Aragorn returned to camp first. They had decided to
split up that
morning. With the help of Taradin’s men, they would be able to cover
much more ground than normal. Aragorn had taken the high pass that ran
parallel to the northern road out of Rivendell staying near the main
road, while his brothers and Legolas covered the area Aragorn had
indicated that Hebrilith lived in normally.
He had found several old campsites, most of which
belonged to men. He could tell they were men camps by the left-over
refuse and the abandoned firepits. But two barely recognizable sites
had been frequented by an elf and were still being used from time to
time. It was harder to detect an elf’s resting place, for they tended
remove any trace of their stay, but there were telltale signs: crushed
plant life around the perimeters, dirt cleaned of pine needles, light
impressions of soft leather boots.
Aragorn knew just what to look for and had been
rewarded for his
diligence. He believed he had found where the rogue elf had been
traveling recently and bedding down of late. It would account for
Taradin’s tails of mishaps in this region and the coincidence of them
mistaking Legolas at the ruins. He was eager to pass on the knowledge
he had obtained and was slightly disappointed when he realized that he
had returned first. To occupy himself he began to start a fire and set
about preparing the meal for the evening.
The sound of a soft footfall behind him brought a
smile to his face and
he turned, expecting to find Legolas or his brothers walking into camp.
Instead the hilt of an elven knife slammed into the back of his skull,
throwing him sprawling onto the forest floor. His ears rung and he
tottered on the verge of blacking out as his vision hazed. Sounds
drifted in and out of his awareness as he tried vainly to press himself
up into a sitting position. A knee was rammed between his shoulders and
he tasted dirt as his face was pressed into the ground. Rough hands
jerked him over onto his back and his hands were tightly bound in front
Sight and coherent thought returned slowly and he
stunned when he saw who his captors were. Truth to be told, he had more
than expected to be greeted with Hebrilith’s icy glare, but it was not
the dark elf’s eyes that met his. Instead the young ranger was
completely taken by surprise to find himself staring into a different,
although at the moment hardly less deadly, set of Elven eyes.
Sarcayul stood over the young man, glaring down at
him. When he noticed
the human had recovered, he kicked the man viciously in the ribs and
leaned down towards the ranger, "Did you really think I would let you
get away with that pitiful display of mercy you favored us with in
Mirkwood? Do you think you did us any favors? Why that fool of a king
and his puppet son ever befriended you is beyond me." He spit at the
man, who flinched away from him.
Aragorn was still trying to catch up with this
sudden twist of events.
He had never expected, nor hoped to see Sarcayul or any of his
followers again after the elf had tried to take his life back in
Mirkwood over a fatal hunting accident involving the elf’s brother.
Sarcayul had known the young ranger was not responsible for the death,
but had hunted him nonetheless, eventually putting into motion the
events that resulted in Legolas and Aragorn’s painful expulsion from
Mirkwood. Given the choice, Aragorn had spared these elves’ lives when
he could have demanded their blood, but they did not seem to appreciate
his kindness. In fact, it appeared that they had simply taken it as
excuse to hate him more than ever.
"Just kill him, Sarcayul, and let us leave before
anyone returns," an elf
near the edge of camp turned and called back to the warrior. Aragorn
could see the tension in the elves that stood round him, glancing
between the wooded forests and their leader. He silently prayed that
someone would return soon.
Sarcayul glared at down at his prisoner. "Nothing to
say? What, no wise,
witty statements, no magnanimous displays of forgiveness?" He reached
down and grabbed the man by his bound hands hauling him to his feet.
"Let’s go. I have no intentions of getting caught here by Thranduil’s
brat. It doesn’t matter where I kill this one, he’s dead already."
Everyone in Mirkwood knew of Sarcayul and his
behavior and they had become outcasts in their own land. Leaving in
anger, they had determined to hunt down the one who they felt was
responsible for their shame. Hunt him down and kill him.
Figuring he had nothing to lose, Aragorn wrenched
himself free of the
elf’s grip and made a break for the forest. If he could just get away,
he could find Legolas or one of his brothers and get to safety. He had
nearly gained the far side of the camp, momentary surprise on his side,
when an elf warrior stepped into his path and raised his drawn bow,
pointing it straight at the ranger’s head. The man skidded to a stop
and looked wildly around him for another venue of escape. Sarcayul
caught up with him, rage contorting his features and, before Aragorn
could react, he smashed his fist into the side of the ranger’s head
causing the man to stumble and his vision to haze out of focus.
