The Cave Story Trio:

3: Down and Up Again: The Elves' and Ranger's Holiday

by Katie

"Down and Up Again", art by Cassia

"Down and Up Again" art by Cassia-(T)

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“You do realize I am going to have to kill him.”

“Come now, dearest. You’re not going to kill him.”

The elven-maiden looked over her shoulder and gave her human love an irritated glare.  “Fine, I won’t kill him,” Arwen said as she, Aragorn and Legolas continued descending down a long flight of stairs.  “But if we don’t find that pendant down here, I’m going to throw him in the river and he will not set foot on the bank until he has searched every inch of the bottom twice!”

The ranger laughed and turned to Legolas behind him, giving the elf a mischievous smile.  “She could do it, too.”

“Oh, I know she could,” Legolas said with a slight laugh, stepping carefully as the stairs became steeper and more slippery.  “Why do you think I’m hiding in the back?”

The three were descending down into a dark and damp cave that opened into the river below; looking for Arwen’s precious Evenstar pendant.  There had been two more to their company only a few moments ago but they had chosen to run for their lives, which at this point was probably a smart move.

Arwen, her love Aragorn, dear friend Legolas, and two brothers Elladan and Elrohir, had ridden up to the cliffs of Rivendell to swim in the pools of the Riverfalls on the warm summer day.  The sky was clear and fair, and Arwen’s elven eyes could see for miles across the lands of her home.

Her oldest brother, Elladan, was in a playful mood and challenged his little sister to a race.  “First one to the Rainbow Fall wins!” he cried, and took off towards the waterfall.

Noro lim, Asfoloth!”  Arwen whispered to her white stallion, and they raced after Elladan, who had gotten only a half length head start.  The galloping horses were neck-in-neck for most of the distance but, in the end, Arwen reached the Rainbow Fall before Elladan by a good two lengths.

The others couldn’t help but laugh at the older elf, who was fuming for losing to his baby sister.  “Come, Elladan, you brought it upon yourself,” Elrohir said to his twin as he draped an arm around his sister.  “You know perfectly well Arwen is the faster rider.”

After having a good laugh at Elladan’s expense, they all turned their attention to the coolness of the pools and the soft spray of the waterfalls.  After swimming and playing in the water for a time, Elladan decided it was his turn to have a little fun at his sister’s expense.

Arwen wore her precious Evenstar necklace nearly every minute of every day, and only ever took it off while in water.  The star-like jewel now sat on a rock next to the pool in which they were swimming and, when the elf-maid’s back was turned, her older brother grabbed it and ran towards the cliff.

“Give it back, Elladan!” she yelled as she chased after the older elf, who now dangled the pendant over the cliff’s edge by its chain.

“Now now, dear sister, be nice,” he teased. “Once false move and I might…” his words stopped suddenly at the sound of rumbling.  The rock he was standing on was not as stable as he had thought, and began to give way under his weight.  Legolas came from what seemed like nowhere and pulled Elladan to safety before the crumbling rock could take him with it. Everything had happened so fast that, without realizing it, Elladan had let the chain of the Evenstar slip though his fingers, and they all watched as the glistening silver fell from the cliff and down into the river below.

All stared open-mouthed at Elladan, who had a look of horror on his face ─ for he would never intentionally have dropped the necklace he knew his sister cherished.  “Arwen, I didn’t…” but his voice cracked as he saw the elf-maid’s usually fair complexion flush red with anger.

“I don’t think now is a good time, Elladan,” the elf’s twin whispered while pulling lightly on his arm.  “Let’s give her time to cool down.”  Elrohir led the guilty elf away before Arwen could vent her wrath upon him, sure that Estel and Legolas would be able to work things out somehow.

The question now was, had the Evenstar been lost forever?

Aragorn lost sight of it once it hit the water, and the only things Arwen could see were images of herself stringing Elladan up by his pointed ears.  Luckily, Legolas’ elven eyes followed the light of the glistening pendant as the current pulled it into a cave that the river had carved into the cliff.

“There’s a way down there,” Arwen explained, a hopeful look in her eyes at the thought of saving her precious pendant.  “The elves of old used to dock boats in the cave, and built a long flight of stairs that lead back up to the forests.  They’re not used anymore for that purpose, but we can still use the stairs to get into the cave.”

So now the three, with Arwen in the lead, descended down the ancient stairs with only the natural glow of the elves to light their way.  “Careful,” Arwen called to Aragon and Legolas behind her.  “It's getting steeper and the ceiling is coming in closer.”

“Of course, it had to be a cave,” Legolas mumbled to himself though Aragorn heard him.

“Well of course it did,” the Ranger laughed.  “That is the kind of luck we have, after all.  But at least we won't get lost in this cave since Arwen knows were we’re going.”  Aragorn heard the elf-maid clear her throat and looked back at him with uncertainty.  “You do know where we’re going, don’t you?”

“Well, no. Not exactly.”

“But you spent much of your time here in Rivendell,” Legolas said, knowing Arwen lived both in Rivendell and fair Lothlorien.  “Surely you’ve visited here before?”

