Siege of Dread

Chapter 14: It’s too Soon for You

by Cassia and Siobhan

First > Previous > Next

Aragorn moved his hand from Legolas’ shoulder and eased his fingers around the small knife concealed in his boot, drawing it slowly.  It wouldn’t do much damage against the warg, but it was all he had.  The glint of steel caused Mrdhdúk to lean in closer, her growl deepening to a warning, stilling the human’s movements.  Aragorn kept his eyes locked onto the beast in front of him.  He wondered that she had not already ripped his head from his shoulders, but the warg seemed to be waiting for something. 

Placing one large paw on Legolas’ chest, the beast effectively pinned both human and elf in place.  Her claw grazed Aragorn’s hand where it lay over Legolas’ heart.  He tried to move his fingers, but the slight motion alerted Mrdhdúk and she barked a warning at the man while applying slightly more pressure.  Most of her attention left the pair as the large warg leaned around the human. 

Mrdhdúk nuzzled Guruth, snuffling his body and whining softly.  Her master was dead, she could smell it; he reeked of death.  Almost gently she licked his face clean once more.  Beside her, the ranger was trying to move again and she snapped her large head back towards him, growling low and deep.  Her orc companion had been slain; in her small mind she rationalized that it had been this creature that sat before her on the ground.  She tensed, not sure if she should run or kill the small being that had provoked her ire.  Unlike many wargs, she had never been free, Guruth had always been her master and she wasn’t entirely sure what to do without him to command her.  She settled on killing them.  The claw that rested on Aragorn’s hand dug into his flesh and he stifled a cry. 

The ranger flinched as the massive head drew nearer.  His fingers tightened around the small boot knife as the warg bent closer to Legolas, nudging the elf with her nose and smelling his scent deeply.  The one that lay in the ranger’s arms smelled like her.  She recognized the elf that Guruth had let her play with.

“Have fun with the young one, so long as you don’t eat him.  I want him alive.”

The words of the dark tongue reverberated in her mind. It hadn’t been that long ago, and she hadn’t forgotten her master’s words just yet.  That changed things.

Aragorn stopped moving and watched the warg curiously.  Something was going on in the creature’s mind.  He realized with a start that the warg wasn’t going to kill them.  Something had happened to stay her, something about Legolas stopped her short of harming them.  The claw that pierced the back of his hand slowly withdrew and Mrdhdúk backed a step away from the human and the elf. 

Glancing back into the battle behind them, the warg watched as the orcs fell to the superiority of the elves.  A large male warg yelped and dropped to the ground, arrows protruding from his back. 

Returning her attention to the ranger who was now shielding the one who had been their toy, her dark eyes watched him intently; he hadn’t dropped the knife he held but he hadn’t hurt her either.  A high-pitched cry behind her drew Mrdhdúk’s attention once more to the battle.  A young warg was under attack.  It was one of her cubs. 

The orcs were dead, her master was gone.  She had no love for orc-kind in general and owed no allegiance to those that still stood in the glade.  She would obey Guruth one last time and spare the elf and his companion, but she had no reason to stay.  Her mind was not too small to register that this was a losing battle.  It was time to retreat.  The forests were full and thick here, her pack could easily lose any pursuers that might try to track them and the woods were full of game; they didn’t need the orcs to survive.  Throwing back her head, Mrdhdúk howled, calling the remaining wargs to her.  Her low, keening cry reverberated through the glade, nearly stopping all fighting as the large, wolf-like creatures disengaged from the battle and pelted up the hill towards their matriarch’s position. 

Aragorn’s face paled as he watched the wargs running towards him.  Pulling Legolas tightly to him, he tried to back up but was stopped as he scooted against Guruth’s dead body.  He had no weapons and the boot knife was useless under the onslaught that raced in their direction.  They were dead. 

Satisfied the wargs were obeying her, Mrdhdúk turned back to the wild-eyed human.  A low, grunting snort in his direction checked his movement once more.  Padding quietly back towards him, the large female warg nudged the elf, pushing Legolas’ head to the side.  She ignored the human’s hand on her large nose, trying to move her away as she licked the blood from Legolas’ face and sealed the deep cut below his chin with her saliva.  Yes, she remembered his taste and growled in satisfaction, a deep, low, throaty sound. 

