Family Trouble

Chapter 5: To See the Sky

by Cassia and Siobhan

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Aragorn glanced over his shoulder and remained very still, straining to hear what the elf had. Slowly he shook his head.  The prince’s hearing was more acute than his own. 

“There, again!” Legolas braced himself against the wall behind him and haltingly gained his feet.  Aragorn limped back to his side and helped ease his friend into a standing position. 

“What do those ears of yours hear?” Aragorn asked softly.  The elf wore an intent look as he strained to catch the sound again. 

“Scratching, moving, like boulders shifting against one another.  And...sounds...of people talking,” he responded, surprise coloring the tone of his voice.  He glanced at Aragorn and a smile slowly spread on his face.  “I think someone is digging us out!” 

“That could be good or it could be bad,” Aragorn replied cautiously. 

“How so?” 

“If those digging us out are trying to save us it will be a good thing. But if the townsfolk have to come to remove our bodies for proof of our demise...” Aragorn let the statement hang in the air. 

“Then let us pray that it is the first group,” Legolas answered with a frown.  “Leave it to you to think up something so pleasant, Aragorn.” 

“Well...  They were that superstitious,” the ranger conceded with a laugh. 

Shifting back towards the rock, Aragorn placed his face in a crack made by two large boulders and called out in hopes of a rescue party. 



Elrohir stopped digging.  He reached out and quickly grabbed Garith’s hands, stilling the young hunter’s movements. 

“Did you hear that?” the elven twin asked.  He pressed the side of his face against the rock in front of him and listened intently. 

Those around him stopped their digging and watched the elf. 

“Elrohir?”  Elladan walked over next to his brother. Placing his hand on his twin's back he leaned in next to the raven-haired elf, his face inches from Elrohir’s. 

“I could swear I heard Estel call your name,” Elrohir whispered. 

“Estel!” Elladan shouted at the rock wall.  “Estel, can you hear me!” Quickly he pressed his ear back against the stones and quieted. 

“Elladan! Elrohir! We are here! Get us out!” the barely heard shout reached the heightened hearing of the two elves. 

When the twins erupted with shouts of joy, the men working nearby them spontaneously joined in. 

“Are they alive?” Taradin shoved his way nearer the twins. 

It had taken them the better part of the night to backtrack with Trenth and Renning to the place where the townsfolk had buried the ranger and the elf prince.  And nearly half that time was spent convincing Trenth that the elf they buried was not the one that had harassed their village and killed their hunters. 

With great reluctance the older man had agreed to trust Taradin.  For his part, Taradin had promised to go back with Renning and Trenth and set the village straight.  The twins had no doubts that by the time he left they would all be warned off the practice of hunting elves.  The old hunter had learned that lesson the hard way and he had never forgotten. 

When they reached the cleft nothing was left of the rock face that looked remotely familiar to the ones used to traveling these parts.  The side of the mountain appeared to have caved in on itself, demolishing the overhang Renning had spoken of.  A veil of rocks and boulders covered the mountainside and spilled down the base.  The twisted trunk of a tree stood at an odd angle from the hill amidst the rubble, the only evidence that the mountain had ever looked differently at one time. 

As they surveyed the damage the villagers had done, they pressed the two townsfolk for information. 

“The cleft is not that deep,” Renning had warned them hesitantly.  “There is a possibility your brother and his friend were killed.” 

Walking away from the group of men and elves, Trenth had located the exact spot where the shallow cave had once been.  It was there they had begun working, moving aside the boulders and digging out the smaller rocks. 

Taradin carried little hope for their survival, but had wisely kept his thoughts to himself.  On more than one occasion he had been proven incorrect about these two.  He now considered the ranger and the elf trusted friends and desperately hoped they would find them alive. 

The elven twins worked in tandem with one another. Once they had been told the location and Renning had explained that the cleft was no more than a shallow cave that indented the rock face, they had not stopped to speak with anyone. This was the first time since they arrived at the mountain that either twin had spoken aloud. 

Turning back to Taradin, Elladan smiled widely at the man. “Yes they live.  Estel can hear us!” the dark-haired elf replied.  The tears that brightened his eyes were easily visible in the early morning light.  “We must hurry.” 

“Wait!”  Taradin cautioned.  Stepping back, he eyed the side of the mountain.  “If we dig from this position and that cavern is as shallow as young Renning says, we’ll bury them before we reach them.” 