“My brothers say that mother and father did take us into the cave once, but I must have been very young because I don’t remember.”

“And you never came back in all these years?”  Aragorn asked, realizing how long ago her last visit to the cave must have been if she had been too young to remember it.

“It is not a place we would frequent.  Elves do not much like caves.”

“Really?” Aragorn said in a very sarcastic tone as he turned and gave Legolas a smug smile.  “I never would have guessed.”  Legolas shot him an irritated glare, but it was one that did not meet his eyes.  In the realm of caves the two had visited, this was certainly the least offensive of them all.

“I promise you, we won’t get lost,” Arwen assured as she finally reached the bottom of the stairs and stood on the wet ground of the cave.  “It’s a very straight-forward cave, with one way in and one way out.”

“Does that mean we’re going to have to go back UP those 144 stairs?”  Aragorn groaned as he joined his love on the narrow path, and heard Legolas behind him laughing hysterically.

“You counted?!”  The prince couldn’t help but laugh, and this time it was the Ranger who shot the elf a dangerous look.

“We’ll carry you if we need to, darling.” Arwen gave the ranger a peck on the cheek as she moved past him towards the mouth of the cave.  The Human just shook his head and followed, but not before giving Legolas (who was still snickering) a playful smack on the side of the head.

The three followed the path forward — following the crashing sound of the river and the light reflecting from the water.  Arwen looked around as her elven hearing picked up a slight squeaking sound she could not place.  “What is that?”

Aragorn strained his ears to pick up what Arwen’s did, and smiled when he realized just what the squeaking was.  “Those would be bats, dear.”

The elf-maid looked up, but saw nothing.  She let her eyesight wander around the inside of the cave, but could find no sign of the winged mammals.  “They must be hiding somewhere.”

“We could make a loud noise and scare them out,” Aragorn teased.

“Let’s not and say we did,” Legolas said as he did one more quick check for any bats that might be overhead.  “Come, let us at least try to find Arwen’s pendant!”

They reached where the cave floor met the river and looked out onto the sparkling water and, as the smell of the forest and river filled their nostrils, all three had to admit that the cave indeed was beautiful.

Aragorn saw something sparkling out of the corner of his eye and turned to see a bright light shining out of the water of the cave’s mouth, and was positive it did not come from the slowly sinking sun.  Arwen let her eyes follow those of her love, and clutched his arm tightly when she saw what he did.

The Ranger was about to step out onto the slippery rocks to retrieve what he knew was the Evenstar, but felt a hand on his shoulder pull him back.  Legolas was smiling at him, shaking his head slightly.  The jagged rocks were spaced far apart, and the water crashing upon them made them even more treacherous.  Something silent passed between the two, and Aragorn nodded in understanding.  So it was Legolas who stepped out onto the rocks and, through elven grace and agility that no human could ever master, jumped almost effortlessly from one rock to another to where the glowing pendant lay beneath the water. 

The elf could see the shape of the Evenstar glittering softly under the cool and clear water.  Taking one of his arrows from his quiver, Legolas dipped it into the water and tangled the pendant’s chain around the shaft — pulling the necklace from the water in one fluid motion. 

Arwen was practically bouncing with joy as Legolas made his way back across the rocks and joined them on the cave’s solid ground once again.  He smiled to the elven maiden who looked at him with a brightness that went beyond her natural elven glow.  “I believe this belongs to you,” he said and handed the precious object to its rightful owner.

Arwen gave out a sigh of relief as she held the pendant in her hand, and looked to the ranger and elf before her and nodded to them both in gratitude.  “Thank you,” she said, and meant it with all her heart.  “Thank you both so much.”

Aragorn stepped forward and gently clasped the chain around her neck.  “There,” he said and kissed her forehead lightly.  “Are you happy again?”

“Yes, I am,” she said, and took one of Aragorn’s and Legolas’ hands in each of hers.  “Happy to be here with you two, for you are both more dear to me than you could ever know.”

The three stood for a while longer, cherishing the beauty of the fading day and one another.  Only when the sun had sunk down to where it could no longer be seen did they turn to leave.  “We should get back,” Legolas said, glancing around the cave one last time. “If we tarry any longer we will find out where those bats are hiding.”  They all laughed as they made their way back to the stairs they had come down.

Aragorn stopped just before he mounted the stairs and let out a deep sigh.  “Up the stairs…”

Legolas laughed and gave the Ranger a light push.  “Yes, Strider, UP the stairs!”

As they slowly climbed the steep staircase, Aragorn turned to look at his love who was behind Legolas.  “Dearest, you’re not going to kill Elladan now, are you?”

Arwen laughed lightly.  “No, darling, I will not kill him.  If he feels badly enough and gives me a sufficient apology, I will let it go.  If he does not, however, I will casually mention what he did to Father.  Then Father can go after him!”

The thought of Lord Elrond confronting his eldest son with “that look” in his eye was enough to send them all into fits of laughter.

“Never a dull moment in Rivendell,” Legolas said when he had recovered his breath.

“No,” Aragorn agreed, looking from Arwen to his elven friend.  “Indeed not.”

The End

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