Aragorn entered Strayton as the sun dipped below the
tallest of the
wood buildings in the small town situated just west of Rivendell. A
chill was just touching the evening air as he dismounted and handed the
reins of his horse to the stable keeper and the ranger pulled his
hooded leather coat tightly about him.
The stable master took note of the man's attire and,
inquired about the inn, he simply nodded his head up the street and
turned back towards the stables, trailing the ranger’s horse.
Strider nodded and headed to the center of town. He
was getting used to
the odd looks and the quiet distance that most other humans kept when
in his presence.
The inn was marked by the usual manner of folk
coming and going and the
downstairs bar was full of patrons when the ranger pushed the doors
open and entered the warm, dimly lit room. The innkeeper greeted him
warmly, the way he greeted all folk, for every creature that passed
through his doors only added to his coffers. So Aragorn was quickly
given a room and a mug of ale.
The ranger kept the hood to his coat up, it helped
to keep away those
who might be too curious and it allowed him privacy as he seated
himself at a table located in the rear of the bar. From this
vantage-point his back was against the far wall, and he could easily
see every nook and cranny in the place, plus all the comings and goings
of the patrons as they passed through the heavy wooden doors.
As he relaxed into the atmosphere and the beings in
the room began to
ignore his presence, Strider started to concentrate on the groupings of
people, focusing his attention and tuning his hearing to their
conversations one by one. His hood hid his eyes and no one could tell
where the ranger was looking. Smoke hung thick in the air from the
pipes and the weed that was being put to use. The strong, heavy scent
was not unpleasant and it masked the odor of the men around him.
He ignored the smaller beings that sat at the overly
their feet barely touching the floor: hobbits. He had heard of them but
as of yet had not had extensive dealings with their kind, for with the
exception of one, they rarely, if ever, ventured near Rivendell and he
was sure the tiny men had no news of import to him.
Raucous laughter diverted his attention. A group of
men to his left was
enjoying the evening – a little too much. The ale had loosened their
tongues and one of them spoke arrogantly, boasting of his latest catch.
They were hunters by their garb and their weapons. He knew they would
be telling each other long tales full of lies, bragging about who was
the best at their work, but the catch they boasted of now caused
Aragorn’s heart to hammer in his chest and the bile to rise in his
throat. He steadied himself and steeled his reactions as he listened,
the man proceeded to describe how he had caught and beaten an elf half
to death the previous day.
"The damn creature never would speak." The dark
haired man laughed at
his own joke, "Well not anything anyone could understand after we were
through with him!" The table erupted in laughter.
"Now wait just a minute, Seon. You’re telling me you
caught an elf bare-handed with no help?" A man with bright blue eyes
and hair the color of
the earth leaned forward, questioning the braggart. His gaze was
skeptical and his face weatherworn.
"No. That’s the most amazing part," Seon took a gulp
of his swill,
banging it down harder than necessary on the table, "the fool of an elf
walked right up to me! Said he was looking for information and I says
right back at him, ‘So’s I!’"
The table had quieted as they listened to him
recount his capture and
subsequent torture of the elf. The elf that had been Strider's best
friend since the first day he had been brought to Rivendell. It was
Moranuen who had befriended him almost immediately when all the other
elves had been too busy to entertain the questions of a child. With the
exceptions of his brothers and his father, Moranuen had always been the
closest to being a part of his adoptive family. He closed his eyes as
the men laughed about cutting the elf loose and how the being had
barely been able to walk on his own.
"I shoved one of those wanted posters in his hand
and gave him a quick
kick to his backside to get him moving out of town." He laughed with
the others as he recounted watching the elf try to pick himself up and
limp away from them and the fear on the creature’s face.
The same fair face that Strider could see in his
mind’s eye as he
looked away from the men. When he had visited Moranuen before he had
left for Strayton, the elf had still not woken. His face was bruised
and his lips were cut, a bandage encircled his head where he had been
brutally kicked. Elrond had said they had fractured Moranuen’s skull,
he was not sure the elf would be the same if he ever woke. It took
every ounce of strength Aragorn possessed to keep his seat and when the
group of men called to him, he glared at them through narrowed eyes.
