Hebrilith's look hardened as Legolas doubled over
and the dark elf
started to turn the knife inward, bringing his other weapon up to
finish the job, but Legolas took advantage of their close quarters.
Circling his good arm up, he knocked the dark elf’s second knife hand
away before it could find its target. Instead of trying to pull away,
as Hebrilith expected, Legolas moved in closer, ignoring the jolt of
pain from the knife still in his side, and whammed his forehead against
that of the other elf, knocking his adversary back several paces.
Slashing quickly, Legolas landed a deep cut across Hebrilith’s left
shoulder, bringing the handle of his other knife down across the dark
elf’s hand and making him drop one of his weapons.
But Hebrilith still had his hand on the knife in
Legolas’ side and when
he yanked that free, the blinding flash of pain made the elf prince
reel. Hebrilith grabbed the opportunity and landed a sound punch to
Legolas’ injured side and midsection, swinging around and whacking the
younger elf across the face and knocking the blade out of his injured
hand. Legolas grimaced and stumbled sideways, but refused to lose his
footing. Kicking out hard and twisting away from a second blow, he
caught Hebrilith in the knees, causing the dark elf to stumble back and
nearly fall down. Unfortunately, the prince was not in good enough
shape to press his advantage while he had it. He needed the moment to
recoup his own strength.
Pressing one hand to his injured side, Legolas felt
the flow of warm,
sticky blood that was making its way freely from the deep wound.
Holding his remaining weapon in his good hand, Legolas crouched
defensively, watching as Hebrilith regained his footing, ready for the
dark elf’s next attack. The elf prince’s breath was coming in short,
ragged gasps and yellow spots danced before his eyes, accompanying the
burning pain from his side, arm and re-injured leg. Things were looking
desperate, but he refused to let defeat be an option. Because he knew
that if Hebrilith won, the price would not only be his life, but
Aragorn’s as well. Legolas would not let that happen. Not while he had
a breath left in him.
"Give it up, Princeling!" Hebrilith taunted, but his
own breath was
coming more than a little short. "Is the human worth your life? Leave
now while you still can!"
Legolas did not waste his breath answering, but
moved forward, feigning
low and driving high. Hebrilith met him and the two locked weapons,
parted, locked again, and parted. Legolas was wearying, critically so.
Hebrilith could see that, so he kept his opponent moving, forcing
Legolas to expend his energy just matching the dark elf’s blows.
Horror coursed through Aragorn’s veins as he saw
Legolas’ knife tremble
in the prince’s hand. He had seen Legolas fight on many occasions, but
he had never seen his friend this weary. Ugly, dark crimson was
spreading quickly across Legolas’ tunic and the young ranger had no way
of knowing how badly his friend had been hurt. His own helplessness was
maddening and he thrashed desperately against his bonds. Stars and
black spots erupted in his vision and his efforts were rewarded by a
wave of dizzy nausea that nearly made him pass out. His concussion was
not pleased by his vigorous movements, nor the heightened adrenaline
and panic that were flowing through him.
Through blurry, doubled vision, Aragorn saw the two
elves tangle and go
down, their fight turning into a wrestling match on the ground. He
didn’t see how it happened, but another of the knives had been lost and
now the two elves struggled for control of the remaining one that hung
Hebrilith nailed Legolas in the side at every
opportunity, using the
other elf’s injuries to his advantage. Legolas rolled the dark elf over
and over, seeking to avoid giving his opponent the chance to use his
weaknesses against him. The two elves’ blond hair fell about them as
they struggled, and it was nearly impossible to tell whose was whose.
Legolas ended up on the bottom again and this time
Hebrilith pinned him
there, sitting on the prince and locking him down with his legs as they
struggled for control of the knife. Hebrilith pressed the blade down
towards Legolas’ throat, but the prince fought him and the knife stayed
locked between them.
"You fight well," Hebrilith grit out through his
teeth, frustrated by
the difficulty he was having overcoming this one, wounded elf. "But
against the wrong things! You fight your memories so you can pretend
they didn’t happen, so you can hide what’s truly inside you! But I
know. You can’t hide it from me. I lived that nightmare. I learned
cruelty and I learned it well. Men taught it to me and I have returned
the favor!" Hebrilith drove the knife slowly downward, closer to
"I will never forget. I can never forget!" there was pain
as well as
twisted rage in the dark elf’s hard eyes. "But you know what it’s like,
don’t you? The hands, the eyes, the touch, the beatings, the
helplessness... again and again until you want to go mad! And you hate
them! Hate them so much you want to kill them all! Tell me it wasn’t
so? Tell me you did not rejoice to see the men who did that to you
perish! Tell me you did not enjoy the fact that they died a horrible
death?! But you can’t, can you?"
