Chapter 3

by Cassia and Siobhan

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Legolas didn’t know what it was that woke him, but his senses were instantly on the alert and he automatically reached for his weapons as he sat up.  The rest of the camp was still sleeping and his quiet movements did not wake them.  Trying to figure out what had alerted him, Legolas slipped his quiver over one shoulder and picked up his bow, sliding quietly to the edge of the camp and peering into the darkness beyond. 

Nothing stirred, nothing seemed amiss, and yet... 

The elf moved quietly towards the woods on the far-left flank of the camp, sliding away from the others and passing over the starlit grass without so much as a whisper to give away his passage. 

He paused.  The sense of danger pressing near made the hairs on the back of his neck prickle warningly and he fitted an arrow to the string of his bow, looking around, straining to see any movement in the dark, moonless night that would give away the nature of the threat that was screaming in his mind. 

Nothing.  Silence.  The wind in the tree branches.  What had drawn him over here? 

Was he the only one that sensed something wrong?  Had the sentries heard and seen anything he wondered?  Turning back towards the camp, now some ways distant, he scanned for any sign that the two men standing guard on the perimeter were on alert... that’s when the elf realized that there was no sign of the sentries.  But there were a number of dark shapes moving silently around the wagons on the opposite side of camp. 

Legolas shouted a warning, but was now too far away to rouse anyone.  Suddenly a volley of arrows from the shadow of the trees behind him hissed silently by his head and grazed his side in the dark.  Feeling the sharp, passing bite of the arrow, the prince threw himself to the ground and rolled out of the path of the second volley. 

One of the mules nickered and brayed in irritation as it was quickly hitched back to the wagon it had only recently been freed of. 

Startled from his sleep by the sound, Castamir rolled up on his elbow and saw the moving forms.  Then his gaze fell on the empty sleeping place across the fire from him; Legolas was gone.  Swearing loudly the soldier jumped to his feet and raised the alarm. 

A cry of warning went up as the sleepy troopers jumped to their feet, looking around and trying to see what had happened, but the alarm had been sounded too late, their position was already surrounded.  Absolute chaos erupted as the unknown attackers clashed with the awakening troops, attempting to overwhelm them and press their surprise advantage.  Cold steel crashed and slashed under the stars and in the darkness it was difficult to tell who was a friend and who was an enemy among the mass of churning bodies. 

Rolling swiftly once more, Legolas came up on one knee, stringing an arrow faster than sight and letting it fly into the darkened woods.  He had nothing to aim at other than the direction that the projectiles were coming from but he whipped off a few in that vicinity anyway.  No more arrows came from that direction but a swift rustling of the trees on his immediate right made the elven archer spin and swiftly dart off another two rounds.  There was a muffled cry and a crash which told Legolas that this time he had definitely hit something. 

Turning towards the camp once more, the prince saw that most of the wagons had successfully been pulled away by the attackers who now had the soldiers completely encircled.  Running back to help, Legolas put an arrow on the string... but in the darkness and with everyone moving so quickly it was hard to tell the soldiers from their attackers and he could not shoot.  Relinquishing his bow for his knives, the elf jumped into the fray. 

However the attackers did not seem interested in obliterating the soldiers, only keeping them detained long enough so that the wagon loads of armor and weaponry could be safely gotten away. 

Less than a half-hour later nearly all the attackers had either run off after their fellows or were dead. 

Breathing heavily, Legolas sheathed his knives as he watched the last two attackers fall at the hands of the men across the camp.  Suddenly a strong set of arms grabbed him from behind and threw him forward to the earth.  The elf squirmed around quickly, ready to deal with the new threat, but when he found himself staring up into Castamir’s angry face he stopped, thinking the Gondorian had mistaken him for an enemy in the dark.  

Instead of releasing him however, as Legolas expected, Castamir pressed his bloody blade against the elf’s throat.  “Oh no, you’re not getting away too.  Don’t move a muscle if you know what’s good for you.” 

Legolas’ eyes registered shock and then anger.  “What do you think you are doing?” 