Eyes hidden by his hood.
"Ranger!" Seon called to him from their table
beckoning him with a wave
of his hand, "Ranger! It's been a long time since any of your kind have
visited Strayton. Join us for a drink, and tell us of the world beyond
this sorry woodpile."
Aragorn raised the fingers of his hand and waved the
"Perhaps later, my friend."
The hunter, undaunted by the ranger’s decline,
turned back to the
others and toasted the day’s hunt. Regaling his listeners with another
tale that Aragorn was sure was more lie than truth. By the end of the
hour the hunter had collected his men and left the tavern barely able
to walk himself to the door.
The man named Taradin watched him go, shaking his
head. He leaned over
onto the young man next to him and indicated the retreating hunter,
"You see that one Garith?" When the younger human nodded he continued,
"You don’t want to grow up to be like that. That Seon’s more lie than
he is truth. Never exaggerate your kills, everyone will know you’re not
worth your pay."
"Do you believe that, what he said about that elf?"
The smaller man
looked up at the elder.
Taradin eyed the lad seriously, "That was the one
time I don’t believe
Seon was lying. He’s going to bring the wrath of them all down on us."
"What if that had been the killer elf?"
"Well, that would have been different, that one
would have deserved
whatever he got. But my lad, that murderer won't come up and ask you
for directions. He’ll simply put a bolt in your heart and walk off and
he most certainly would not come into Strayton." Taradin shook his
head. "Don’t know where that elf came from but I hope he made it home
to his kin."
Strider had been listening carefully to the
conversation. Taradin felt
the ranger’s eyes on him and turned towards the hooded man. Leaving his
table he approached Strider and motioned back to the now empty seats
where he had sat. "Be obliged if you joined us for a drink or two. I,
for one, would very much like to hear of the goings-on in other cities."
"I’m afraid I wouldn’t be very good company right
now." The ranger
Taradin nodded and pressed on, "Very well, but no
man should drink
alone. Garith and I will only be here for a few minutes more, join us."
Slowly, Aragorn stood and followed the hunter back
to his table and the
wide-eyed youth that sat there waiting for them. The youngster fixed
Aragorn with a look akin to hero worship, his mouth dropping slightly
as the ranger pushed his hood back and fixed his silver eyes on the
young hunter. Whatever stories he had heard about the rangers had
obviously made a very acute impression on the lad.
"Strider," he said by way of greeting, smiling at
the boy. The young
man couldn’t have been more than fifteen. His eyes were green like the
forest and his hair red, like the sun at dusk. He had a slight build
and still retained his boyish looks. He would have some growing to do.
Taradin sat down next to the youth and smiled back
at the ranger. "His
name’s Garith. I took him in when his father was killed a few years
back by a pack of wargs when we was out hunting deer. The boy’s mother
died in childbirth and seeing as how I never had no kin, he’s become my
Aragorn nodded and smiled sadly.
"Good to meet you Garith. My parents
died when I was young too."
"Really?" Garith stammered out. Taradin laughed at
the boy and gave him
a playful shove.
"Garith, it's not polite to stare." The youngster
looked horrified with
himself and attempted to apologize but Aragorn stopped him, easily
changing the subject.
"I couldn’t help but overhear your friend." The
ranger fixed dark eyes
on the hunter, "Strange conversation for people who live in the shadow
of a realm of elves, wouldn’t you think?" When Taradin looked down into
this glass and didn’t answer, Strider pressed on, "It has always been
experience that elves do not meddle in the affairs of men, nor do men
harass elves. Tell me what has happened that would change all that in
the world of men?"
The hunter sighed deeply and fixed troubled blue
eyes on the stranger.
"Where have you been lately that you haven’t heard the happenings in
the mountains east of Rivendell?"
Garith spoke quietly from where he sat at Taradin’s
side, "There’s a
rogue elf living up in them mountains near that elf city that’s been
Aragorn leaned forward and eyed the elder hunter.
"Are you sure of
Taradin nodded, "Two of the victims were my men, and
I found them. No
one should have to die like that." He glanced down at the boy next to
him before continuing, "Garith, go fetch us more ale."
Garith jumped up and wandered merrily off towards
the bar in obedience.