As the first of the wargs reached them, Mrdhdúk turned, nipping at the heels of the youngster that lunged at the seated human.  Slamming her head into the side of the juvenile she darted off in front of the pack, leading them into the woods and abandoning the orcs to the slaughter they deserved. 

Aragorn watched them disappear, their dark hides blending almost to invisibility within the depths of the woods.  He started slightly when he heard Mrdhdúk’s lone, howling cry bidding her master farewell... and then all trace of them was lost. 

“Aragorn!”  Trelan bolted for the small hill where the ranger sat holding Legolas. “Strider! Are you alright?”  The small elf dropped next to the two friends and looked them over carefully. 

Elladan pelted up the hillock, his bow drawn and trained on the last place he had seen the wargs.  They seemed to have just melted into the woods but he was unsettled by what he had witnessed.  He had been unable to reach Aragorn before the wargs had departed and he feared what he would find when he did.  That his brother and the prince were alive was nearly more of a surprise than he could handle.  Dropping his bow to his side, Elladan stepped back near the ranger and gently rested his hand on Aragorn’s head, his eyes still searching the forest.  They couldn’t risk the wargs' returning. 

“Estel?” Elladan questioned shakily. 

Aragorn gently grasped his brother’s wrist. “Yes, we are well.  Legolas lives, he is merely unconscious.”  Aragorn sighed deeply and glanced up at Elladan. “It did not kill us.”  He was still a little shocked over that turn of events. 

“What did you do?” Trelan asked incredulously. “We watched the whole thing from below but were unable to get to you.  We thought you were both dead for certain!” 

“I did nothing.” Aragorn glanced over his shoulder into the woods before looking back into the pale face of the elf he held in his lap. “There was something about Legolas that kept her from killing us.”  He sucked his breath in sharply as he flexed his hand that the warg had pierced.  The bleeding had stopped and the wound was sealing closed already.  Some of Mrdhdúk’s saliva had dripped onto his gloved hand and seeped through the leather, speeding up the healing process.  He held his hand up and glanced at the clear, sticky substance that coated it. 

“That’s disgusting, Strider.”  Trelan started to wipe the saliva from Legolas but the ranger stopped him. 

“I think it was her way of fixing what had happened.  It seems the wargs’ saliva closes off the wounds.  Look.”  Gently Aragorn tipped Legolas’ head, revealing the nasty cut that grazed his chin.  It had already stopped bleeding. 

The battle below was waning.  The orcs, greatly outnumbered, fell before the elves and after a time silence hung over the glen once more.  The soft sounds of the wounded drifted up to the small knoll where the ranger sat, now surrounded by some of Thranduil’s own guard.  Raniean walked slowly towards them, trailing the King, whose protection he had taken over from Trelan earlier. 

Thranduil looked as bad as Legolas but he would not accept the help of his royal guard, insisting that he needed to see if Legolas were alive.  Raniean, no less anxious, did not argue. 

The prince stirred gently in Aragorn’s arms and the ranger immediately focused all his attention on the elf. 

“Legolas?” the human whispered his friend’s name softly. 

It was quiet and there was a peace that pervaded even the darkness where he lay.  Someone was calling his name, touching his face.  There was more than one voice now.  He recognized Aragorn’s, the last voice he had heard was the first one that filtered through the hazy, warm peace that enveloped him.  Legolas concentrated on his friend’s words, smiling softly as the ranger slipped into the grey tongue. 

“He is gone, Legolas, it worked.  But I need you to come back.”  Aragorn stopped speaking as the elf’s blue eyes opened and locked onto his face.  “The battle is over and we are safe.” 

“Legolas?”  Thranduil’s worried voice cut through the prince’s sluggish thoughts. 


“Yes, Legolas, it is I.”  Thranduil knelt on the grassy floor of the forest and leaned over to gaze at his son.  “You passed out.” 

“Aragorn told me to,” the prince whispered. 

