Mistaken Identity

Part 6

by Cassia and Siobhan

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    Aragorn returned to camp first. They had decided to split up that morning. With the help of Taradin’s men, they would be able to cover much more ground than normal. Aragorn had taken the high pass that ran parallel to the northern road out of Rivendell staying near the main road, while his brothers and Legolas covered the area Aragorn had indicated that Hebrilith lived in normally.
    He had found several old campsites, most of which had belonged to men. He could tell they were men camps by the left-over refuse and the abandoned firepits. But two barely recognizable sites had been frequented by an elf and were still being used from time to time. It was harder to detect an elf’s resting place, for they tended to remove any trace of their stay, but there were telltale signs: crushed plant life around the perimeters, dirt cleaned of pine needles, light impressions of soft leather boots.
    Aragorn knew just what to look for and had been rewarded for his diligence. He believed he had found where the rogue elf had been traveling recently and bedding down of late. It would account for Taradin’s tails of mishaps in this region and the coincidence of them mistaking Legolas at the ruins. He was eager to pass on the knowledge he had obtained and was slightly disappointed when he realized that he had returned first. To occupy himself he began to start a fire and set about preparing the meal for the evening.
    The sound of a soft footfall behind him brought a smile to his face and he turned, expecting to find Legolas or his brothers walking into camp. Instead the hilt of an elven knife slammed into the back of his skull, throwing him sprawling onto the forest floor. His ears rung and he tottered on the verge of blacking out as his vision hazed. Sounds drifted in and out of his awareness as he tried vainly to press himself up into a sitting position. A knee was rammed between his shoulders and he tasted dirt as his face was pressed into the ground. Rough hands jerked him over onto his back and his hands were tightly bound in front of him.
    Sight and coherent thought returned slowly and he was momentarily stunned when he saw who his captors were. Truth to be told, he had more than expected to be greeted with Hebrilith’s icy glare, but it was not the dark elf’s eyes that met his. Instead the young ranger was completely taken by surprise to find himself staring into a different, although at the moment hardly less deadly, set of Elven eyes.
    Sarcayul stood over the young man, glaring down at him. When he noticed the human had recovered, he kicked the man viciously in the ribs and leaned down towards the ranger, "Did you really think I would let you get away with that pitiful display of mercy you favored us with in Mirkwood? Do you think you did us any favors? Why that fool of a king and his puppet son ever befriended you is beyond me." He spit at the man, who flinched away from him.
    Aragorn was still trying to catch up with this sudden twist of events. He had never expected, nor hoped to see Sarcayul or any of his followers again after the elf had tried to take his life back in Mirkwood over a fatal hunting accident involving the elf’s brother. Sarcayul had known the young ranger was not responsible for the death, but had hunted him nonetheless, eventually putting into motion the events that resulted in Legolas and Aragorn’s painful expulsion from Mirkwood. Given the choice, Aragorn had spared these elves’ lives when he could have demanded their blood, but they did not seem to appreciate his kindness. In fact, it appeared that they had simply taken it as another excuse to hate him more than ever.
    "Just kill him, Sarcayul, and let us leave before anyone returns," an elf near the edge of camp turned and called back to the warrior. Aragorn could see the tension in the elves that stood round him, glancing between the wooded forests and their leader. He silently prayed that someone would return soon.
    Sarcayul glared at down at his prisoner. "Nothing to say? What, no wise, witty statements, no magnanimous displays of forgiveness?" He reached down and grabbed the man by his bound hands hauling him to his feet. "Let’s go. I have no intentions of getting caught here by Thranduil’s brat. It doesn’t matter where I kill this one, he’s dead already."
    Everyone in Mirkwood knew of Sarcayul and his followers' dishonorable behavior and they had become outcasts in their own land. Leaving in anger, they had determined to hunt down the one who they felt was responsible for their shame. Hunt him down and kill him.
    Figuring he had nothing to lose, Aragorn wrenched himself free of the elf’s grip and made a break for the forest. If he could just get away, he could find Legolas or one of his brothers and get to safety. He had nearly gained the far side of the camp, momentary surprise on his side, when an elf warrior stepped into his path and raised his drawn bow, pointing it straight at the ranger’s head. The man skidded to a stop and looked wildly around him for another venue of escape. Sarcayul caught up with him, rage contorting his features and, before Aragorn could react, he smashed his fist into the side of the ranger’s head causing the man to stumble and his vision to haze out of focus.
    "I grow weary of you," the elf growled into his ear as he jerked Aragorn around. Taking advantage of the human’s condition Sarcayul drug him out of the camp, back to the road where the horses were waiting. They forced the ranger to mount up. Sarcayul grabbed the reins of the human’s steed once he was seated in his own saddle and jerked the animal around, leading them away from the camp and up the northern pass road.
    Nausea threatened to overcome the ranger as the elf pressed the horses into a fast trot, trying to put distance between themselves and the Noldor elves’ camp. Aragorn swallowed hard, trying to calm the sickness pressing up inside of him. His head pounded from the beating and he knew his system was simply reacting to the abuse. Panic gripped his heart like a vise and he breathed slowly as he tried to regain control of his own emotions. He had not even known that Sarcayul still hunted him. He had thought that he was free from this threat. Dealing with Hebrilith had been quite enough... having more elves out for his blood was a little bit more than Aragorn was prepared to deal with.
    The horses began to slow and Sarcayul reined them back into a slow walking gait as they began the steep ascent over the northern rim. Aragorn realized with a spike of fear that they were entering Hebrilith’s territory. If the dark elf saw him in the company of the Silvan elves, he knew that he would jeopardize the whole contingent.
    He wondered vaguely where Legolas and his brothers were and if they would realize what had happened to him.


