Stealthily, Hebrilith left the area and circled back
up the mountain,
placing himself between the mounted elves and the ranger and his
companion; checking his traps. He needed to take care of the horses
first. The human thought he was so smart bringing them back up this
way, well Hebrilith had something fun in mind for them. He had wondered
if he would ever have a chance to test his little diversion. It
delighted him that today would be that day.
Elrohir and Elladan picked their way carefully
through the undergrowth,
silently following their brother and the prince. As the pair picked up
the trail and moved out the mounted elves followed.
Elrohir’s horse spooked and shied sideways. The
twins stopped their
mounts and listened for any sounds out of the ordinary. The forest
still chattered incessantly about them, bugs in the fields, birds in
the canopy overhead. They could hear the light footfalls of the ones
they followed. It must have been nothing. Elladan motioned for them to
continue and pressed his heels against his horse's flanks, urging the
A tiny snap beneath his horse's hoof was all the
warning that the twins
had. Hebrilith had rigged a snare net, the type that humans and dwarves
were fond of using when trapping; the type capable of ensnaring an
entire glade at one time. He had staked one edge into the ground and
the other side of the net he had tied to green tender saplings, bending
their thin wiry trunks backwards close to the forest floor and pinning
them there. When Elladan’s horse had triggered the release, the rope
holding the trees down had been loosened and the saplings threw the net
high into the air as they snapped back and forth their tension gone out
of them. The far side of the net had been weighted with rocks and as it
flew over the elf’s heads it came swiftly crashing back down behind
The horses reared up at the unknown threat
attempting to throw their
riders, but the elves were not easily unsaddled and the net quickly
caught them all, bearing the steeds to the ground with the twins pinned
on top of them.
Immediately the warriors began attempting to cut the
ropes away. Their attempt at stealth had been caught, their presence
noted and Aragorn and the prince were in danger.
"Legolas," Aragorn whispered to his friend, "It’s
over here, we are
"Wait!" Legolas had frozen and turned back the way
they had come. "Did
you not hear that? I think we are not alone and I believe we have lost
your brothers!" The elf prince began to walk quickly back down the path
towards the sounds he had heard, thinking the ranger was following him.
But the ranger hadn’t heard his friend’s warning and
proceeded to cross
the open glade without the prince. It wasn’t until he had gained the
other side that he realized he was alone and a spike of fear shot
through him as he turned back to search for his friend.
A dark shadow erupted from the trees on Aragorn’s
warning, Hebrilith charged the human, he spun at the last possible
moment and with the force of his circular movement he smashed his elbow
into the ranger’s chin, knocking the man off his feet and stunning him.
The elf kicked the human onto his stomach and
quickly bound Aragorn’s
hands behind his back. The ranger came to his senses seconds later.
Realizing what had happened, he kicked out with his legs, connecting
his boots with Hebrilith’s shin. The unexpected resistance knocked the
elf backwards and Aragorn turned over onto his back, trying to right
Hebrilith recovered quickly and with a lethalness
that made the
ranger’s blood run cold, the elf removed a long, thin, curved blade
from its sheath on his waist. He stalked back to the human and kneeled
down on the man, pressing the air out of Aragorn’s lungs with his
weight. Without warning he pinned the man to the earth, driving his
dagger through the ranger's left shoulder.
Aragorn arched against the pain. His mind was
reeling but with no air
in his lungs he couldn’t even cry out and bright spots of light danced
before his eyes as consciousness threatened to leave him.
The elf was speaking to him but he had a hard time
"Did you?" Hebrilith moved off the human and grabbed
a handful of the
dark hair slamming the man’s head back down hard against the ground.
"Did you really think you could capture me?"
Aragorn gasped air into his starved lungs as
Hebrilith pounded his head
hard down against the earth again, "What are you? Just a toy to them?
Obviously they care nothing for you or they would never let you come
back near me. I have been waiting for you, fool of a human. Did you
honestly think I’d let you live after I found you in my home?"
The quiet rage in the elf scared the ranger and he
stared up into the
incensed face. He was a having a hard time focusing on the elf and at
times it seemed like there were two Hebriliths staring down at him.