"I grow weary of you," the elf growled into his ear
as he jerked Aragorn around. Taking advantage of the human’s condition
him out of the camp, back to the road where the horses were waiting.
They forced the ranger to mount up. Sarcayul grabbed the reins of the
human’s steed once he was seated in his own saddle and jerked the
animal around, leading them away from the camp and up the northern pass
Nausea threatened to overcome the ranger as the elf
pressed the horses
into a fast trot, trying to put distance between themselves and the
Noldor elves’ camp. Aragorn swallowed hard, trying to calm the sickness
pressing up inside of him. His head pounded from the beating and he
knew his system was simply reacting to the abuse. Panic gripped his
heart like a vise and he breathed slowly as he tried to regain control
of his own emotions. He had not even known that Sarcayul still hunted
him. He had thought that he was free from this threat. Dealing with
Hebrilith had been quite enough... having more elves out for his
blood was a little bit more than Aragorn was prepared to deal with.
The horses began to slow and Sarcayul reined them
back into a slow
walking gait as they began the steep ascent over the northern rim.
Aragorn realized with a spike of fear that they were entering
Hebrilith’s territory. If the dark elf saw him in the company of the
Silvan elves, he knew that he would jeopardize the whole contingent.
He wondered vaguely where Legolas and his brothers
were and if they
would realize what had happened to him.
Legolas had come back to the camp later than he
would have liked. His
forays south had uncovered nothing new about the rogue elf and he was
discouraged by the lack of evidence he had turned up. Hoping the others
had had more success he had given up and headed back to the camp.
As he reached the edges of the forest that
surrounded their makeshift
campsite he had heard voices, angry voices, voices he recognized that
should not have been in this part of Rivendell, voices that made his
blood run cold.
He ran through the now empty camp and reached the
passage out of
Rivendell just as the last of Sarcayul’s men rode around the bend out
of sight. He barely glimpsed Aragorn, bound and riding next to
Sarcayul, before they were gone. Fear spurred him on and he ran up into
the forests that grew along the roadside, shadowing the company as they
passed on their way out of Rivendell. He had to stop them before they
left the area. So intent was he that he did not realize that they had
passed through the very area that the rogue elf had last been spotted
in. His focus was on the man in the middle of the Silvan elves. He had
nearly gained their position as they slowed to a walking gait, passing
through the narrow high pathway, when the situation took on an
unexpected, dangerous turn.
Sarcayul led Aragorn’s horse up the steep winding
path that led through
the mountains. The passageway cut dangerously near Hebrilith’s
territory and the ranger glanced about them nervously. He fought with
the ropes that bound his wrists in front of him; it was hard to balance
on the horse without the use of his hands.
Sarcayul glared at the human as he tested the knots.
"Stop it," he
growled at the ranger, giving the reigns he held a sharp jerk. The
motion caused Aragorn’s horse to skitter sideways and canter closer to
The elf rode to the outside of the pathway, blocking
between himself and the high rock cliff face on the ranger’s right. The
edge of the slight passage on Sarcayul’s side was a deep cliff that
plummeted down to the base of the gorge that comprised the rift
Rivendell was built into.
Aragorn’s horse was uneasy and skittish. It moved
with small steps
back and forth between the hill and Sarcayul’s mount. The horse's
were better than the humans and suddenly became acutely aware.
"Sarcayul, we are in danger." The ranger leaned over
towards the elf
speaking quietly, so as not to alarm the warrior’s men behind them. His
presence in their midst would be seen by the rogue elf as a threat and
Aragorn did not wish to bring trouble down on their head., "We need to
get to cover, quickly."
The elf turned in his saddle faster than Aragorn was
prepared for and
viciously backhanded the human. "Shut up!" The force of the blow sent
Aragorn rocking back on his horse, splitting his lip with the impact.
It was enough for the animal to lose control of its fear and shy back
away from Sarcayul in an attempt to bolt.