"He’s a good kid." Taradin watched him go, his eyes
sad as he watched
the youth, making sure he wasn’t given a hard time by the inebriated
patrons near the bar, "Tis not for the boy's ears, he hasn’t seen
enough of the world yet to know how hard it can be. He’ll learn soon
enough." When he was satisfied the boy was doing fine he returned his
attention to the ranger and finished his explanation. "They were shot
through with arrows. But not so’s they’d die right away if you get my
meaning. They were bound, stripped of their clothes and left there to
The muscles in Aragorn’s jaw tightened and he
swallowed against the anger
in him. Taradin was right, no being deserved to die in fear and pain
like that. "How do you know it’s an elf doing it?" He pressed, his
emotions repressed, his countenance a mask of false calm.
The hunter dropped his eyes, his lips tightening as
he remembered, "I
found that foul creature standing over two of my men. Elbamir, he
wasn’t dead yet. I chased the elf off, think I might have surprised him
or I would be dead now too. Was lucky that’s all." He stopped and
collected himself before continuing, "Elbamir said that the elf was the
one that killed Zarrinor and the elf forced him to watch. He said the
elf admitted to killing them all. All them men that’s gone missing here
the last few years, said he hated men and Middle-earth needed to be rid
of them. Elbamir died in my arms. I’ve known him since we was little,
he didn’t deserve to die that way. Rinvan, my sharpest shot was hit by
that demon but we got away before he could catch us. We been hunting
him ever since."
Garith walked back up to the table, balancing three
huge mugs of ale,
and seated himself excitedly across from Aragorn, his youthful
exuberance causing a smile to pull at the corners of the ranger’s mouth
as he thanked the young man for the drink.
Taradin continued, "We spotted him once up on the
mountain high above
the northern pass into Rivendell, strangest of all places being that
high up, but never again that near that area. Always since we seen him,
he’s been down by the ruins, haunting that forsaken place close by the
north pass just above the gorge of Rivendell. We try to stay away from
there, but the boys do have a want to catch that elf. Our men aren’t
the only ones to go missing." He glanced at Garith and ruffled the
boy’s hair as he looked fondly down into the huge green eyes.
The youngster turned to Aragorn watching him
questioning the ranger, "Don’t suppose you could help us Mr. Ranger,
Aragorn smiled slightly. "Please, it’s Strider. I
might be interested
in joining your party if Taradin wouldn’t mind the company for a few
nights. I’d like to see if I couldn’t track down that elf for myself.
Be interested in finding out who he is."
The hunter nodded and extended the invitation,
"You’re welcome to join
us, we are heading back out tonight. We just stopped into town for a
few more supplies."
"What’s your business in that area if you don’t mind
Aragorn leaned forward resting his chin on his hands.
"No, not at all." Taradin leaned back in his chair,
tipping the wooden
seat until it rested on only its back two legs. "We are hunters, we
live here in Strayton and do our hunting above Rivendell in the good
seasons. Been real safe until just a few months back, leastwise for us
that is. Don’t know what’s got into those elves. Posted a warning on
their gate myself, day before yesterday. No creature owns the whole
woods like that. Them sending out assassins on us just ain’t very
neighborly. They coulda just asked us to go and I would have packed my
men out of there."
Aragorn sighed deeply; this was worse than he
thought. There was a dark
elf in the woods hunting men and now the men had turned against every
elf they encountered. No good would come of this, "Have you spoken with
the lord of Rivendell?"
Taradin snorted in disgust, "Nah, there ain’t no
talking to elves. Seon
and his men caught one in town day before yesterday, roughed him up a
bit, but he wouldn’t spill anything."
"Roughed him up a bit?" Aragorn's eyes grew dark as
they spoke so
easily about his best friend. "From what I heard they nearly killed
him. How do you think that will look to the residents of Rivendell?"
The accusation hit the hunter more deeply than he
wished to admit and
he brushed the challenge aside, not caring to deal with the situation
at the moment. He wasn’t so sure he wouldn’t have done the same thing
had he been in Seon’s place, if he had thought the elf was the rogue
that is. The whole affair was starting to grate on the men’s nerves and
he was afraid that it would only end badly.