“That’s what you have to answer, elf,” Castamir ground out through his teeth, keeping Legolas pinned firmly on the ground.  

Torches were quickly being kindled and soon the ruined camp was illuminated by the twisting, dancing glow of firelight casting skipping shadows across the forms of the dead and dying. 

Alcarin kicked over the body of one of their fallen enemies.  The apparent feelings of disgust and anger were ones that were shared by all the soldiers present.  The armor and weapons they had been transporting were gone; stolen right out from under them, and on top of that a number of their own were now dead.  They dare not follow the numerically superior force that had attacked them while it was still dark and by morning they would be miles away.  This was a catastrophe. 

The lieutenant’s eyes caught on Castamir and Legolas, finally taking in the situation.  Several other soldiers had also seen and gathered round. 

“What?” Alcarin’s voice was short and clipped, his eyes demanding an answer from SOMEONE about what was going on. 

“Ask him that,” Castamir gave the elf under him a small shove.  “I woke up and raised the first alarm. Guess who wasn’t in his bed.”  Several of the other men nodded hesitant concurrence.  It was true; they had seen the same when they were rudely awakened.  

With a jolt Legolas realized what the man was accusing him of.  “Something woke me, there was movement in the woods and I went to look,” he protested quickly and not without a hint of indignity.  “By the time I saw the danger to the camp it was too late.  There were attackers in the woods and we traded arrows.  I returned here to help with the fight.  Let me up.” 

“Convenient,” Castamir growled.  “You thought there was something out there and you didn’t bother to wake any one else?  You’re either a liar or an idiot.” 

“I did not realize the danger was so near at hand.  I shouted a warning but was too far away to be heard.” Legolas leveled the soldier holding him down with an even glare.  “It may have been an error on my part but it does not make me a traitor or whatever else you are thinking right now.” 

“Let him up,” Alcarin jerked his head at Castamir, silencing his under officer with a motion when the other man started to protest.  “He says there were arrows fired by the woods. It’s easy enough to check.  Some of you men go and look around there for what may have happened.  Bring torches and be wary in case there is anyone still out there.  Roel, Hurgil, see if you can figure out what happened to the sentries.  I want to know why we had no warning of this!  Tegan, Mannon, make sure the area is secure and there is no one else about.  The rest of you... care for the dead,” the lieutenant issued a rapid string of orders to his men before his eyes fell back on Castamir who still had his sword at Legolas’ neck, kneeling over him. 

“It is not in our law to assume people guilty on circumstance alone, Castamir.  I said let him up,” the young man repeated somewhat tersely.  “Watch him, but let’s not jump to conclusions. Do you understand me?” 

Castamir nodded grudgingly as he slowly backed off and allowed Legolas to sit up. 

“Your pardon, Legolas, but understand that I don’t know what to think right now.  So I’m going to ask you to stay right here and not attempt to do anything until we have a little more information to work with,” Alcarin requested, catching the elf’s eyes for a moment. 

“Of course,” Legolas nodded.  He was innocent and had no intention of trying anything that would make him look otherwise. 

Castamir eyed the elf in an unfriendly manner but did as his commanding officer bid him. 

More torches were kindled and soon the entire area was as bright as daylight.  Fifteen or twenty long minutes passed with soldiers going back and forth carrying out their tasks of removing the dead, salvaging their goods and other errands that did not hold the prince’s attention. 

Despite how much he would have liked to help, Legolas stayed kneeling on the grass because Castamir glared at him every time he moved and seemed to consider even the thought of the act of standing as a breach of the orders Alcarin had given. 

He looked up when the small group of men that Alcarin had sent to check the woods returned. They were carrying two bodies with them and Legolas supposed they were some of the attackers he must have shot. 

The looks on the men’s faces were grim as they greeted Alcarin and, without knowing why, Legolas’ heart gave a funny skip as a small feeling of dread crept back into his stomach. 

“We found no arrows on the ground anywhere near the woods or any signs of a fight.  What we did find... was what happened to the sentries,” the soldiers reported with a dark tone as they laid their burdens down. 