"Oh don’t worry about your friends on the horses. I
already took care of
them and I will see to your other elven friend too, right after I kill
you." He whispered to the man. With a cruel smile he pulled the blade
from Aragorn’s shoulder, causing the man to cry out. He forced the
ranger’s head to the side, exposing his jugular vein.
"Strider, I don’t hear your brothers, I think we
should go back,"
Legolas called softly to the human scanning the surrounding forests.
When his friend didn’t respond, the elf looked over his shoulder and
realized for the first time that the man had gone on without him. "No!"
He turned and ran headlong back for the glade where they had last been.
He heard the human cry out and reached the end of the glade as the
rogue elf pressed the man’s head to the side, ready for a quick kill.
"Let him go, Hebrilith!" Legolas stalked forward,
his bow strung and
notched. "Let him go, now." The elf prince stopped part way into the
glade as the rogue elf turned quickly towards him.
Hebrilith smiled and looked back down at the human.
"Care to watch me
take your friend out?" He lifted Aragorn’s head and beat it hard back
against the forest floor, just for spite, as he stood and faced down
the angry elven prince.
Hot anger flared through Legolas and he stepped
closer, "Move away from
him and do not touch him again," he cautioned dangerously.
Aragorn tried to lift his head but it hurt so badly.
The woods seemed
to be spinning slowly around him and he could see the stars moving in
and out between the trees.
"I’ll kill your friend," taunted the rogue elf.
"And I will kill you." Legolas motioned the elf away
from the prone
human. "Move now."
"Really?" Hebrilith crossed his arms, a slightly
amused grin on his
face. "Will you now?" Slowly he picked up his foot and pressed his boot
down against Aragorn’s throat. Leaning down slightly, he taunted, "I
Aragorn struggled weakly against the new abuse,
panic at the lack of
air and a sudden sense of wrongness flooding his awareness. Hebrilith
wasn’t afraid of Legolas. He had no fear that the elf prince would
shoot him. It almost seemed as though he wanted Legolas to try. Why?
Legolas stared unflinchingly at the dark elf.
Hebrilith laughed lightly
and stepped away from Aragorn and towards the prince, allowing the
ranger to breathe again. He opened his hands palms out, displaying his
lack of weapons or defense. "Well, shoot me. Isn’t that what you came
here for?" Something like a deep look of satisfaction crossed the elf’s
Aragorn rolled slowly over onto his side and
awkwardly moved into a
kneeling position just out of Hebrilith’s range of sight.
As Legolas increased the tension on his bow, the
wood beneath his hands
quivered slightly. The movement was odd and the prince frowned as he
concentrated, attributing the waver in his weapon to his own nerves. He
had known this moment was coming, but still he was unprepared to kill
the elf in cold blood even though he knew it must be done. Hebrilith
could not be allowed to continue to harm men or other elves and if
Legolas didn’t stop him, he would surely kill Aragorn.
Aragorn watched between the two elves. The seconds
as he looked from his friend to the rogue. Something was seriously
wrong. Legolas’ bow wobbled slightly under the increasing pressure –
the image of finding the bow in the wrong place earlier that morning
flashed through Aragorn’s mind. He glanced at Hebrilith. And cold fear
shot through his veins as he realized that that wasn’t a look of
satisfaction on the rogue elf’s face: it was amusement. Everything that
happened since this morning clicked in the ranger’s mind – Hebrilith
had sabotaged their weapons.
"Legolas, No!" he called out in warning to his
friend, trying to gain
The elf prince started to release the arrow when his
friend called out
to him. He allowed the arrow to fall from his fingers and turned his
face away from the bowstring, moving the bow away from his body. The
arrow clattered to the forest floor and his bow snapped backwards, the
powerful tension released in it as the string broke in half and whipped
wildly outward. One half caught his hand and slashed across the top of
his fingers, causing him to cry out and drop the bow to the ground. The
other half lashed into his hair. Had he not turned his head away, the
force of the tension released when the string broke would have cut his
face open, perhaps even blinding him. Now he knew why his bow had been
moved. Somehow, Hebrilith had indeed gotten past all of them, he had
been in their camp last night and had carefully nicked their
bowstrings. If they had thought to use them, the strings would have
snapped just as his had done, causing horrible damage to their users.
