Chapter 2: Rebellious Prince
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Choking and coughing Aragorn batted at the air in front of his face
trying to clear the dust from the immediate area. The shallow
cavern was too confined to escape the polluted air and he had to wait
for the silt to clear on its own. A few of the smaller rocks
tumbled down the face of the wall in front of them, scattering across
the floor of the cavern. One smashed down forcefully on Aragorn’s
left ankle and he stifled a cry as the boulder settled against his
The rocks stopped moving with a groan, readjusting to new constraints
and shifted weights. Aragorn surmised with sudden clarity that
the townsfolk had probably never intended for he and Legolas to survive
the cave-in. They were hoping that the shallow indentation the
two had been thrown into would have collapsed on them and killed them
instantly. He wasn’t sure if surviving the cave-in was a blessing
or a curse. He was pretty sure they wouldn’t last much
longer. Without water and food it would be a matter of
days. If their supply of air was cut of by the shifting rock
wall, it could be a matter of hours.
Pain shot up his leg from where it rested under the boulder. He
noticed that Legolas was curled into a fetal position trying to catch
Gently grabbing the elf’s shoulders he pulled the prince back into his lap.
“Legolas?” The soft question sounded strangely loud in the stillness
that had reoccupied the cave. “Are you all right? Where you
injured?” He brushed blonde strands of hair away from the elf’s
face. Rock dust coated them both, smudging their faces a sooty
The elf simply nodded by way of answering. He had finally gotten
his breathing under control and was trying to shunt the pain
“Legolas?” Aragorn’s voice took on a more worried tone.
“It is well,” Legolas panted softly. “I just couldn’t catch my
breath for a moment.” He relaxed back into Aragorn’s arms, his
eyes fearfully glancing at the rock wall that hovered over them.
“I do not think they meant for us to survive this long.”
“I agree. Let us hope that they will be found wrong on all
accounts and we will escape,” Aragorn commented wryly. He winced
as his ankle began to throb.
“What is it?” Legolas asked. Shifting, he eased himself up so he could
see the far wall. A dark irregular shape rested against Aragorn’s
leg, pinning his ankle in place. The prince scooted stiffly
around and placed his booted foot on the rock and kicked at it trying
to push it off.
Seeing his intent, Aragorn placed the heel of his right boot against
it. Together they both pressed the same side of the rock, sliding
it slightly to the right and tipping it off its base. It rolled a
pace towards the rockface and stopped giving Aragorn enough room to
pull his foot away from it. His ankle throbbed worse now that it
was freed and he hissed as the blood rushed back into his foot.
“Is it broken?” Legolas asked. He leaned back against the
ranger’s chest and held his breath as his body relaxed once more.
The beating he had endured was beginning to take its toll.
“I don’t know. I don’t think so. It just hurts right
now. It’s hard to tell,” Aragorn replied. He leaned
forward, around Legolas, as far as he could and felt his ankle.
It was beginning to swell. “It could just be badly
bruised.” With a sigh he rested back against the rock wall and
gazed at the dark ceiling. His thoughts coalesced in his mind as
dark as the rock prison his body was trapped in.
Silence fell between them for a span. Legolas knew if they didn’t
get help soon, Aragorn would fade before he did. If the human
died and there was no rescue, he would not linger long after. His
hand tightened on the man’s where it rested against his chest.
Aragorn’s dark train of thoughts was broken and he glanced down at the
elf. His right hand absently brushed the prince’s hair away from
his forehead. There was nothing to say; they both knew the truth
of their situation.
The air in the cavern had noticeably dropped a few degrees; it must be
night time without. The fact that the air had cooled gave Aragorn
a bit of hope. At least somewhere there must have been an opening
that allowed fresh air into the cleft.
“I bet your father would have a few words to say about our predicament
right now,” Aragorn joked hesitantly. He desperately needed to refocus
his thoughts and he was sure the elf he held was in no better
A soft short laugh was his answer. “Oh that he would,” Legolas
concurred. “Would you like to know how he responded to my forays
into the southern reaches?”
“Yes very much please,” Aragorn encouraged. Settling his back
more comfortably he closed his eyes and listened to the elf’s voice as
Legolas picked the tale back up.
Young prince Legolas had his arms folded across his chest and his feet planted. He was not moving on his own.
Captain Amil-Garil and the other soldier looked at one another and
shared a silent sigh. Easily picking the younger elf up by the
elbows, they carried him between them into Thranduil’s audience chamber
where the elven king was waiting for them.