Legolas momentarily closed his eyes, his breath
coming quick and fast
as the dark elf rubbed his face in things he had worked long and hard
to forget. Hebrilith was hitting way below the belt with these tactics.
The knife dropped lower, until it was resting against Legolas’ exposed
throat and only a little more pressure would end the elf prince’s life
"Legolas! Don’t listen to him!" Aragorn shouted
murderously angry at the games Hebrilith was playing on his friend. He
knew Legolas’ own insecurities on this subject, knew that Legolas had
already been having his own doubts... now the dark elf was using those
doubts and those old hurts as a deadly playing piece.
The young ranger blinked rapidly, trying to see
which of the two sets
of fighting elves were real as he finally dragged himself halfway to
his knees. "You are so much more than he says you are!" Aragorn
struggled to stay conscious.
Aragorn’s voice pulled Legolas back from the
seductively hopeless power
of the dark one’s words. His grip on the knife handle tightened.
Hebrilith scowled at him. "Yes, yes, listen to the
little human. Yet he
has not the strength to save himself, or you. Men are weak! They
deserve to die!"
Legolas’ eyes hardened. "So you say. Yet I have
learned much from this
one, about forgiveness and letting go of the past, something you should
have done long ago, Hebrilith!" the prince ground out between his
"I do not deny that I was not sorry to see the men who hurt me die! But
I did not take their lives, and I have not sought the lives of others
to pay for their crimes!"
Legolas looked squarely into Hebrilith’s cold eyes.
"I am not like
you Hebrilith. I never will be." For the first time, Legolas really
believed that as he said it, and the resolve strengthened him.
Hebrilith growled in anger and pressed down hard
against the knife,
leaning on his arm and adding the weight of his body to force the
Suddenly, in one quick move, Legolas risked swinging
one arm free of
the struggle and struck Hebrilith upside the head, his curled fist
seeking out the soft spot just below the dark elf’s ear and jaw, which
were pressure points unique to elves.
The move worked and Hebrilith’s eyes rolled back in
his head as he was
momentarily stunned. Legolas seized the advantage to roll him over and
gain the upper position, placing the tip of the knife directly over the
dark elf’s heart for the cleanest, fastest kill. Yet... the prince
hesitated. It was hard, hard to think of taking the life of someone who
could not fight back. He knew that Hebrilith intended to kill both him
and Aragorn, he knew that Lord Elrond was probably right, there was no
other way... yet warrior though he was, Legolas was not a killer by
nature or inclination.
Hebrilith blinked slowly as the stun wore off, and
Legolas knew he may
be losing his chance, but when he looked down at the elf below him he
felt such incredible sadness... so deep it nearly broke his heart. If
compassion was a weakness, then it was one of Legolas’ faults.
Hebrilith took in the situation, but did not move.
He knew that Legolas
could kill him instantly with a move, but the elf prince hesitated...
he didn’t know why. "Do it," he said darkly.
"Hebrilith..." Legolas shook his head slowly. "I
don’t want to kill
The elf looked up at Legolas with a slightly
nonplussed look on his
face. "Then you really aren’t like me," he said coldly.
"Hebrilith, let us help you," Legolas pleaded
softly. "Lord Elrond and
the others... they would help if you let them! You could be free... if
you just let go of your hate and your pain..."
Hebrilith met Legolas’ eyes with a surprisingly
honest stare. "It’s far
too late for that," he whispered. "There is no help for me in this
Away through the trees they heard the sound of
"Estel? Legolas? Estel!!" it was Elrohir’s voice calling desperately
from a distance off.
Hebrilith’s face tightened. "I will not be taken a
prisoner! I will not
live behind bars again!" Moving suddenly, Hebrilith grabbed Legolas’
hands and forced the knife down, into his own heart.
Shocked by the sudden, unexpected move, Legolas
pulled away from the
knife, bending forward quickly, but it was too late for Hebrilith.
"It’s better this way..." the dark elf murmured as
his eyes closed. "If
you wanted to set me free, son of Thranduil... you have..." Then he
breathed no more and his spirit fled away, free at last of the tortured
existence it had led.
Legolas folded the dead elf’s arms over his chest,
removing the knife.
"May you find peace for your hurting soul in the halls of Mandos,"
he whispered quietly.
Moving slowly and painfully to Aragorn’s side,
Legolas used the bloody
knife to cut the ropes between the Dùnadan’s wrists and ankles.
Aragorn didn’t know if it were Hebrilith or Legolas’ blood on the
knife. Aragorn could hardly sit up on his own, so Legolas helped him up
and the young ranger leaned slightly against his friend.
"Aragorn... you’re hurt..." Legolas blinked several
times to keep his
own vision clear.
Aragorn laughed weakly, but his eyes reflected his
"That’s the pot calling the kettle black, isn’t it?" he asked,
observing his friend’s bloodstained appearance.