Hebrilith turned on the human in pure rage. He
slammed the man
backwards with his forearm causing Aragorn to stumble as he tried to
regain his balance. The force of the impact split his temple and he
slumped to the ground, half conscious.
Legolas turned back in time to see his friend fall
to the forest floor.
"Strider!" But even as he called out, he knew he was too far away to
stop the dark elf. He ran forward trying to intervene, but Hebrilith
was not about to let the man get away again. He had had enough of the
two of them. It was time to kill the human; he could deal with the
other elf afterwards.
Aragorn couldn’t move. He couldn’t breathe, he
couldn’t think. His
overly abused body betrayed him and refused to respond to any of the
jumbled commands coming from his brain.
Hebrilith knelt over his prey, ready to finish the
young ranger off
completely. The long, wicked knife gleamed in the elf’s fingers as he
drew back his hand...
Suddenly a swift, booted foot kicked the knife out
of Hebrilith’s grip.
A second kick knocked the dark elf off of Aragorn and onto his backside
on the ground.
"This one is not for you!" Legolas said fiercely as
he put himself
protectively between the young human and the dark elf who sought his
Hebrilith retaliated with surprising speed from the
suddenness of the
attack and Legolas had to jump to the side to avoid a sweeping blow
from the other elf’s knife. In an instant, Legolas’ own weapons were in
his hands, one blade in each fist as was his wont.
Hebrilith matched his opponent, drawing a second
knife of his own and
for a moment they circled each other warily. When Hebrilith attacked it
was with the lightning swift responses and graceful moves of the elves.
Legolas countered just as swiftly, evading one sweep, stepping under
follow-up jab and returning with his own blows that were just as
Aragorn tried to pull himself up off the ground,
tugging against his
bound wrists, but his head whirled dizzily as the serious concussion he
had sustained made his vision blur. Falling back and catching his
breath, he could do little more than watch helplessly as Legolas and
Hebrilith turned and whirled, sometimes almost faster than sight,
slashing, parrying, ducking, dodging... locked together in their
graceful dance of death. It was both terrifying and oddly beautiful in
a horrid sort of way. Aragorn had never seen two elves fight one
another with deadly intent before and the young Dùnadan was
dismayed to see that Hebrilith seemed to be every bit as good a fighter
as his friend was.
Hebrilith rolled away underneath one of Legolas’
advances and Legolas
jumped lightly to the side only just in time to avoid a swipe aimed for
his legs. Both were holding their own, but neither seemed to be able to
get an advantage.
"This has nothing to do with you, son of Thranduil!"
Hebrilith spat at
the prince. "Leave the human to me to face the fate that all his race
deserves! He’s not worth your consideration!"
"He is my friend, Hebrilith! The killing must stop!
You can’t live this
way forever. You cannot punish all for the sins of a few!" Legolas
reasoned as they circled again. The two elves’ eyes never left one
another, watching for an opening, a misstep... any sign of weakness.
Hebrilith jabbed and Legolas deflected the blow,
returning with a sweep
of his own, which Hebrilith sidestepped. Lashing out with the side of
his foot, he caught Legolas’ still-healing leg. Grabbing Legolas’ arm
he tried to spin the other elf around onto the point of his blade, but
Legolas twisted his wrist and threw his body to the side, flipping
Hebrilith over his back instead. The dark elf landed as easily as if he
had meant to do that and lashed out with a rapid series of
double-handed slashes and strokes that drove Legolas back a few paces,
causing the prince to have to go on the defensive. They both knew that
this was a contest that only one of them could walk away from alive.
"Your friend?" the dark elf sneered, his beautiful
face twisted with
cold rage. "How can any elf call a human friend after all they have
done amiss in this world? Especially you, little whore of Dorolyn! Or
did you enjoy what they did to you there?!"
Legolas’ jaw tightened and his eyes flashed deadly
fire. He hadn’t
realized that Hebrilith knew of his own past, but since this elf seemed
to know their every move before they made it, he shouldn’t have been so
surprised. The other elf’s words had a far more unsettling effect on
the prince than he would have liked to admit.
Hebrilith followed his last jab up with a twisting,
which Legolas sidestepped. Unfortunately that was what the dark elf had
expected him to do. As Legolas moved to the side, Hebrilith was already
there, and Legolas only just got his arm up in time to keep the dark
elf’s knife from cutting straight into his throat. With no time for a
proper block, Legolas caught the knife with his unprotected forearm.
