Legolas, and Elrond wasn’t sure how
wise it was to leave him alone either, so after the elf lord had
collected the various things he needed, both of them returned to the
bedroom. To be successful in recreating the AntiVen in the
ever-shrinking amount of time they had left, Elrond would need Legolas’
Legolas’ weary eyes raised to greet them, but he did not speak.
He was feeling too tired... much too tired...
He answered Elrond’s questions about the flavor, consistency and size
of the dosage he had been on, but even that seemed to weary the weak
elf and as Elrond put his full focus on the mixture he was creating in
a small bowl on Freca’s night-table, silence fell over the room.
Aragorn was sitting next to Legolas on the bed once more, when the
prince tugged softly on his sleeve. “I don’t... feel well...” the
elf murmured, his face creased in pain as he rolled onto his side,
clutching his stomach.
It took a moment, but when Aragorn realized what his friend meant he
hurriedly retrieved a large kettle from the kitchen since Legolas was
too weak to get out of the bed. Helping the elf sit up and
holding his shoulders supportively as the prince curled over the
Aragorn gently rubbed Legolas’ back as the elf retched, involuntarily
loosing the contents of his stomach. The prince’s tentative
breathing hitched and choked, not helped at all by the nauseous spasm
of his stomach.
If he had been feeling better Legolas would have been embarrassed by
the loss of control over his body that he was experiencing, but as it
was his head hurt too violently and he was too ill to feel much of
Aragorn cared for his friend with great tenderness, holding Legolas
until he was done and then helping him lay back down again, bringing a
cool drink of water to wash his mouth with and a damp cloth to lay
against his hot forehead.
Legolas gazed up at the ranger with a small, grateful smile. “Is
this what it is like to be sick?” he murmured hoarsely, remembering
when Aragorn had been ill some time ago and he had very naïvely
wondered what it felt like. The elf chuckled wryly. “I
don’t know how you humans survive...”
Aragorn smiled, dabbing his friend’s face with the cooling cloth.
“Yes, this is what it feels like to be sick. Welcome to the
wonderful world of being mortal.”
Legolas moaned slightly. “I’d like to leave again, thank
Aragorn laughed. “Soon my friend, soon...”
Silence stretched between them for a few moments, and Legolas shifted
his position feverishly. He’d rather talk to Aragorn then just
lie here and hurt with no distraction, but he was too weak to do much
talking himself. Instead he asked a question.
“What was it like?”
“What was what like?” Aragorn didn’t understand.
“The mirror... what was it like when you looked in the fabled mirror of
the Lady of the Golden Wood?” Legolas made his question clearer.
“I have heard stories about it, but half thought it to be a
fable. I have been wanting to ask you since you told me.”
Aragorn realized that Legolas needed distraction from his pain and was
only too glad to help in any way he could. “Well, it was like
nothing I have ever experienced before. I saw so many things... I
don’t think I was even consciously aware of everything I saw.
Some things it was more as if I felt them than saw them, and some
things were very clear...” Aragorn intentionally did not talk about
what he had seen concerning Legolas, because as he sat here holding his
friend’s hand those horrifying memories simply hurt too much.
“I saw a lot of things I didn’t understand, and some that seemed to
come out of stories of long ago. I also saw myself and my
brothers when I was younger and some things that I hope were only
fantasy, and not the future, such as Rivendell surrounded by enemies,
awash in a dark sea of orcs...”
“That was no fantasy at least,” Elrond put in quietly from the corner
of the room he was working in. “Nor was it the future. That
was the past you saw. The long distant past... before either of
you were born. Before the fall of Sauron.”
“Really? I never realized they were that close,” Aragorn shuddered
Legolas watched with sleepy contentment. He liked listening to
Aragorn and Elrond talk. It eased his headache even if his weary
mind could hardly follow what they said.
“They were,” Elrond nodded as he carefully measured out a spoonful of
amber liquid from a little vial he had taken out of Freca’s supply
cabinets. The horse breaker had had quite a store of herbs and
medicines on hand, and the elf lord didn’t have too much trouble
guessing what they were, either by sight, taste or smell.
“It was a war that we in the west nearly lost. Rivendell held out
a long time, but we could not have lasted forever. Mithlond, the
Grey Havens, were about to fall, although Gil-Galad and all that were
left of his folk defended them with their lives. Sauron almost
had the mastery he desired. It was the Númenoreans, your
ancestors, my son, who turned the tide. They sailed into the
Mithlond from Númenor in their tall ships and drove the forces
of Sauron back before them like chattel.”
The soft, quick smile that Elrond graced his youngest son with seemed a
wish to remind Aragorn that there was much good and bravery in his
heritage, as well as the weakness that he knew the young man feared.
Legolas’ eyelids felt heavy. “I learn something new whenever I am
with you both...” he murmured. “They never told those stories in
“I fear, young Greenleaf, that your father was not over-fond of men and
so it does not much surprise me that tales of them did not take a large
place in your upbringing. No more than you probably heard of the
courage of Durin and how he and his fellow dwarves were the only thing
that saved my warriors and I when we were overcome by orcs near the
Mines of Moria during that same war,” Elrond said with a small
“Dwarves?” Legolas cocked an eyebrow slightly. “No, I don’t think
you’d ever hear my father or anyone in his earshot who had any sense
say a good word about them. But at least some things have
changed...” Legolas squeezed Aragorn’s hand weakly, pulling it up to
rest on his chest.
For the first time he noticed the fading blisters on the fingers of
Aragorn’s left hand. The prince’s brow creased in foggy
concern. “Don’t tell me those creatures burned you as well as
“No,” Aragorn shook his head with a rueful grin. “That... well,
it seems that Galadriel’s mirror does not like to be disturbed,” he
said very quickly, knowing what the elf would say.
Legolas actually smiled full-out. “You touched it didn’t
you? I swear, Aragorn,
you touch everything!”
“You know he’s been like that since he was a child,” Elrond put in
helpfully, glad for anything that made the elf prince smile.
“Go ahead and laugh,” Aragorn muttered good-naturedly. “Both of
you. But if it weren’t for my insistence we wouldn’t be here
“And I’m glad you’re here, Estel,” Legolas whispered quietly, his eyes
beginning to glaze. “Whatever happens...” he coughed slightly and
shifted his position. “I’m glad you’re here.”
Then the prince seemed to drift away and his eyes unfocused, staring
into space. His hand slid limply out of Aragorn’s and fell back
to his side.
A nearly paralyzing zing of terror shot through Aragorn’s heart as he
groped after the prince’s limp hand with fingers that had been burned
in the same attempt not so long ago. But this was no vision now,
it was real. Horribly so.
“Legolas? Legolas!” the ranger cried his friend’s name as he
clasped the slender, lifeless fingers to his heart, but the elf did not