Two dead men... but no.  Not just dead men.  Dead soldiers.  Young Elan and his friend Krit.  As the soldiers laid them down they were forced to let the bodies roll on their faces, because a single long arrow protruded from the back of each of the slain sentries. 

Legolas eyes widened with a flash of horror he could not suppress because he knew whose arrows those were.  They were his.  

“We found them just on the edges of the woods.  They could have been dragged there and left but we found no marks to indicate such, so it is more likely they fell where they were killed,” the soldiers continued, their looks bitter.  It was hard to lose the young ones like this. 

Alcarin squared his jaw as he knelt to examine the bodies, pulling the arrow from Elan’s back.  “Bring me his quiver,” he gestured towards where Castamir had deposited Legolas’ weapons after removing them from him before. 

“There’s no need,” Legolas said quietly.  “You are right in your guess.  Those arrows are mine.”  It would have done no good to deny it; elves used a unique spiral-bound fletching technique to make their arrows fly straighter, one that men had never picked up.  Legolas’ arrows might as well have had his name written on them, which as a matter of fact some of them did. 

An outraged murmur rippled through the camp and Castamir’s gaze turned deadly. 

Legolas wanted to say it wasn’t what they thought, that it wasn’t his hand that loosed those arrows.  But... could he be sure?  If their attackers had killed the sentries and disposed of them, they never could have used his arrows to do it.  He had fired into the woods... someone had been hit.  If no other bodies had been found... that thought hurt, a lot. 

“Why?” Alcarin was shaking his head slowly, his gaze locking on Legolas.  “Why?!  Elan followed you around like a puppy dog.  How could you do this?” 

Legolas shook his head, still reeling in shock from this whole turn of events.  “I didn’t!  Or... at least not what you’re thinking!” he protested with a hint of anguish in his voice. 

“I told you, I fired into the woods.  First at where the arrows were coming from, but then there was movement from another direction and I shot again.  I hit someone.  It was dark, I could not see into the trees to know.”  Legolas still didn’t think he could have hit both the soldiers, and perfectly in the back no less, but right now he couldn’t figure out what to think and his heart was hurting that he might have been able to make such a horrible mistake.  He swallowed hard around the lump in his throat.  He knew he wasn’t a traitor, but if he were even accidentally responsible for the death of these young ones he wasn’t sure he could ever forgive himself.  “There was no reason to believe any of your men would be out there, the sentries had no business in the woods.  I-I cannot tell you truly if I did or did not deliver the fatal shots, but I swear to you by everything true that if I did it was purely by accident and never, never intentional.” 

“So you say,” Castamir ground out bitterly.  “But what would they have been doing in the woods?  Unless someone they trusted had brought them there, perhaps saying there was danger?  Is that how it happened?  Look at them!” he gestured angrily at the corpses.  “These arrows were obviously fired at close range.  You lured them away from camp by faking having heard something in the woods.  Elan would have done anything you told him to.  So you brought them out there where we couldn’t hear and shot them both in the back, isn’t that what happened?!” 

“No!” Legolas shook his head desperately.  “No!  I would never have hurt them wittingly!  I have no reason to!” 

“Oh I’d say a small fortune in armor and weapons is a pretty compelling reason,” one of the other soldiers shook his head.  “With them gone there was no one to alert us to the danger until it was too late.” 

“Who?” Alcarin’s voice cut in again, quiet and stony.  “Who were you working with, Legolas.  Why?” 

“No one!  I didn’t do this!” Legolas continued to defend his innocence, but his sinking heart told him that no one was going to believe him.  The evidence against him was overwhelming and he could not explain it away even to himself.  He didn’t understand what had happened or how.  “I didn’t,” his voice fell to a whisper. 

“The facts say otherwise, Legolas,” Alcarin shook his head.  “You say you were shot at, yet there are no arrows but yours out there.  Elan and Krit would never have let a stranger near enough to shoot them like this and if they were killed at their posts, someone would have heard something.  This is my fault,” his eyes hardened.  “I should never have trusted you.” 