Dismissing the ranger's question he shrugged, "Well,
them elves can
take a whole lotta beating. Besides I guess they finally let him go and
sent him home with a message." Taradin took out a yellowed square of
paper from his pocket. It was a copy of the wanted poster that Aragorn
had seen earlier. The hunter unfolded it and smoothed out the creases
before passing it to the ranger. "This is the elf we are looking for."
Aragorn eyed the drawing for the second time that
day, the difference
in the elves striking home harder now that he had heard the callousness
with which the men of Strayton considered the elves. "Odd, it doesn’t
look anything like the elf Seon beat up."
Taradin’s eyes narrowed, "What would you know about
that elf, ranger?"
Aragorn returned the dark stare, "I overheard Seon
talking about him.
He said the elf had dark hair. According to the description, this one
The ranger’s gaze and the truth in his statement
uncomfortable and he took a drink of ale before muttering, "You seen
one elf you seen ‘em all. They all related anyway." He shrugged off the
feelings of guilt that ate at his stomach.
Aragorn bit back his frustration and the sigh that
almost escaped his
lips. He had had quite enough of bigotry over the last few months but
sometimes it seemed all of Middle-earth was tainted with its stain.
Taradin changed the subject, turning the question
back on the ranger.
"What, you ain’t no friend of them elves now are you? Didn’t think you
rangers were friends of no one."
Aragorn waited his timing and shrugged his
shoulders, staring at the
man. "I’ve known my share of elves. Just interested in the goings on
here in these parts." He handed the paper back and took one more drink
of the ale, draining his mug.
The hunter re-pocketed the wanted sign and followed
suit. "Well we best
be back to camp. They’ll be wondering if we’re all right or not.
Garith, go pay the man." Taradin handed the youngster a few coins and
pushed away from the table. "Care to join us?"
Aragorn nodded and before long the three of them
were on their way,
Aragorn having notified the innkeeper that he would not be needing a
room for the night after all.
Taradin’s camp was not far away, but the stars were
themselves from their slumber by the time they got there. The camp was
somewhere between fifteen to twenty men strong, but many of them were
bedded down for the night. Fires burned low and after a round of
general introductions with the men that greeted them, Taradin showed
Aragorn to an unoccupied sleeping place and bid him a good night.
It was before the sun had risen when Aragorn woke
from his resting place. He quietly rose and stole away from the
sleeping camp. He intended to go search out the area that Taradin had
told him about where they had originally surprised the dark elf and he
did not want any of the hunters tagging along with him; he knew he
could travel quicker and more quietly on his own. He did not think as
the others did, that the elf had simply been walking through the forest
in that area hunting the men. The fact that the men had not glimpsed
the elf there again bothered him. If he were an elf he would make sure
to draw the intruders away from his abode, keeping his sanctuary clear
of them. He tried to put his thoughts into those of the dark elf’s. How
would he think? How would he act? Where would he go?
The forests where the elf had originally been seen
were thick and old
and the ways and passages through them were overgrown and dark. The
area did not hold the sense of evil that he thought one might expect,
but Aragorn had the distinct feeling that he was being watched and so
he kept his guard up, treading lightly, his passage through the
The path he was on suddenly disappeared and the
tracks ended. In
frustration he stopped and looked around him, smelling the wind,
listening to the sounds about him. His sharp eyes caught a break in the
foliage to his right and on impulse he walked towards the odd pattern
that had been created in the green carpet. A very light, slightly
overgrown, but well-used path lay hidden beneath the leafy canopy. Only
an elf could use the same path repeatedly and not bear the foliage down
with his weight. Tracking elves was something that the best human
hunters had a hard time with, but the ranger knew what to look for,
what to expect. He picked up the barely perceptible run and tracked the
rogue high into the forest, following the minute, telltale signs.
Presently Aragorn came upon a small glade set
against the hills on the
edge of the upper forests where the foliage turned to small brush and
stunted trees. The tiny glade backed up against the face of a sheer
granite cliff. Trees hugged the rock face and grew down the sides,
their boughs bent low towards the ground, lichen and moss covered the
rock around them. But there was a scent on the air that was foreign to
the forest. Spices mixed with the smell of burning wood. The scent was
old but yet not quite swept away; testimony to the presence of a human
or some being.