“Oh that’s it. Blame it on me.”  Aragorn laughed softly. 

“Well you did.”  Legolas didn’t move.  He hurt too much.  The past two days had been more than his body could handle and he simply let his friend hold him.  “I smell like a warg.”  He frowned, wrinkling his nose as he touched the now dry saliva that coated his chin and cheek.  “What happened?” 

“You wouldn’t believe it.  I’ll tell you all about it later, but we need to get you and the other wounded back to the rendezvous where Elrohir and Father are waiting for us.  We’ll be able to treat you better there, all of you.”  Aragorn glanced up and pierced the Sinda king with a knowing glare.  If his son were in this kind of shape, then there was no telling what wounds the king was hiding. 

“Yes, my Liege, he is correct.”  Raniean gently hooked his hands under his liege’s arm and helped the king stand stiffly to his feet. “Although I would hear this tale of how you survived that warg.” 

Trelan rose and offered his liege a shoulder to lean upon. 

“Later we all will, I believe,” Elladan countered quickly as he leaned down and helped Raniean relieve Estel of the prince so the human could stand.  “For now though, we need to retreat and regroup and then we will comb the forest to make sure that the threat has been truly dealt with.”  The elven twin was still not settled in his heart and he kept glancing into the woods around them.  They needed to make sure the threat was really gone this time. 

Calling more help up to the top of the knoll, Raniean agreed. 

Trelan walked Thranduil back down the hill, following Elladan as he led the way back to the place where they had left Elrohir and Elrond yesterday evening. 

Raniean and Aragorn trailed the others, supporting Legolas between them.  The royal guard brought up the rear, carefully watching the woods around them as they stepped over the orcs that lay in the glen. 

“I’m sorry we did not come sooner, Legolas,” Raniean whispered quietly in his friend’s ear.  “I thought my heart was going to stop when I saw that orc holding you... and I couldn’t get there.” 

Legolas smiled faintly, squeezing Raniean’s shoulder where he clung to him.  “’s all right Ran.  You came.  Ada’s all right and I’ll mend.  If you hadn’t brought the warriors....” Legolas was interrupted by a small coughing fit before continuing.  “Then Estel would have tried to take them on all by himself, I’m sure, and none of us would have survived.” 

Aragorn grinned, gently supporting Legolas from the other side.  “Thanks for the vote of confidence.” 

Legolas smiled warmly at his friend, making sure Aragorn knew he was joking.  

Raniean smiled as well.  “Well then, I’m glad disaster was averted.” 

The trip back to the secluded meadow near the deep pool took more time than they might have wished since the elves walked only as fast as the wounded could go.  By the time they reached Elrond and Elrohir, Aragorn was carrying Legolas over his shoulder because the prince had passed out again. 

Aragorn headed straight for his father and Elrohir.  The younger of the elven twins jumped up immediately and helped Estel when he recognized him. 

“My cloak, Elrohir.” Aragorn shifted Legolas from his shoulder and held his friend against him. “Get my cloak and lay it on the ground so I may set Legolas down.” 

Quickly Elrohir did as he was told, unfastening the family brooch and laying the brown cloak on the grass as Estel gently set Legolas down upon it. 

“Father, he is hurt badly and I believe the king is in no better shape.”  Aragorn was slightly surprised to see Elrond conscious.  He scooted nearer his father who was tending a small fire.  The older elf’s movements were slow and deliberate.  He had woken not long after Elladan and Aragorn had left the secluded glade.  With Elrohir’s help he had eaten and regained some of his strength.  The world no longer spun around him where he sat and although he ached more than he would allow his family to know, with wounded being brought to him, the healer in him took over and he pushed his own weariness aside. Focusing his attention on the human next to him, Elrond gently took Aragorn’s hand and eased the bloodied glove off. 

“It seems as though they were not the only ones that were injured.”  Elrond turned the ranger’s hand over in his own.  The puncture wound had not gone all the way through.  “You had a run in with wargs?”  Elrond glanced up at his youngest son, still holding the man’s wounded hand, “This is warg saliva.  It has strange healing potential, but I would wonder how it is you came into contact with such.” 