“I don’t know how to explain it either, but I swear to you I did not do this!” Legolas shook his head again, still in shock from this sudden turn of events. 

“I wish I could believe you,” the lieutenant said quietly.  “But that is not mine to decide even if I would.  Legolas, son of Thranduil, you are under arrest for high treason against the people of Gondor.” 

Legolas blinked numbly as Castamir pulled his hands behind his back, securing the elf’s wrists firmly with tight cords.  He couldn’t believe this was happening.  “What are you going to do with me?” he asked softly. 

“By our law cases of treason can only be tried by the Steward himself.  You will be taken to Minas Tirith to await the judgment of Lord Ecthelion,” Alcarin informed.  “Only he can decide your fate.” 

Legolas dropped his gaze as he was prodded to his feet.  His head was spinning.  Everything seemed to have happened so fast it was unreal.  An icy bite of familiar fear was working its way through his insides.  Part of his mind was screaming for him to run, to not let this happen, but the other part knew that even if he got away that would only confirm his guilt in everyone’s mind and leave on him the shameful mark of a murderer and a traitor.  Besides, there was no way to run without having to hurt or possibly kill more of the soldiers.  And that Legolas would not do. 

The elf steeled his jaw and lifted his head.  So, he would plead his case to the Steward then.  If he were a killer, it was only an accidental one, and no real connection could be proved between he and whoever attacked them... or so he hoped.  After tonight he wasn’t sure of anything.  But still, this was Gondor, not some backwater town full of superstitious ignorants who would just as soon hang an elf as look at one, so that was some comfort at least. 

Legolas had no choice but to put his trust in the hope that justice still worked in Gondor... and pray to the Valar that that was true.   


Legolas sat quietly with his back against the tree he was bound to.  Darkness covered the small camp and only the sentries stirred on the fringes of the dying firelight.  The elf, however, was not resting, nor was he likely to find any this night.  It was not because his position was that uncomfortable, although it was far from pleasant.   No, it was his own troubled state of mind and the heaviness in his heart that did not allow the prince the sleep his weary body was asking for. 

The soldiers had followed the trail of their mysterious attackers but it did not go very far before it led down to the river’s edge.  The wagons were left empty and abandoned on the sandy bank and it was obvious that the thieves had loaded their pilfered cargo and the cart animals onto a ship that had been waiting to meet them.  
The whole venture had obviously been far too well planned to be the work of mere highwaymen, or a crime of opportunity.  It had been pulled off with a great deal of forethought and cunning; they had obviously walked right into that trap.  More disturbing than even this, however, was the fact that without a doubt, the soldiers knew who had made off with their armor and weapons. 

The Corsairs of Umbar. 

It could only be they.  No one else would have a ship capable of carrying such a heavy load and yet also navigating the oft-treacherous river shoals.  Besides, no one else had a motive; the Haradrim had already been totally beaten back and, in any case, the Haradrim were definitely not water-men.  Such a bold move on the part of the Corsairs was highly unsettling.  Alcarin had questioned Legolas very thoroughly after that, but of course the elf was able to tell them nothing.  He knew less of their enemies than they did.  To him the Corsairs of Umbar were just a name, a far away people with an ill reputation.  He had only ever had experience with one of their kind before and that had been millennia ago and nowhere near here. 

Many of the other soldiers had obviously wished to use more stringent methods of questioning than just words and threats.  Fortunately for Legolas, however, they abided by their laws regarding the treatment of prisoners who had not yet received fair trial or judgment and the worst that the prince got for the moment was dirty looks and rough handling.  

Still, it was hard.  So hard how quickly and how much things had changed. 

Legolas tilted his head back against the tree trunk behind him, half looking up at the stars above.  With idle grimness he wondered how long their restraint would last.  The prince had never been the pessimistic sort, but no matter what he tried to hope, some foreboding corner of his heart and mind whispered that he knew where this was going to lead and it was nowhere that was good for him.  He had been in similar situations too often in the past to have much faith in hope for the present; it was only a matter of time. 