Aragorn cautiously walked forward, drawing his sword
from its scabbard,
the metal singing quietly as it was unsheathed. The wind sighed through
the gorge below him, sweeping up through the forests and brushing past
the ranger as it climbed up the mountain. The trees at the foot of the
granite bowed under its gentle onslaught and the flicker of metal
beyond their branches caught the human’s attention.
Confused, Aragorn stepped forward and parted the
he stood still on the threshold. Behind the covering of the trees the
granite had been hollowed out in the shape of an inverted bowl. Less a
cave and more a deep shallow, the natural concave have been turned into
a dwelling place. Aragorn surmised that this was where the dark elf
lived as he entered the now empty hovel, scanning the interior quickly.
A small hammock hung suspended to the left. Metal
spikes had been
hammered into the rock face and the sleeping bed had been hung between
them in the curve of the shelf. To his right was a small desk that sat
in front of a bookshelf carved from the rock itself. It held a few
precious books and a journal lay open on the desk, an old quill
laid near it. A near empty ink well, perched precariously on the
bookshelf, attested to the fact that the lair was used, and often.
turned the open book towards him. The words inside were penned in
elvish, but that was no hindrance for him and he quickly read the last
They came again.
Every time they come closer. Don’t they know they aren’t welcome here?
Why are they allowed in these mountains I wonder. This range was given
to me. These humans weren’t like the last. These were harder to kill,
but it was enjoyable nonetheless and I was able to hone my skills. How
lax I have become. Their boots will make nice sheaths for my tools and
I have been wanting a pair of sleep shoes.
Their companions are still nearby. I wonder what treasures they will
give up at their deaths? My food runs low again so I must leave to
hunt; perchance I will meet up with the men again. Why Iluvatar ever
created men I will never know.
The journal left off there. The entry was dated that
the date had a question mark beside it as though the writer were not
entirely sure what day or year it truly was. The ranger looked about
him with new insights into the writer’s mind. He noticed for the first
time the articles that were definitely not of elven nature. The small
stack of clothing, neatly folded and placed in a niche in the rock.
Removing one dark green shirt, he shook the tunic out and fingered the
tear near the right shoulder; there was dried blood on the cloth. A
small pile of assorted shoes lay on the floor, some already had been
taken apart, their leather and soles having been put to some other use
now that their owners no longer needed them.
Aragorn shuddered involuntarily as the last entry in
repeated itself in his mind-
Why Illuvitar ever created men I will
His father was right; this truly was a dark elf.
Something inside the
ranger resonated; he had been here too long. He needed to leave and
leave now. His brothers had taught him to trust his instincts and they
were screaming at him to get out. He replaced everything as it had
been and crept back to the hidden entrance. Every sense was alert as he
stepped out into the glade. It was quiet in the surrounding forest, but
he could still hear the buzzing of the grass bugs and the sounds of the
birds in the canopy above him.
Making quickly for the edge of the clearing Aragorn
had almost gained
the trees when he paused mid-step; the sounds of the forest about him
had abruptly ceased. Slowly, he gazed around him, turning back to stare
at the elf’s hidden lair. He froze in his tracks and watched as the
rogue elf stood before his makeshift home, bow drawn and arrow notched,
his eyes locked on the young ranger. He had approached so quietly that
Aragorn had not even heard him.
The ranger was sure that his heart was sighted by
the tip of the arrow
aimed at him. Cautiously, he turned to fully face the elf. The warrior
was not of Noldor descent. His hair was blonde and long and swept back
from his face by a catch at the nape of his neck. His eyes were blue
and his face was fair. His clothing, though worn, definitely resembled
that of the wood elves and his body was lithe and strong just like one
accustomed to living in the forests. If Aragorn hadn’t known better, at
first glance, he would have thought he were gazing at his friend
Legolas. But as he watched the Silvan elf, he could see the
differences, differences lost on most humans who thought all elves
looked alike. He was slightly surprised to notice that the elf was
lowering his bow. The ranger raised his empty hands slightly palms up,
showing the elf he was unarmed. He really hadn’t come to battle the
rogue, he was just seeking information.