“That, father, is a tale that I will need Legolas’ help to tell...” Aragorn was interrupted by Elladan. 

“We thought they were both dead.  A huge warg attacked them but did not kill them - I do not know why.  It was amazing father,” the eldest twin added.  He glanced between Elrond and his human brother with a quirky smile.  “And speaking of wargs, most of the pack retreated.  We need to set up perimeter and scour the surrounding areas to be sure that we are really safe.  Elrohir will you come with us?  I will need you.”  Elladan and Elrohir rarely fought separated from one another and Elladan had missed his twin keenly in their latest attack on the orcs.  He was loath to leave his brother behind again. 

With merely a nod, Elrohir jumped to his feet.  Leaning back down, the young elf kissed the top of their father’s head and quietly spoke to him, “Ada you are not well yet either.  Do not overwork yourself until you are better. I would not want to lose you so soon.  Please be careful.”  He glanced at his human brother quickly. “Estel, see that he does not injure himself further,” Elrohir begged softly as Thranduil sat stiffly down next to Legolas. 

“I will, but should I not accompany you?” Aragorn started to rise from his seated position.  Elrond’s hand on his thigh stopped him as did his brother’s protests.  It seemed as if everyone spoke at once. 

“No, stay with Father,” Elladan ordered. 

“I will need you here, my son,” Elrond implored softly. 

“We will not leave you alone.”  Raniean stepped forward, pulling Trelan away from the royal families.  As much as he wanted to stay with Legolas and Thranduil until they were well, he knew that Elrond and Estel were the healers; he was a soldier, and his job was to make sure they stayed safe.  The twins were right, reconnaissance was in order.  “Trelan will take half the warriors and set up a perimeter on the outskirts of the glen until we return.  We won’t be long, Trey.”

In moments everything was decided and Raniean’s warriors, accompanied by the twins, took off into the woods.  Aragorn sat back down and smiled wearily at his father who still held his injured hand.  He placed his other hand on Legolas’ chest and began to quietly explain to the two elven lords what had transpired as Elrond cleaned and bandaged his wound first. 

It was the least life-threatening of all their injuries, but Elrond needed Estel’s help and he had worried over the human while he was gone.  The cut to Aragorn’s temple had reopened sometime during battle and Elrond gently re-wrapped the gash with a clean bandage as the human answered Thranduil’s questions. 

“And the warg just... left  It did not try to injure you?” Thranduil pressed.  The tale the ranger told them was highly surprising and if not for the fact that they were both alive, he was not sure he would have believed it coming from a human. 

“Only this.”  Aragorn held up his now bandaged hand. 

“Estel, help me see to the king...” Elrond’s request was interrupted as Thranduil resisted. 

“Please see to Legolas first.  I fear he took more injury than I did.” Thranduil gently brushed his hand through his son’s hair. 

“I meant only to ask Estel to help me see you seated more comfortably while I looked over your son.”  Elrond smiled softly at the other elf.  “I will need full access to him and must unfortunately ask you to move while we work with him.” 

Thranduil glanced down quickly.  Wasn’t he always reprimanding those around him for interrupting his sentences and pre-guessing his intentions? 

“My apologizes, Lord Elrond. I fear I am not quite myself,” he countered quietly as he moved aside with help from Aragorn. 

“I don’t think any of us are,” Elrond concurred quietly. 

The ranger wadded up a discarded cloak and gently pressed the elven king back against the base of a large tree.  He handed Thranduil a mug of warm tea with healing properties that Elrond had been brewing and quietly reassured him before joining his father. 

Elrond was carefully looking over Legolas’ injuries.  They were bad, very bad.  The prince seemed stable for the moment but something about his condition concerned the healer.  He had learned long ago that the outward appearance of a patient could not always tell him what he needed to know.  Elrond leaned closer, placing his hand against Legolas’ forehead, wanting to probe deeper.  But as he started to reach out into Legolas’ body with his senses, a thing that was almost second nature to the elf lord after all these years, Elrond’s vision hazed and it felt as though everything was spinning again.  It seemed even that small expenditure of his strength was taxing for his wounded body.  Elrond was forced to drop both hands to the ground to steady himself lest he lose his balance. 