Silence fell among the small group. 

Elladan glanced at Elrohir.  To have come so far only to cause their deaths infuriated him.  He glowered at Trenth where the old man stood leaning on a shovel handle. 

Elrohir touched his brother’s arm, knowing the thoughts going through his twin’s mind. 

“Yes, but if we dig from the top and the base at the same time it will ease up the pressure enough to bring the rocks straight down instead of collapsing inward,” Renning commented softly.  He was staring at the rock wall, assessing its weak points. 

“Renning knows what he speaks of,” Trenth agreed.  “The boy used to work in the mine on the other side of the mountains. If he says we can get them out, then we can get them out.” 

With a nod Taradin turned his attention to Renning.  “You tell us what you need; we’ll do what you say.” 

In moments the younger man had divided the work force into four teams: two that attacked the top of the rock slide and two that worked below them.


When the sounds without had stopped Aragorn was sure his heart had as well.  He pressed closely to the wall and strained to hear. 

“What’s wrong? Why have they stopped? Can you hear anything?” he asked Legolas. 

The elf shook his head and closed his eyes trying to concentrate on what was happening on the other side of the wall. 

“I can hear them speaking but I do not...wait...they begin again,” Legolas answered. 

A shower of dust and small rocks rained down around them.  The prince grabbed Aragorn and pulled them both back against the far wall.  The boulders shifted and grated against one another as the weight on them began to transfer when their rescuers resumed digging. 

Pressing back into the cleft as far as they could, Aragorn dragged the elf down to the ground with him and covered the elf with his body.  His leather coat tucked tightly around them kept the worse of the debris from hitting them.  The air filled with fine dust and dirt, making breathing nearly impossible. 

Beneath him Legolas was trying not to cough; his breaths were coming in shallow, ragged gasps.  Aragorn didn’t dare glance over his shoulder. It sounded like the whole of the cave was collapsing. 

Larger rocks now fell about them, crashing into the opposing wall and littering the floor.  The rock wall had become a controlled avalanche as the weight on the top had been dispersed bringing the boulder slide down upon itself. 

To the two occupants trapped in the cave it seemed more like the end had come.  The sound was deafening and Aragorn pressed his head against Legolas’ shoulder trying to dampen the roaring.  The ranger pulled his feet up closer to him as a boulder ricocheted off the floor and rolled against his left boot.  He could feel Legolas’ hands grasp the front of his coat as the elf huddled closer. 

As soon as it had started, it stopped. 

Clean cool air rushed into the tiny cavern.  Here and there small rocks skittered down the incline from precarious landing places.  The dust began to settle, coating everything in a fine dirty powder.  At first glance it looked as though no one had survived; more to the point it looked as though no one had ever been imprisoned in the shallow cleft.


The rays of morning light were just beginning their descent down the mountain face, filtering through the newly made opening.  Elladan batted at the air about him trying ineffectually to clear it enough to breathe well.  Covering his mouth and nose with a swath of cloth, he pressed forward, climbing over the mound of stones that led up to the craggy hole.  Peering through the darkened interior he looked desperately for any signs of life. 

“Estel?  Legolas?” the twin called into the dimly lit cavern. 

Towards the back small rocks and debris shifted slightly as Aragorn slowly moved, sitting up to give Legolas more room.  The elf was curled in on himself holding his ribs tightly as he tried to catch his breath. 

“Estel?” Elrohir questioned as he climbed up next to his brother. He gazed into the cave with keen eyes and watched in astonishment as what they had assumed was a pile of rocks stood hesitantly to its feet. 

Debris fell from Aragorn’s coat and dust sifted through his hair as he turned and gazed at the patch of light behind him.  The silhouettes of the twins in the opening brought a slow smile to his face.  As one they started talking and questioning their human brother. 

“Estel are you hurt?” 

“Is Legolas all right?” 

“Are you injured?” 

“Do you need help?” the last question was asked in unison by the twins. 

With a small laugh Aragorn glanced back down at Legolas. 

“Tell them yes on all accounts, please, Estel,” the elf prince answered.  He was dirty and disheveled and hadn’t moved from his position.  A smile spread across his face mirroring the one the ranger wore. 

With a small nod Legolas accepted the hand Aragorn held out for him and allowed the human to pull him gently to his feet.  The floor of the cave was littered with rocks piled knee deep.  Only the far back of the cleft had been spared as the cave-in had been excavated. 