Legolas did not resist them, but he did not help them either and when
they set him on his feet before his father’s throne his stance did not
change, save that his gaze remained firmly riveted to the arm of
Thranduil’s large seat.
Legolas didn’t need to see the look on his father’s face to know what
was there. Disappointment, anger, disgust... he’d seen them all
before. The prince tightened his fists against the side of his
Raniean and Trelan, far less resistant, let the remaining two guards
prod them gently into the room. The two young elves looked
nervously between Legolas, the king and the guards. Their
loyalties lay with their friend, but they were a little frightened
about what they had gotten themselves into.
“We found them in the woods near the... near the last spider sighting,”
Amil-Garil reported dutifully. Thranduil knew exactly where his
son and the other two young elves had been found, not by what the
captain of his guard said, but rather by what he left unsaid. Of
course, Legolas had been out by Three Corners... in the glade where his
little sister had died almost five standard years ago. Thranduil
had forbid the boy to go back again after he had nearly gotten killed
hunting there alone the last time. Legolas had defied him no less
than six times now. This had to stop.
“They resisted your attempts to take them back no doubt,” Thranduil’s
voice was hard as his eyes bored into his son, but Legolas carefully
“Yes sire, they did,” Amil-Garil had no choice but to acknowledge.
“Well, Legolas?” Thranduil’s eyes were locked on the boy. “What were you doing out there this time?”
“Hunting spiders,” Legolas’ tone was defiant; he was still staring at the arm of the chair.
Raniean and Trelan shifted uneasily and looked at one another.
Legolas didn’t have to make things worse... but they said
nothing. They knew how hard Legolas had taken the death of his
sister and when his mother decided that she could no longer remain in
Middle-earth and passed over the sea it had been even harder.
“I see,” Thranduil paced on his dais, his hands clasped behind his
back. “After I specifically forbade you to do so. Just as
you were specifically not
supposed to leave your chambers until I gave you leave to do so in the
first place. So what do you do? Immediately sneak out,
round up your friends and go looking for danger! What am I
supposed to do with you, Legolas? And you two...” the king’s gaze
fell upon the prince’s friends.
“Raniean and Trelan did not know I was acting against your wishes,” Legolas defended quickly.
Thranduil sighed, his gaze shifting between his son and the other two young elves.
Trelan and Raniean bowed out of respect for the king when his eyes
lighted on them. For a moment the elder elf’s lips almost
twitched when he saw their faces; they were obviously scared out of
their wits. It wasn’t every day a young elf was arrested by the
palace guards and dragged before the king after all, even if these
particular two young ones did have a penchant for getting into trouble with his son.
“Then that makes it worse,” Thranduil answered. He shook his
head, his face sobering as he turned back to his son. “It wasn’t
enough that you recklessly threw yourself into danger, you dragged
others who trust you into it with you. What if someone had gotten
hurt? You would have been responsible, Legolas.”
Legolas’ jaw tightened and his eyes stung in a way he couldn’t
control. “Like Nana and Celesté?” the young elf’s words
were softly uttered between clenched teeth, but Thranduil heard them
The king’s face tightened as the pain that was ever near the surfaces
stabbed him viciously. Legolas had no business bringing them into
this! Yes, Legolas had lost, but he had lost too and it was no
excuse for the boy to be acting up like he was. They had to be
strong, they had to go on, for the people, for Mirkwood... they had to
go on. Oh Valar, it hurt though. Pain lanced through
Thranduil’s heart at the mere mention of the names, bringing a sharp
edge to his tone.
“Don’t change the subject, Legolas.” The king’s eyes were hard with
hurt. That wound was still too raw, too open... for both father
“Is it changing the subject?” Legolas raised his eyes to meet his
father’s for the first time and Thranduil found himself looking into
tumultuous blue seas of swirling, raging emotions. He almost
wasn’t sure he knew Legolas anymore. Had he lost his son as well
as his wife and daughter?
The king let his breath out slowly, frustration welling up in every pore of his being.
“Out,” he ordered the guards and other elves to leave. He and
Legolas needed to have a talk and they did not need an audience.
“Take Raniean and Trelan back to their families. If they are in
any trouble over this let their parents deal with it. I have no
charges for them since I am quite sure that my son is fully responsible for any contravention of rules or law that occurred.”
The guards bowed and left, taking the other young elves with
them. Raniean and Trelan looked relieved and worried at the same
time, stealing glances back over their shoulder towards their friend
before they were ushered firmly out of the room.