Sharp, biting pain shot up the elf lord’s side when he lurched suddenly forward and he pulled one arm back quickly to hug his middle, gasping softly as painful pressure jabbed into his lungs.  Squeezing his eyes tightly shut, he concentrated solely on fighting back the nauseating waves of pain.  Elrohir was right; he was in no shape to be up and moving around. 

Aragorn turned back just in time to see his father grimace and pull in on himself, pain flashing across the elf lord’s features 

Hurriedly he scrambled over to his father’s side, wrapping his arms around Elrond’s shoulders in support and alarm when the elf lord  remained hunched over, holding his chest and seeming to struggle for breath for a few moments. 

“Ada!” the ranger said in concern as Elrond slowly straightened up. 

It was obvious the Noldo elf was in pain, but he was unwilling to let his son see how much.  Elrond’s breath was still labored a little when he smiled weakly at his youngest.  “You won’t believe me, but I am all right, Estel.” 

“You’re right as usual,” Aragorn murmured fondly, but with concern.  “I don’t believe you.”  He laid his hand on Elrond’s chest, which seemed to be the new trouble area.  “What is wrong?” 

Elrond didn’t have enough breath to sigh.  It felt like someone was jabbing hot, sharp arrows into his lungs.  He knew very well what was wrong.  “I have some broken ribs. They’re twisted inward and lodged against my lungs.  If I am careful I will be fine, Estel.  With rest they will eventually re-seat themselves and heal correctly.” 

Aragorn was not impressed.  His eyes narrowed with concern.  “And if you’re not careful you could puncture your lungs and die.  Did Elrohir know?  I don’t believe he would have let you move around like this; you’ve got to be still until we can stabilize those ribs.” 

Elrond smiled ruefully.  “Elrohir is not as stubborn as you and some of my children are still willing to accept that their father is wise enough to know his own limits.  I’m all right, Estel; it’s Legolas who needs our attention right now, and swiftly.  He needs help; there is something about his condition that is troubling me.” 

Elrond pulled away from Aragorn’s hands, turning purposefully back towards the unconscious elven prince.  Unfortunately it was not a good move.  Sharp pain stabbed at him again, making his face pale and his vision swim.  This was going to be a real nuisance. 

Aragorn caught his father before Elrond even realized that he was tipping sideways.  “Yes, he does, but not from you, Ada,” the ranger said quietly. 

Elrond frowned in irritation at his own impairment.  “They must be a little deeper than I thought,” he murmured breathlessly as Aragorn eased him back against the bundles of supplies and rolled up cloaks that Elrohir had made for him earlier. 

As soon as he was leaning back and no longer forcing his injured body to support him, the elf lord’s breathing eased greatly and he let out a small sigh of relief.  As much as he hated to admit it, Aragorn was right that he was in no shape to be doing much at the moment. 

“All right, Estel,” he said softly when he met with Aragorn’s worried gaze, silver eyes speaking what he could not.  “Go back to Legolas, I do not like what I am reading from his body; he needs you, my son.” 

Aragorn nodded, glancing back towards where Legolas was beginning to stir uneasily.  “Don’t worry, Ada. I will take care of him.” 

Elrond smiled faintly.  “I know you will.” 

Assuring himself that his father was going to be all right, he made his way quickly back to the prince. 

Legolas was awake now, but seemed a little confused and distressed. 

Lightly, Aragorn touched his friend’s face, letting the elf know he was there.  Legolas pulled a small breath in and turned his head just enough to look the ranger in the eyes.  He smiled at his friend.  Weak though it was, the grin was heartbreakingly bright as Legolas figured out where he was and what must have happened. 

“Well, here we are again, Strider,” Legolas said with faint mirth.  “Right back where we always are.  You’re going to have to fix me up again and I’m going to hate it.  I wonder sometimes if you think of me as a friend or a lifetime patient...” Legolas had to catch his breath as a shiver of pain raced through him, panting for a moment before he could push it to the background once more.  He did not feel at all well.  The pain he felt now was different from fiery ache of the gashes he had sustained and he found it slightly disturbing as a numbing cold slowly began to wrap around his body. 