    Legolas had come back to the camp later than he would have liked. His forays south had uncovered nothing new about the rogue elf and he was discouraged by the lack of evidence he had turned up. Hoping the others had had more success he had given up and headed back to the camp.
    As he reached the edges of the forest that surrounded their makeshift campsite he had heard voices, angry voices, voices he recognized that should not have been in this part of Rivendell, voices that made his blood run cold.
    He ran through the now empty camp and reached the passage out of Rivendell just as the last of Sarcayul’s men rode around the bend out of sight. He barely glimpsed Aragorn, bound and riding next to Sarcayul, before they were gone. Fear spurred him on and he ran up into the forests that grew along the roadside, shadowing the company as they passed on their way out of Rivendell. He had to stop them before they left the area. So intent was he that he did not realize that they had passed through the very area that the rogue elf had last been spotted in. His focus was on the man in the middle of the Silvan elves. He had nearly gained their position as they slowed to a walking gait, passing through the narrow high pathway, when the situation took on an unexpected, dangerous turn.


    Sarcayul led Aragorn’s horse up the steep winding path that led through the mountains. The passageway cut dangerously near Hebrilith’s territory and the ranger glanced about them nervously. He fought with the ropes that bound his wrists in front of him; it was hard to balance on the horse without the use of his hands.
    Sarcayul glared at the human as he tested the knots. "Stop it," he growled at the ranger, giving the reigns he held a sharp jerk. The motion caused Aragorn’s horse to skitter sideways and canter closer to the elf.
    The elf rode to the outside of the pathway, blocking Aragorn’s horse between himself and the high rock cliff face on the ranger’s right. The edge of the slight passage on Sarcayul’s side was a deep cliff that plummeted down to the base of the gorge that comprised the rift Rivendell was built into.
    Aragorn’s horse was uneasy and skittish. It moved with small steps back and forth between the hill and Sarcayul’s mount. The horse's senses were better than the humans and suddenly became acutely aware.
    "Sarcayul, we are in danger." The ranger leaned over towards the elf speaking quietly, so as not to alarm the warrior’s men behind them. His presence in their midst would be seen by the rogue elf as a threat and Aragorn did not wish to bring trouble down on their head., "We need to get to cover, quickly."
    The elf turned in his saddle faster than Aragorn was prepared for and viciously backhanded the human. "Shut up!" The force of the blow sent Aragorn rocking back on his horse, splitting his lip with the impact. It was enough for the animal to lose control of its fear and shy back away from Sarcayul in an attempt to bolt.
    Time seemed to slow for the human. He tried to regain his balance on the animal he rode but was unable to. Sarcayul leaned forward to grab the horse’s reins once more and, as he did so, the sound of an arrow whistled inches from Aragorn’s face. The weapon flew past him and bit deeply into the warrior’s shoulder above his heart. The force of the projectile threw the elf backwards and he found himself slipping from his saddle. Wildly he flailed his arms trying to maintain his balance or grasp hold of something stationary to stop him. His fingers found purchase in Aragorn’s overcoat, but the man was still attempting to rein in his mount and was unable to compensate for the weight of the elf. With his hands bound before him he was helpless.
    Unbalanced and mounted on panicked horses the two found themselves thrown backwards, free-falling off the cliff towards the bottom of Rivendell’s gorge.