Elrohir scrambled over the lip of the opening and slid down inside the cavern.  He easily navigated the rocky ground cover and gained Aragorn’s side. With a sigh of relief he pulled the man into his arms and held him for the span of a heartbeat. 

“We thought you were lost to us,” he whispered softly. 

“We very nearly were,” Aragorn replied as he relaxed against his brother. He felt weaker than he wanted to admit and was glad to just be able to lean on the elf.  “You’ll have to be careful though, the townsfolk...” 

“We know about them,” Elrohir cut him off quickly.  “They will be made aware of their mistake; do not worry about that!  Taradin has accompanied us and some of the villagers are with him now.  They will go and make things right with the townspeople.”  The elf’s voice held the faintest edge of harshness to it as he pulled back from the ranger and stared into the man’s eyes. 

His human brother was filthy, covered in dirt and bruises.  Blood had dried on the side of the man’s temple, a wound that was mirrored on the elven prince that stood behind him.  The frailty of the two beings was not lost on Elrohir and he quickly called for more help. 

Elladan jumped down into the cave and brushed past Elrohir and Aragorn as he moved to help Legolas.  The way the elf held his chest tightly with his right arm bothered the twin.  As he passed by Aragorn, he stopped and touched his forehead to the human's, his right hand wrapped around the back of the man’s head. 

“Thank you,” Aragorn whispered, “I hoped you would find us.” 

“You knew I could not let you go just yet,” Elladan teased lightly. “You still owe me on that bet you lost last week. I’ll not be letting you out of it this easy.”  He smiled into the silver eyes inches from his own.  Gently he kissed the ranger’s forehead.  “Taradin is outside waiting for you.  He has water and food.  I’ll be out with Legolas in a moment.” 

Aragorn squeezed his brother’s arms and let Elrohir guide him out into the small meadow at the base of the mountain.  Sitting down on the ground he lay back in the long grasses and simply breathed deeply of the fresh air.  Elrohir gently worked his left boot off and looked over his swollen ankle.  He had a suspicion that the bone was fractured.  In moments Legolas joined the ranger.  Elladan gingerly lowered the elf prince to the ground, careful of his injuries. 

“Aragorn’s ankle and collarbone are both broken.  The ankle may only be fractured but he won’t be up on it for a bit,” Elrohir informed his twin.  He glanced up at Elladan and the ring of men that was slowly gathering around them. 

“Yes, well Legolas has broken ribs and they both look as if they took a nasty beating,” Elladan concurred.  He squinted down at the ranger that was smiling up at him; bruises decorated the man’s face round his eye and temple.  

Aragorn winced and sat up when Elrohir began bandaging his ankle to keep it stationary. 

“Well, we were going to take the two of you back into town and clear things up with the folks thereabouts,” Taradin spoke up.  He eased into the ring of men and smiled down at the elf and ranger. 

“I’m not sure that’s a good idea,” Elrohir commented.  His concern was echoed in the ranger’s response. 

“Hello, Taradin.  I am ever so glad to see you as well.  However, right now I simply wish to return home and see Ada,” Aragorn answered cryptically.  He glanced to his right and caught Legolas’ gaze. “Perhaps you can be persuasive enough for us in our absence?” 

The elf was nodding silently.  He had no wish to return to the outpost and his own thoughts were running along the same track as those of the ranger’s. 

“I too would like to see Elrond, especially in the shape I am in.  And if it would be permitted I would very much like to send my father a letter and let him know that I am well and will be staying on with you a bit longer,” Legolas requested softly. 

Aragorn was nodding slowly.  Elladan glanced over at his twin.  Something had indeed happened inside that cave.  Over the last couple of days that the human and elf had been trapped in there he sensed a subtle change in both their attitudes.  They never asked to be brought home to Elrond, especially when they were in this bad of shape.  It would make an interesting tale – one he intended to pry out of his younger sibling. 

Smiling at his oldest brother, Aragorn caught the secretive glance between the twins. 

They knew. 

His brothers knew something had transpired and if he knew the twins they would drag it out of him as soon as they were on the way home out of earshot of the hunters.  Right now though, he didn’t care.  Legolas was right, they had escaped alive and they had been given another chance.  He intended to make the most of it. 

They both would.
The End

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