Legolas smiled but was too weary and drained to
Elladan burst into the clearing with Elrohir not far
behind. They took
in the situation quickly. Hebrilith dead on the ground, Aragorn half
leaning against Legolas, with the elf prince bending over him... they
did not yet see Legolas’ injuries.
"Estel! Estel are you all right?!" Elrohir dropped
to his adopted
brother’s side, concern etched across his features.
"I told you this was a bad idea!" Elladan sank down
on the other side.
"Estel you could have been killed!" He gently moved the ranger’s cloak
from his shoulder and inspected the knife wound the man had sustained.
"Yeah... I know," Aragorn regarded them wryly. He
from his brother's attention to his shoulder and simply held his
throbbing head, while the elf tried to staunch the bleeding. "Next time
I volunteer to be bait, please just shoot me first, all right?"
"I may take you up on that, brother!" Elladan shook
his head, obviously
relieved beyond words to find his little brother alive.
"Hebrilith is dead then," Elrohir said softly,
glancing over at the
Legolas nodded slowly, battling the haze in his
vision. "I-I think he
actually wanted it... he..." suddenly Legolas fell backward,
consciousness fleeing him without his leave.
"Legolas!" Aragorn and the twins said at nearly the
same time. Elladan
checked the prince’s vitals while Elrohir moved Legolas’ bloodstained
hand away from his side, revealing the nasty-looking injury concealed
Aragorn pressed forward, despite his own wooziness.
Hebrilith to save me... I think he was hurt pretty bad. We’ve got to
get him back to father..."
"We will Estel, we will," Elladan assured as they
quickly bound up
Legolas’ wounds to stop the worst of the bleeding. The wounds were
serious, but not fatal, and nothing that couldn’t be healed completely
"You know..." Elrohir couldn’t help shooting his
human brother a small
grin. "This really is going to top it all off, I hope you realize.
Father is going to get so
tired of you dragging this poor prince back
to him to get fixed up... honestly, do you two hunt out trouble, or
does it just find you?"
Aragorn gave his older, elven brother a withering
glare, but was spared
from answering because Legolas was waking.
"I heard that," the elf prince murmured as Elladan
helped his twin
brother maneuver their semi-conscious guest onto the back of Elrohir’s
horse. "I can walk," he protested. "Just once I’d like to enter your
house under my own power..."
"Not today," Elrohir held Legolas still with a firm
hand as he swung
lightly up behind the prince. "You’ve lost a lot of blood, my friend,
don’t make this more complicated for us all."
Aragorn laughed as he struggled to his feet, only to
stagger and have
Elladan catch him.
"That goes for you too, Estel," Elladan added,
fixing the young human
with a dry look that wiped the smile off the Dùnadan’s features.
"But I’m fine! It’s just a little knock on the head,
a flesh wound
that’s all..." Aragorn protested, but his brothers would have none of
it and in the end he was seated on Elladan’s horse with his older
brother’s arms wrapped firmly around his waist. In reality he supposed
he oughtn’t to complain so much. His head was still hammering so
painfully he was surprised that no one else could see the sparks flying
and his shoulder throbbed incessantly from the knife wound. The young
ranger tilted unsteadily to one side, but his elven brother’s strong
arms were there to keep him balanced and secure.
"Rest now, Estel, you’ve had a rough couple of
cliffs, attempted murder... I think you’ve got some kind of new record
going." Elladan shook his head as he settled his little brother’s
weight back against his body more fully. He glanced sideways at where
the prince of Mirkwood was similarly situated in Elrohir’s protective
hold. The elder twin shook his head, letting his chin rest lightly
against Estel’s dark, wind-tossed hair. "You know, Legolas, I’m
beginning to think that you’re a bad influence on our little brother!"
"Me?!" Legolas protested. "I had a perfectly normal
life until your
brother inflicted himself upon me! Just look what has happened since!"
The jest was gently meant and they all knew it.
"Normal, right," Aragorn rolled his eyes, then
winced because that
hurt. "Father’s not going to like this at all, is he?" he sighed as
they made their way through the woods. It seemed he was forever ending
up in trouble for his jams and scrapes... but they weren’t his fault...
really... well, maybe a little, but...
"Oh just wait until he hears about your brilliant
bait idea..." Elrohir
shook his head, an impish glitter in his eyes. "You really outdid
yourself, Estel, even for a human..."
"Hey, it worked didn’t it? Maybe not like we
"Nothing you come up with ever works like it’s
"You know, you two went along with it, Elladan. What
do you think
Father’s going to think about that?"
Aragorn mumbled with
The twins exchanged a look. "Oh, Valar," Elrohir
sighed. "We’re all
going to be in trouble."
It was so ridiculous that they all laughed a little,