No matter how many times Aragorn had tended his best friend’s wounds, it was hard for him to see Legolas like this.  The elf prince was extremely pale and very weak.  He looked so incredibly vulnerable.  Aragorn hated it. 

The ranger smiled gently as he began cleaning and wrapping the multiple lacerations that the wargs had left on the prince.  Legolas grimaced and pillowed his head on his arms, closing his eyes against the sting and breathing deeply. 

“You really should stay away from orcs in the future, Legolas. You just do not seem to get along with them at all.  You know, I thought I was supposed to be the clumsy human who always got hurt; what happened to you?” the human teased back with gentle remonstration. 

“Don’t know,” Legolas murmured, his words slurring slightly around his dry mirth.  “Must have been your influence...” The elf’s body was beginning to tremble and he frowned.  He looked at his hand for a moment, a perplexed look written over his fair features.  “Why am I shaking, Estel?” 

Aragorn was a little disturbed by his friend’s slow and confused mental state - it wasn’t like Legolas. 

“You’ve been through a lot, Legolas, your body isn’t happy,” the human tried to keep his voice light.  His mind supplied the more serious explanation; Legolas was in the early stages of shock.  Really it was a miracle it had taken so long to set in, considering how injured he was. 

“Ada?” Legolas’ voice was plaintive as he looked around, searching for his father. 

Thranduil scooted closer, touching the back of his son’s head comfortingly.  “I’m here, Legolas.” 

“Mmmnn,” the prince murmured and blinked, as if his eyelids were heavy.  He winced sharply as Aragorn cleaned his wounds.  The ranger was worried by how foggy his friend’s eyes were becoming.  He moved more quickly, trying to stabilize the prince.  It seemed the more he worked over Legolas the worse the elf was doing.  His mind raced through every conceivable reason and always he heard his father’s quiet warning in the back of his thoughts... 

“ ... there is something about his condition that is troubling me.”

“Ada... where’s Nana?” Legolas asked totally out of the blue.

Thranduil froze, the question itself frightening him.  Legolas hadn’t asked about his mother in millennia.  He knew very well that she had sailed a long time ago.  The elf king shifted closer to his son.  “She... she’s not here right now, Legolas,” he said softly, doubting the younger elf really knew what he was asking at the moment; obviously, Legolas was not quite all the way there. 

Aragorn frowned deeply.  His friend was not doing well at all and nothing he did was helping.  In fact...Aragorn realized with mounting horror that Legolas was actually slipping away more quickly now.  He was getting worse.  It confused him; the elf should be doing better than he was. 

Lifting Legolas’ head and shoulders, Thranduil eased them into his lap while Aragorn continued to clean and dress the prince’s wounds. 

Legolas seemed comforted a bit by this and settled down a little, curling into his father’s lap, still shaking. The physical contact settled his heart even though it did not ease the strange chill that crept through his body. Thranduil looked questioningly at Aragorn as he stroked his son’s hair gently. 

“Shock,” Aragorn mouthed quietly, over Legolas’ head. 

Thranduil’s brows furrowed in concern. 

Legolas sighed as his mind cleared a little.  “Of course she’s not, I’m sorry.  I don’t know what’s wrong with me.  I’m just tired... so tired...” 

Aragorn touched Legolas’ eyelids softly.  “Then rest, mellon-nín, rest.” 

“There you go again, I hope it ends up better than last time...” Legolas’ voice faded and his eyes glazed slightly as he slipped into semi-consciousness. 

Aragorn was glad that the prince would get a small respite from his pain.  Yet Legolas’ slumber, if it could be called that, was light and he still trembled slightly, which did not sit well with the human.  His elven friend’s body was incredibly injured, but it seemed to be doing its best to fight back.  Legolas’ will to live was strong and this was an asset to his healing right now, but what was it that thwarted their combined efforts to get him stabilized? 