Legolas sighed.  Too many bad experiences with men as a race would not allow him to dispel those nagging apprehensions.  However, even those dark thoughts were not what was keeping the elf awake. 

The prince pressed his eyes closed, obscuring the stars, feeling somehow that he did not deserve to see their beauty.  The deaths of Elan and Krit weighed heavily on his heart and spirit.  He could still see their lifeless bodies in his mind's eye.  At first, in his shock, he had been halfway sure that he could not have been the one who loosed the fatal arrows, but the more he ran the whole situation through his mind the more convinced he became that it could only have been he... although there were still a few things that didn’t make sense.  Chief among them being what the two sentries had been doing in the woods in the first place and what happened to the arrows that had been shot at him. 

The only answer the elf’s weary mind could find was that perhaps Krit and Elan had been taken by surprise and captured silently.  Then their attackers must have dragged them into the woods while their compatriots went to work and it must have been that sense of danger that woke Legolas and drew him towards the woods.  Then... then the Corsairs must have fired at him and in the scuffle perhaps Elan and Krit tried to run... 

Legolas clenched his jaw and banged his head back against the tree in angry frustration at himself, hitting hard enough to make bright flashes of unreal light shower across the inside of his closed eyelids. 

He must have shot the two boys by mistake as they tried to run.  He had been in sheer response mode.  He had fired without thinking and he knew it.  That burned his heart.  Burned badly. 

The Corsairs must have retrieved their spent arrows after he had left and gone back to join their fellows in the fight that had broken out, leaving the bodies of their dead captives. 

That must be the way it happened, no other explanation made sense.  Yet there was still the question of exactly who had tipped the Corsairs off about the soldiers’ cargo and whereabouts... but the possibilities were too numerous to count.  The way things stood it could have been anything from a real traitor hidden in the Gondorian’s ranks to an outside informant or spy whom none of them had probably ever seen. 

Yet none of that changed the fact that any way he thought it over, Legolas still found himself to be the prime suspect in the deaths of Elan and Krit.  There was simply no way that anyone else could have gotten hold of his arrows.  He always kept them all accounted for and he knew he had not been missing any when he woke up and headed out to the woods. 

Children.  Even by human standards those boys had been mere children yet.  Legolas swallowed raggedly.  Elan had reminded him so much of his friend Aragorn when Legolas had first met him, even though Elan was younger.  He remembered how the teenage soldier had been awed by the elf’s bowmanship.  Elan, Krit and Tyrion, another young soldier, had begged and begged until Legolas agreed to show them more of what he could do.  Even the older soldiers had joined in to watch the show. 

Legolas bit his lip.  Those had been good times.  Which made them all the more painful to remember now.  With a soft, sad smile the prince recalled the way that Elan and Tyrion had argued fiercely over who got the honor of retrieving Legolas’ arrows from the targets until Alcarin had stepped in and settled the dispute by doing it himself with much good-natured disapproval.  Elendur, a veteran fighter of many wars, had teased the young boys about their youthful energy... now Elendur was dead, killed in the battle with the Corsairs.  And Elan and Krit were dead.  Killed by.... Legolas let his head slump forward.  Humans died so easily... it always saddened and even somewhat frightened the elf; sometimes they seemed so fragile... and he had possibly shortened already short lives.  This was not going to be an easy guilt to live with. 

The elf prince was still awake when rosy dawn began to creep across the fields and forests of Gondor and he greeted the dawn with weary eyes.  Presently the camp began to stir and the soldiers wakened to start their day. 

Breakfast was placed on the ground next to Legolas while the soldiers took their own food and prepared for the day’s march.  They obviously had no intention of untying the prisoner so he could use his hands to eat and Legolas equally had no intention of bending down to eat off the ground like a dog. 

Presently Castamir and Tyrion came over. Tyrion loosed the elf from the tree, although his hands remained bound behind him.  Castamir tugged Legolas to his feet, giving the prisoner a cold look. 

“Not hungry?” the soldier nodded at the untouched food.  “What’s the matter?  I wouldn’t have thought anything could turn the stomach of a cold-blooded murderer.” 