    The elf watched from his hiding place, smiling softly to himself. Another one was gone. He was sorry that the warrior had gotten in the way but it had been worth it to kill the human. He had been waiting for just such a chance ever since he had found the man in his camp going through his things. Middle-earth would be better off without the ranger and so would the elves. He had just started to lower his bow when a shout from his right surprised him.
    A fair-haired elf leapt from the cover of the underbrush, very near his own position, and ran to the edge of the cliff where the warrior and the human had gone over. He was calling someone’s name. Hebrilith notched his bow and tracked the elf with it. He had a clear shot at the warrior; he could easily take him out. But something stayed his hand, something in the elf himself as he watched this one and he lowered his bow, crouching down in the undergrowth to see what would come of the situation playing out below him. This was the same elf from the day before. The one who traveled with the man. He would wait to see what transpired.


    Fear shot through every cell in Aragorn’s body. His brain was near panicking, almost to the point of blacking out. Sarcayul had pulled him from his horse and had taken the human with him over the edge of the cliff. The ranger knew it had been Hebrilith that had targeted them, but even this he had not expected.
    He fell several meters before his body impacted a small shelf of rock jutting out from the face of the cliff. Aragorn scrambled to catch hold of anything that would keep him from falling further, but the weight of the elf who still held onto him pulled him off the narrow ledge. Throwing his arms out in front of him in a last ditch effort to stop their descent, his bound hands came down around the root of a tree that had grown out from the side of the rock face. The ropes tightened around his wrists painfully and jerked the human to a stop, wrenching his shoulders horribly as he hung from the bonds, his hands supporting Sarcayul’s weight and his own. The abrupt stop pulled at every muscle in his arms and back and he cried out at the pain that lanced between his shoulders and tightened across his chest.
    His breathing was ragged and choked but his mind was racing, now fully aware since they had stopped. He looked down at the elf dangling below him, holding tightly to his legs.
    "Sarcayul!" He couldn’t quite see the elf’s face so he shifted carefully and glanced down his back catching the warrior’s eyes. "There is a shelf just above my head. Climb up me and you can stand there. You’ll be safe till they can rescue us."
    Even in the face of their impending deaths the elf was defiant and he regarded the human through narrowed eyes.
    "Listen, you don’t have any choice!" Aragorn shouted at the warrior, the pain in his arms increasing by the minute. "Go! What’s wrong with you? Too proud to even save yourself, damn you elves."
    Sarcayul’s expression softened almost imperceptibly and he shook his head. "I cannot feel my fingers. I am losing my grip."
    Aragorn glanced at the arrowshaft protruding from the elf’s shoulder, realization dawning on him. He spoke quietly and calmly. "Sarcayul, listen to me." The elf below him closed his eyes, letting his head rest against the rangers calves. "Sarc!? The arrow was poisoned. You have to move now before it’s too late."
    Slowly the elf raised his head and met the human's eyes. "It is already too late." He could feel the poison in his system like a river of ice, shutting off his body slowly. The toxin reached his heart and he caught his breath, his muscles spasming as his body shut down completely.
    Aragorn watched the elf in horror as the warrior’s eyes rolled back in his head and he released his grip, slowly slipping away, his body falling soundlessly to the bottom of the gorge.
    "NO!" The ranger pressed his face against the rock in front of him, the loss of another immortal life pressing grief upon his heart. "Legolas! Elladan! Elrohir!" He glanced above him shouting for his friend, for his brothers... for anybody. "Legolas!"

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