Time seemed to slow for the human. He tried to
regain his balance on
the animal he rode but was unable to. Sarcayul leaned forward to grab
the horse’s reins once more and, as he did so, the sound of an arrow
whistled inches from Aragorn’s face. The weapon flew past him and bit
deeply into the warrior’s shoulder above his heart. The force of the
projectile threw the elf backwards and he found himself slipping from
his saddle. Wildly he flailed his arms trying to maintain his balance
or grasp hold of something stationary to stop him. His fingers found
purchase in Aragorn’s overcoat, but the man was still attempting to
rein in his mount and was unable to compensate for the weight of the
elf. With his hands bound before him he was helpless.
Unbalanced and mounted on panicked horses the two
thrown backwards, free-falling off the cliff towards the bottom of
The elf watched from his hiding place, smiling
softly to himself.
Another one was gone. He was sorry that the warrior had gotten in the
way but it had been worth it to kill the human. He had been waiting for
just such a chance ever since he had found the man in his camp going
through his things. Middle-earth would be better off without the ranger
and so would the elves. He had just started to lower his bow when a
shout from his right surprised him.
A fair-haired elf leapt from the cover of the
underbrush, very near his
own position, and ran to the edge of the cliff where the warrior and
the human had gone over. He was calling someone’s name. Hebrilith
notched his bow and tracked the elf with it. He had a clear shot at the
warrior; he could easily take him out. But something stayed his hand,
something in the elf himself as he watched this one and he lowered his
bow, crouching down in the undergrowth to see what would come of the
situation playing out below him. This was the same elf from the day
before. The one who traveled with the man. He would wait to see what
Fear shot through every cell in Aragorn’s body. His
brain was near
panicking, almost to the point of blacking out. Sarcayul had pulled him
his horse and had taken the human with him over the edge of the cliff.
The ranger knew it had been Hebrilith that had targeted them, but even
this he had not expected.
He fell several meters before his body impacted a
small shelf of rock
jutting out from the face of the cliff. Aragorn scrambled to catch hold
of anything that would keep him from falling further, but the weight of
the elf who still held onto him pulled him off the narrow ledge.
Throwing his arms out in front of him in a last ditch effort to stop
their descent, his bound hands came down around the root of a tree that
had grown out from the side of the rock face. The ropes tightened
his wrists painfully and jerked the human to a stop, wrenching his
shoulders horribly as he hung from the bonds, his hands supporting
Sarcayul’s weight and his own. The abrupt stop pulled at every muscle
in his arms and back and he cried out at the pain that lanced between
his shoulders and tightened across his chest.
His breathing was ragged and choked but his mind was
racing, now fully
aware since they had stopped. He looked down at the elf dangling below
him, holding tightly to his legs.
"Sarcayul!" He couldn’t quite see the elf’s face so
carefully and glanced down his back catching the warrior’s eyes. "There
is a shelf just above my head. Climb up me and you can stand there.
You’ll be safe till they can rescue us."
Even in the face of their impending deaths the elf
was defiant and he
regarded the human through narrowed eyes.
"Listen, you don’t have any choice!" Aragorn shouted
at the warrior, the
pain in his arms increasing by the minute. "Go! What’s wrong with you?
Too proud to even save yourself, damn you elves."
Sarcayul’s expression softened almost imperceptibly
and he shook his
head. "I cannot feel my fingers. I am losing my grip."
Aragorn glanced at the arrowshaft protruding from
the elf’s shoulder,
realization dawning on him. He spoke quietly and calmly. "Sarcayul,
listen to me." The elf below him closed his eyes, letting his head rest
against the rangers calves. "Sarc!? The arrow was poisoned. You have to
move now before it’s too late."
Slowly the elf raised his head and met the human's
eyes. "It is already
too late." He could feel the poison in his system like a river of ice,
shutting off his body slowly. The toxin reached his heart and he caught
his breath, his muscles spasming as his body shut down completely.
Aragorn watched the elf in horror as the warrior’s
eyes rolled back in
his head and he released his grip, slowly slipping away, his body
falling soundlessly to the bottom of the gorge.
"NO!" The ranger pressed his face against the rock
in front of him, the
loss of another immortal life pressing grief upon his heart. "Legolas!
Elladan! Elrohir!" He glanced above him shouting for his friend, for
his brothers... for anybody. "Legolas!"