Legolas fixed Castamir with a silent glare.  He wouldn’t waste words on the man; it would serve no purpose. 

Legolas’ lack of response irritated Castamir and he gave the prince a shake by the shoulder he was still holding, putting his face close to the elf’s and speaking softly.  “Doesn’t it bother you at all, what you have done?  How can there be people like you on this earth?” the man’s voice choked slightly.  “Did you know that Krit was my sister’s boy?  Well he was.  Do you know that I’m going to have to be the one to tell her why he isn’t coming home?  But you don’t care about that, do you?” 

Castamir’s breath smelled of alcohol and considering that it was yet early in the morning that was not a settling thought.  Most of the other soldiers had moved away to the ridge, readying for departure, leaving only Castamir and Tyrion to get the prisoner moving. 

“Do you?!” Castamir repeated harshly and Legolas pulled roughly away from his painfully tight grip. 

“If there is a traitor here, it is not I,” Legolas said icily, staring straight into Castamir’s eyes.  “And perhaps you know that just as well as I do.” 

The soldier’s eyes flashed and he slapped Legolas, hard.  “You little son of Sauron!  How dare you?!”  Castamir grabbed one of Legolas’ bound arms and with his other hand he struck the elf across the face again. 

Legolas started and began to pull away, but Castamir jerked the bound elf sideways, making Legolas stumble and holding him at a disadvantage as he struck the elf again and again, the open-handed blows falling in rapid succession until the prince’s mouth and nose were bleeding. 

Half dropping, half shoving Legolas, Castamir let him fall to the ground, kicking the elf in the ribs and planting his booted foot on the elf’s back, directly between Legolas’ shoulder-blades, pressing down sharply and grinding the prince painfully against the earth. 

Tyrion watched with huge eyes, looking as if maybe he should do something, but unwilling to cross his superior officer.  Besides... it had been his two best friends that were killed. 

“What is the meaning of this?” a hard, questioning voice made Castamir jerk.  He spun around to find Alcarin approaching with a dark frown on his face.  “Castamir?  I asked you a question,” Alcarin repeated when he stopped next to them. 

Castamir was lost for words only for a moment before he quickly re-gathered himself.  “The prisoner was attempting to escape sir.  We had to bring him down.” 

If Legolas’ face hadn’t been pressed against the ground his jaw would have dropped.  “I did n-” 

Castamir’s weight dropped heavily on the boot between the elf’s shoulders, pressing all the air from Legolas’ lungs and cutting off his protest as the prisoner was forced to gasp for air. 

“We had to bring him down,” Castamir repeated calmly.  “Isn’t that right, Tyrion?” 

Tyrion looked fit to choke on the unexpected question and pressure being placed on him when Castamir’s burning gaze bored into him.  “I - Yes.”  The young man steeled his jaw.  “Yes it is.” 

“With all due respect, sir, I told you we had to be more careful with him,” Castamir put in, giving another good dig with his boot to keep Legolas from being able to draw enough breath to protest this blatant lie.  It wouldn’t have mattered if he had though.  It was two to one and as a suspected traitor Legolas knew his word carried no weight anyway. 

Alcarin glanced skeptically between them.  “I see.  As I’m sure you both already know, the usual punishment for prisoners attempting to escape is twenty-five lashes.” 

Legolas, who had been trying to lift his head, dropped it back to the earth, resisting the urge to moan.  This was not fair!  He had done nothing.  Nothing!  But that didn’t matter.  It never mattered.  He balled his bound fists tightly. 

“I suppose you would be more than glad to carry that sentence out, wouldn’t you, Castamir?” Alcarin’s tone was unmistakably dry.  He had never been on the best of terms with his second-in-command. 

In truth, nothing would have pleased him more, but Castamir did not miss the slightly acidic tone in his commander’s voice and was wary about his answer.  All he did was nod.  “If such were my duty, sir.” 