As he gazed at Aragorn, the elf dropped his bow
slightly. The eyes of
the young human reminded him of someone he once knew and the
resemblance of spirit threw him off his guard. But it couldn’t be. That
one’s mate had left years ago; it was impossible was it not? And this
was no heir of the Noldor; it was a human. The oddity of it stopped
His mind fell to memories long ago lost to him and yet so seemingly
recent; how long had it truly been? He turned his attention to the
gorge of Rivendell, wondering to himself. And yet this human had been
in his things, knew where his home was; he could not let the man live.
Raising his bow he sighted back on the man, but where the ranger had
been standing moments before there was no one. The dark elf smiled
slightly to himself. Let the man go back and tell his friends, let them
all come. He would wait for them and he would not let them get away
this time, not any of them, not even the ranger with the curious eyes.
Stalking back into his lair, the rogue elf prepared for the inevitable.
Aragorn ran and did not look back. He could not hear
the elf pursuing
him but he did not wait to find out if he would. It had surprised him
when the elf had dropped his weapon and he found it very odd that the
rogue warrior had looked toward Rivendell. The ranger could have sworn
that there was longing in the elf’s eyes as though he were reliving
some memory from his past. However that moment of inattention was all
the young human had needed and he had taken the opportunity to flee.
When he had reached the path back to the hunter’s
camp, Aragorn finally
slowed down and stopped, listening carefully to his surroundings for
any hint of a pursuer. But no sounds assaulted his ears save the soft
noises of the forest and the rapid beating of his own heart. Leaning
over, the ranger rested his hands on his knees and caught his breath,
waiting for his heart to slow down before he began the final walk back
He knew the elf would be watching for him now. He
had been caught in
the rogue’s territory, so there would be no safe way of walking back
in. He had been targeted; he would need to be extra careful that he did
not endanger the hunters any more than they already had themselves.
With all the information that he had sought now in his possession he
would need to find a way to return to Rivendell and inform Elrond.
Aragorn had the very distinct suspicion that the elderly elf would be
more than interested and probably not at all surprised when he told him
what he had discovered.
Legolas Greenleaf turned his face towards the rising
sun as it worked
its way up the eastern sky. He had broken camp when the glowing orb was
still extracting itself from the distant horizon and had already
covered a good distance since then.
All yesterday and today he had been slowly
descending down the western
foothills of the Misty Mountains and today he hoped to make Rivendell
by sundown. A fortnight ago, the Prince of Mirkwood had promised to pay
a visit to his young friend Aragorn, adopted son of Lord Elrond and
that was where he was going now.
The journey between Mirkwood and Rivendell and the
path over the Misty
Mountains was hardly an easy one, but Legolas had encountered no
serious problems or obstacles. The only real trouble he had had was
discovering that hunting packs of wolves and wargs were ranging near
the rift that he would have normally taken to get to Rivendell.
However, even that was no more than a mere inconvenience, for it simply
meant that he had to take the high pass over instead. The high pass was
a little bit longer and added at least a half a day’s travel onto his
trip, but that was not too much of a price to pay to avoid having to
deal with any warg packs, especially since Legolas traveled alone.
Originally, the prince had thought to bring Raniean
or Trelan, or some
of his other friends with him, but for one reason or another none of
them had proved to be available at this time and Legolas preferred
traveling alone to traveling with any kind of royal escort. His father
had long ago given up trying to force the young prince to take his
guards with him when he went out. Legolas could take care of himself.
Yet no one could have foreseen what would happen,
and certainly Legolas
himself had no premonitions that morning as he made his way lightly
through the trees and down a sloping hill towards a dished valley,
dotted with the ruined remains of some once-mighty fortress or dwelling
that was now busy crumbling itself slowly into the dust.
From a distance off, several pairs of eyes caught
the elf’s unconcealed
movements and their brows darkened.
Taradin watched the elf pick his way nimbly across
the crumbling ruins
with a dark scowl. "There you are again then, you devil," he muttered
quietly to himself. "Well the shoe’s on the other foot this time, isn’t
Legolas moved easily across the broken ground,
unaware of the men that
watched him. He felt sure that there were others in the area somewhere,
but whether they were friend or foe he did not know. However, this
close to Rivendell he was not particularly worried.