After the door shut behind them, Thranduil slowly descended the dais
until he was standing eye-level with his son. “Legolas, I want to
know what is going on with you, and I want to know now. This
behavior you have been exhibiting is totally unacceptable and I hope
you realize that.”
Thranduil didn’t understand what was going on in the boy’s head and he
couldn’t deal with it. Legolas had never been this much trouble
his entire life, never. He was such a good child, always wanting
to please, always respectful, but now...
Legolas didn’t answer. He didn’t know what to say. He didn’t actually want
to make his father angry, but lately there just seemed no way to avoid
it. Thranduil never talked to him anymore unless it was to yell
at him over something. They had hardly said three decent words to
one another since Elvéwen left for the havens. Legolas
didn’t know what he was doing wrong to garner such perpetual disfavor,
but frustration had caused him to give up trying to figure it
out. If his father were going to be constantly angry with him, he
might as well give him something to be angry about.
Father and son loved each other very much, but they had not always been
the best at showing it. On more than one occasion Elvéwen had
been the mediator between husband and son, smoothing over all those
little bumps and helping them to see each other’s true motives.
It was as if she were the lifeblood that kept her family thriving.
But now Elvéwen was gone... leaving a huge, bleeding gap in the small, broken family.
“Legolas, I know you have been through a lot these past few years,”
Thranduil continued, his voice softening ever so slightly. The
Elvenking was trying to see things from his son’s point of view, but
his own heartache kept welling up and getting in the way, turning
everything he tried to say into a reprimand. “But that is no
justification for the way you’re acting and don’t think I will accept
it as such. You are almost an adult, Legolas; you have to put the
past behind you and go forward. Killing every spider you can find
will not bring them back, Legolas...” Thranduil’s eyes were sad.
“We’ve been through this before, my son, you have to let it go.
It is no different then when you came back from-” the king stopped
himself. “When we have gone through other hurts or trials.
I expect you to be stronger than this. I expect you to move on.”
Thranduil looked away, remembering the bloodied, hurting young man who
had been dragged home from Dorolyn almost thirty years ago now.
Legolas had shown remarkable courage and strength in the way he had
handled his recovery from that situation. As painful as it had
been, it had caused none of the problems they were facing now.
Thranduil needed Legolas’ help to keep going, to keep the kingdom going
and not let it fall prey to his personal heartbreak. He needed
the boy to help him, not make more problems. This blatant
rebellion the young elf had been exhibiting of late was driving the
king up the wall and making an already difficult situation almost
unlivable. Thranduil expected more of Legolas than this... he
expected more of himself than this.
Legolas knew what his father was thinking; he saw it in his eyes when
he looked away. The young elf balled his fists tightly and
dropped his gaze. His father had spent so much time after his
return from Dorolyn trying to convince Legolas that what had been done
to him had not changed him or the way he was loved and respected by his
family, but when Thranduil looked at him that way, at moments like
this, Legolas couldn’t help but wonder if he really meant any of
it. Deep down Legolas feared that it really did matter. Yet
he knew that wasn’t what stood between he and his father right
now. No. This was worse and it was slowly eating Legolas’
heart out. He knew exactly what his father blamed him for... what
he blamed himself for...
“Move on?” Legolas echoed disbelievingly. Didn’t his father care
at all about what had happened? “You mean forget, like you have?”
It was a mistake to say. A large mistake.
Thranduil rounded on the younger elf with pain-fueled fire in his eyes. “Elvéwen and Celesté are gone
Legolas! I will NEVER forget them but neither can I afford the
luxury of wallowing in the past! I don’t know what you hope to
accomplish by insisting on going out there to chase the spiders like
this, except perhaps getting yourself killed as well. But I want
it to stop. And I want it to stop right now!” Thranduil ordered
firmly. He would never show it, but deep down he was terrified,
terrified that he was going to lose Legolas as well. That would
be a blow he could not take. That would kill him.
Legolas’ features were unmoved. Thranduil’s jaw tensed, knowing what that look meant. “I mean
it Legolas! This has got to stop! I forbid you to hunt
spiders and you disobey. I forbid you to leave the palace and you
take no heed. I tell you not to leave your room
and where do the guards find you? Out in the forest again!
You are not leaving this room until you promise me that you will not go
out again until I give you leave to do so.”
Legolas’ hard gaze was focused on the wall across the room. He
never broke his word once it was given; therefore he did not intend to
make promises he had no intention of keeping. He did not wish to
trade angry words with his father, no matter how riled up he was
inside. Despite what the king thought, the young elf did respect
him, greatly. The prince kept his voice low and quiet, but very
“I cannot make any such promise until all the brood that attacked Mother and Celesté are dead.”