“I thought as much.  However, since this escape attempt seems to have consisted of all of perhaps three steps from where the prisoner was being kept, and since it looks as if you have already carried out your duties quite zealously,” Alcarin glanced at the elf’s bleeding face.  “I think we can forgo formal punishment at this time.  If you have trouble handling him, you may use a restraint halter, but I expect to never have to come across another situation like this, no matter whose fault it is, do you understand?”  Alcarin’s gaze was leveled at Castamir and it was obvious that the warning was for him. 

Castamir saluted, hiding the dark look on his face so that it only showed behind his eyes.  “Yes, sir. Of course.” 

“Very well then, we depart in a quarter-hour.  Everyone back to their duties.”  The lieutenant addressed the last part to some of the other soldiers who had stopped to gawk.  Turning away, Alcarin followed his own advice and went back to work. 

With one last sharp dig of his boot, Castamir released Legolas.  Twining his hand in the elf’s hair he used it as a handle to drag the prince up onto his knees. 

Legolas coughed and wiped his bleeding mouth against his shoulder since his hands were held useless behind him. 

Castamir had retrieved a long piece of rope and was busy tying some funny looking knots into it as Legolas caught his breath.  Kneeling down he threaded the knotted rope under Legolas’ armpits and around his chest, passing the other end to Tyrion when it got out of his reach. 

The elf did not attempt to resist.  It would have been futile anyway.  But he fixed his gaze on the two humans working around him.  “You lied.  I did not try to run,” he said quietly now that he had enough breath to do so, his voice a trifle hoarse. 

Tyrion looked away, refusing to meet the prisoner’s eyes, hiding the shame he felt within as he passed the knotted rope back around to Castamir. 

“Go ahead and tell them that if you think it will do any good,” Castamir looped the rope around Legolas’ upper right arm before bringing it back around the front of his chest and doing the same on the left side.  “If you think the word of a murderous traitor is going to mean anything to anyone.” 

Legolas sighed silently and looked away.  No, he didn’t imagine it would.  However if this was the kind of justice he could expect when they arrived in Minas Tirith... the prince was greatly beginning to fear his future. 

Castamir brought the ends of the rope around Legolas’ back one last time and tied them off.  Legolas didn’t really understand what all this was about or why it was being done until Castamir took hold of the two lengths of rope that lay across his back and pulled upward, using them to drag the elf to his feet. 

The knots in the rope dug sharply into the elf’s chest, back and arms when it was tugged on, making any thought of resistance an extremely painful idea. 

Castamir gave the ropes a quick, vicious twist; pulling Legolas back towards him slightly and making the prince wince and grit his teeth in pain.  Holding the ropes still twisted tight, Castamir leaned forward and whispered into Legolas’ ear. 

“Look, I know what you are, elf.  Your injured innocence act doesn’t fool me.  Alcarin and the others may hide their own timidity behind talk of laws and regulations, but those laws were never meant to protect the likes of you.  Give me any reason at all, and I will give you the hell you deserve.  Do you understand me?” 

Another sharp twist of the twin ropes elicited a sharp moan from between the elf’s gritted teeth.  It was amazing how painful those simple, knotted cords could be when they were wrapped and twisted right.  Legolas felt as if they were trying to break through his skin, tunic and all, they were digging in so hard. 

“I’ll take that as a yes,” Castamir growled quietly, releasing the ropes and giving the elf a small shove away from him. 

Legolas stumbled slightly but quickly regained his balance and pulled himself up straight and proud, fixing a cold glare at his tormentors.  They had no idea how many times, or how fast he could have gotten away from them if he had so desired. 

“I submitted myself to be judged by your laws.  I have no intention of dishonoring that,” the prince said simply.  “If you do not trouble me, I will not trouble you.” 

Castamir shot the elf a dark glance.  “It’s a little late for you to try to get me thinking you’ve got a noble bone anywhere in your whole body, isn’t it?  Now come on, we’re getting ready to move out.” 

Legolas submitted to being led away, silently resigning himself to the fact that Castamir would probably always hate him and that, doubtless, that hatred was going to create more than a little trouble for him before this trip was over.

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