The sharp elven blade bit deeply into the prince’s flesh and Legolas
could not help wincing as he jumped back, making the knife tear a
ragged gash along his arm as he yanked it away.
Red blood flowed freely from the cut in his sleeve,
emerald fabric and running down over the prince’s hand, making his grip
on his weapon slippery. Legolas recovered quickly, driving his opponent
back with a quick series of slashes and forcing his right hand to
remain closed tightly about the hilt of his knife despite the blazing
pain that it caused.
"It stings, doesn’t it?" Hebrilith glowered coldly,
meaning much more
than Legolas’ injury. "You don’t fool me!" the dark elf hissed, his
eyes slitting as he circled for another opportunity. "You and I, we’re
no different. You hide your hate and fear under words and platitudes
that you have been taught, but I see it inside you. You claim this
human is your friend, but you run from him when he gets too close."
Another series of moves drove Legolas back again.
The prince grit his
teeth against the pain of his injury and the fury that Hebrilith’s
taunting words were building in his chest. Fury... and pain. Fear.
Those last two emotions disturbed Legolas, for they should not have
been present. Did some part of him fear that Hebrilith was right? The
uncertainty tossed the elf off-balance, putting him more and more on
Hebrilith’s lips twitched in a feral grin. "Oh yes,
I’ve been watching
you. I know more about you than you know about yourself. You’re a liar,
Legolas, Greenleaf! And the most pathetic thing is that you lie to
Legolas knew that Hebrilith was trying to psyche him
out, taunt him
into making a mistake... the frightening thing was that it was almost
working. The elven prince steeled his resolve and tried to close his
mind and heart against his opponent’s words.
Aragorn watched the confrontation with growing
horror. He hated what he
saw Hebrilith trying to do to Legolas and wanted to yell, wanted to
tell his friend not to listen to anything the twisted elf said! But he
was afraid of tossing off Legolas’ concentration, so he kept silent and
twisted against the bonds on his arms and wrists. His head was still
throbbing and blurring mercilessly, but he struggled anyway.
"You don’t know me half as well as you think,
Hebrilith!" Legolas shot
back. Both elves were beginning to breathe hard now as the fight
dragged on and the intensity level only kept increasing. "Maybe it
wasn’t as far behind me as I thought it was, but I will never, EVER
be like you!" He shoved his opponent’s blade back on itself, cutting
low and swinging sideways to extract himself from the cornered position
that Hebrilith had been attempting to maneuver him into. As he spun
away, Hebrilith brought the hilt of his knife down in an unexpected
move, driving it painfully into Legolas’ wounded arm. At the same
moment he brought his knee up into the prince’s healing thigh once
more. The harsh shot of agony from his injuries, both old and new,
threw Legolas’ concentration off a tad and the elf prince stumbled,
ever so slightly. With an orc, or a man as an opponent, the small slip
would have made very little difference, it was only a moment of
inattention, but in a battle between elves, it was all that Hebrilith
The dark elf drove one dagger around behind Legolas’
neck, forcing the
prince to move closer him to avoid the blade, at the same time
thrusting the second one forward at waist-level. They were barely three
inches apart and Hebrilith’s grin hardened cruelly as he watched
Legolas’ eyes register both shock and pain as the long knife slid
into the prince’s side. Legolas moved sideways at the last moment as he
felt the slick pain of the blade enter his body, twisting away in a
desperate effort to keep the weapon from its intended path into his
"No!" Aragorn’s cry echoed in the fighting elves’
ears, but they were
too locked in their own life or death struggle to pay the hapless human
Legolas’ movement made the knife catch on one of his
ribs instead of
going straight into the unprotected soft tissue of his belly, as had
been its original aim. The sharp blade skittered along the bone before
sliding off and hitting another. Bouncing off this one as well, the
knife dipped and slid between the next two ribs, burying itself deep
into the elf prince’s side, but damaging nothing immediately fatal. The
pain however was shockingly indescribable and momentarily debilitating.
Hebrilith twisted the knife sharply and Legolas cried out without
meaning to, doubling forward.