Thranduil threw up his hands. “Legolas, our guards scoured the forests for months; they are all dead. Any new spiders are just that, new spiders. And you, young elf, will not speak to me like that.”
Legolas pressed his lips together. It didn’t matter how he spoke
to his father; Thranduil never seemed to want to hear. Legolas
knew it was because the king blamed him - because what had happened to
his sister and his mother was his fault. That was why Thranduil
couldn’t stand to look at him anymore, he knew it. He knew it and
it was killing him slowly inside.
“How would you prefer that I spoke to you, your Highness? Would
you rather I scrape and grovel like the rest of your slaves?” Pain made
the young prince’s words carry much more bite than he would have
Thranduil turned sharply and Legolas flinched, half-expecting to be
struck for his insubordinate words, half-thinking he deserved it.
Thranduil did not slap Legolas although for a moment he had had half a
mind to do so. The king just pierced the young prince with his
glare. Yes, he knew Legolas was hurting, he would never punish
the boy for hurting, but if Legolas let that hurt continue to lead him
down this reckless path of destruction... It could not be
allowed. Something had to wake the boy up.
“I am serious, Legolas, I want you to promise me that you will not
leave the palace again until I say you may,” Thranduil’s voice was very
Legolas just looked away, refusing to answer. He was not a child,
he was an adult. If he chose to hunt in the woods then that was
his business. Thranduil could not order him around forever.
Thranduil’s look darkened. “Fine. If that is the way you
want it.” Clapping his hands loudly the king summoned the guards
standing outside the doors. “Take the prince down to the
dungeon,” the king instructed the guards tersely. “Lock him
up. He is to be treated no differently than anyone else.”
Legolas’ eyes had fixed on his father in semi-shock, but his gaze was
quickly darkening to match the flashing look on the older elf’s
Thranduil shook his head when he saw his son’s look. “Legolas, if
I cannot trust you to obey me of your own free will, then you leave me
no choice. Take this time to think about the path you have been
choosing with your reckless behavior and where it leads.”
The smoldering ire behind Legolas’ icy blue eyes told Thranduil that
the prince was not appreciating the lesson he was trying to teach
him. Well, that’s just the way it was then. Thranduil would
rather have Legolas alive and hating him then dead from his own
The guards glanced at one another uneasily but saluted and turned their
prisoner towards the door. Legolas allowed them to lead him but
the set look on his face was a dare, seeming to ask just how long they
thought they could keep him against his will.
“And Amil-Garil,” the king stopped the guards in the doorway with a
sigh, having read Legolas’ thoughts on his face. “If he tries to
escape, give him twice the normal punishment.”
Legolas’ shoulders stiffened but he did not turn. His father
hated him. If he had had any doubts about it before, he knew it
for certain now. The young elf was angry yes... but just below
the anger that he held up to protect his vulnerable emotions, his heart
was slowly breaking. His mother and sister were gone and his
father hated him. And he had no one to blame but himself.
Thranduil had no intention of ever letting the guards lay a harmful
finger on his son, but he felt sure the mere threat of that kind of
humiliation would keep Legolas from trying anything idiotic.
The guards had never looked quite so unhappy or uneasy about fulfilling
their orders, but they dutifully put the prince into one of the dungeon
cells and closed the door behind him.
The instant he was alone in that small, dark room Legolas’ strong
facade crumbled and he felt the familiar chill of terror sweep up his
spine. Loathing himself for his own inner weakness, the young elf
sat down in the corner and drew his knees up to his chest. He
couldn’t look at the bars; he couldn’t think about the dark... he
mustn’t... The prince shivered slightly. He hated being
imprisoned. He hated it. Burying his face against his
knees, he rocked slowly back and forth in the darkness.
If Thranduil had only known the kind of emotional terror being locked
up still evoked in his son, he would never have done this. He
would never have willingly done anything that he thought would actually
cause the boy pain. But Legolas was good at hiding his own fears
and feelings, so the king was unaware of how his son felt about small,
dark, underground places. He had never gotten in-depth details
from Legolas or anyone else that would have let him know how much
Legolas had come to fear prisons and anything that resembled a
cave. In his mind Thranduil saw this as nothing but a reprimand,
a chance for Legolas to cool off before he did something truly
Besides, Legolas wouldn’t be there long. Thranduil only intended for
him to spend the night down there, then in the morning he would release
But sometimes the best laid plans go horribly awry.