Suddenly Taradin looked up to see that the man
beside him had risen and
laid an arrow across the strings of his longbow. The fellow was
tracking the elf in his sights, about to fire.
"Hamset! No!" Taradin leapt to his feet just as the
arrow left the bow,
slightly spoiling the archer’s aim.
"You idiot!" Taradin shouted. "I wanted him alive!"
The ruins dropped away sharply on their eastern edge
and Legolas leaped
lightly down, not perturbed by the eight-foot drop. The prince had just
jumped off when his sharp eleven ears picked up the distinctive sound
of a bow twanging. Mid-air, there was no way he could react to the
perceived threat and a moment later he felt a sharp, burning pain lance
through the side of his left thigh, about five inches above his knee.
Startled by these events, Legolas was unprepared to
land and hit the
ground hard, his injured leg giving way under him so that he ended up
pitching to his hands and knees on the stony earth.
Wincing, the elf rose quickly to his feet, obviously
favoring the left.
He spared a quick glance down to see the sickening sight of the arrow
protruding from his lower thigh, but had not the time to do anything
about it. Whoever had shot him was still out there and he had better
get to cover quickly. Unable to keep from limping, Legolas quickly put
the face of the plateau he had just jumped off of between himself and
the direction from which the arrow had come.
Taradin swore at having lost the element of surprise
as he watched the
elf limp swiftly away. "Get down there and get him! Now!" he shouted at
his men, but they were already in motion. With a wave of his arm,
Taradin motioned for his men on the opposite side of the plateau to
Pulling his own bow off his back and fitting an
arrow on the strings,
Legolas peered warily around the edge of his hiding place, but from
this angle could not see anyone, nor get a clear shot at them even had
he been able to.
The elf grit his teeth against the pain radiating
from his injury as he
forced his leg to support him, hurrying towards the woods about
yards distant. Besides the scanty cover of the ruins, this area was
wide and open, a terrible place to be trapped if someone was shooting
at you. Legolas intended to get to some suitable cover as soon as he
Taradin’s men burst from around the other side of
the ruins, right on
the elf’s heels.
Legolas considered turning to fire at them, but
already slowed by his
injury, he did not want to risk the time it would take, especially
since for whatever reason, they were not shooting at him at the moment.
The elf stumbled, but pressed on, infuriated by the
on by his injury. He could never outrun them like this, or even get
enough distance between them so that he could make use of his bow
without making himself vulnerable.
Reaching the trees with the men literally right
behind him, Legolas
slung his bow back over his shoulder as he sprang up to catch hold of
the lower branch of a white oak, grimacing as he pulled his injured leg
up onto the limb with him. He was reaching for the next branch above
his head, when one of the men caught hold of his injured ankle, yanking
the elf’s foot out from under him.
Legolas grabbed for the branch to steady himself,
going for his knives.
He didn’t get the chance, for at that moment one of the men grabbed the
arrow still protruding from his leg and used it like a handle, yanking
The sudden, shocking burst of agony swept over
flooding all his perceptions with a haze of pain as his feet were
half-pulled, half-slipped out from under him. The abrupt jerk ripped
arrow completely out of his leg, pulling Legolas downward as it did so.
The elf tried to catch himself as he fell, but the tangle of hands
grabbing and clutching at him threw off his balance and hampered his
Legolas twisted away as he slammed into the ground
on his hands and
knees, landing more heavily on his injured side than the other, causing
another brilliant flash of pain to jolt through his leg. The elf was
given no time to collect himself, for before he had even finished
hitting the ground, one of the men brought the hilt of a sword down
violently across the back of the elf’s skull.
Legolas crumpled forward to the ground, dazed by the
Two more equally vicious blows rendered the stunned elf unconscious.
Taradin arrived at just about that time. He looked
darkly at the elf’s
unmoving form, until he was quickly assured that the prisoner was
unconscious only. "Good," he grunted as the unresponsive elf was bound
and hefted up between two of his men. "This one’s got a lot of
answering to do before he dies. Take him back to camp!"