“Can you hold him up a little?” Aragorn requested of Thranduil as he gently uncurled Legolas from his father’s lap, attempting to reach the deep, dangerous gashes on his back.  Aragorn winced.  In many places the warg claws had cut Legolas to the bone.  He was not bleeding as badly as might be feared, but he had obviously already lost quite a bit more blood than was good for him. 

Thranduil complied, easing his son into a new position in his grip so that Aragorn had clear access to Legolas’ back.  “You can heal him?” he asked after a moment, his eyes fixed on the Dunèdain who was treating his son.  He did not doubt the human’s worthiness as a being, but he had never seen him in action as a healer before and wasn’t entirely sure the man would be able to do best by his son. 

Aragorn easily heard and just as easily forgave the unmistakable ‘do you know what you’re doing?’ implication hidden within the Elvenking’s words.  He suspected Thranduil would have been more comfortable if Elrond had been able to help, or one of the twins had remained, but did not fault the King for doubting that which he did not know.  Aragorn was well aware how big a step it had been when Legolas’ father accepted him as a suitable friend for his son; for an elf to consider a human a capable healer was quite another step up. 

The ranger nodded reassuringly. 

“Yes.  He is badly hurt, but he is strong.  We will pull him through this,” Aragorn assured.  Yet even as he did he frowned slightly, his hands momentarily stilling against his friend’s clammy skin.  His father was right, something in Legolas felt vaguely... wrong and he could sense it now himself, more urgently than before.  He couldn’t pinpoint what, but it niggled at the back of his mind as he gently  rested his hand against Legolas’ cold cheek.  The elf shouldn’t be cold, not like this. 

Thranduil nodded slowly, trying to make his worried heart accept the assurance that the human offered. 

“You’re sure?” he questioned quietly, gazing down sorrowfully at his son’s battered face. 

Aragorn nodded, touching Thranduil’s shoulder reassuringly. “I promise.  Your son is strong; he will not desert us if he is given any choice.  I have seen him pull through many injuries, with less will to live.”  The ranger eased Legolas’ hair gently away from his cuts as he washed the blood and sticky residue of the warg’s dried phlegm off the elf prince’s back. 

Thranduil nodded once more, then his eyes turned distant as Aragorn’s words brought his dream back to him again.  “Have you ever seen that?” the king inquired softly, the fingers that cupped Legolas’ head to his breast, playing lightly with the younger elf’s loose golden hair.  “Have you ever seen him lose the will to live?” 

Aragorn froze for a moment, a look of grief and hesitancy passing over his features.  He was almost certain that their time in Mordor was not something Legolas would want him to speak to his father about. 

Thranduil did not miss the look, nor the way Aragorn studiously bent his head keeping his focus to cleansing the wounds on the prince’s side and would not look at him directly when he answered. “I have seen Legolas through many things, your Highness. He is one of the bravest, strongest beings I know.” 

Thranduil knew very well that Aragorn was not telling him something, even as Legolas had not, but now was not the time to press for more information, not when Legolas’ condition was so precarious. 

Aragorn turned his full attention back to the wounds he was dressing.  The bandages he had just laid against Legolas’ back were already soaked and dripping.  Something was not right, Legolas should not have been bleeding this heavily, he had not even been bleeding this much before.  The trembling was increasing. 

Thranduil frowned as he saw the same thing. “What is the matter?  It’s getting worse.” 

Aragorn wished he could deny that statement or assure that this was natural, but it wasn’t.  Something was wrong.  What scared him was that he did not know what. 

“I don’t know,” Aragorn murmured distractedly, his hands flying rapidly as he checked his friend’s vitals. 

Legolas’ pulse was racing out of control.  His blood was not clotting.  Fear clutched the human’s heart.  This was all wrong, all wrong! 

“Something is not right.” Aragorn quickly grabbed his pack. “Ada?” He called to his father as he rummaged through the sack, pulling out a small, round tin.  The ranger swore in frustration when he found the contents wet and ruined from his previous underwater adventures.  The powder had to be dry!  He couldn’t even find the other vial he wanted and feared it had been lost somewhere over the course of the last few hectic days. 

“No.” Aragorn denied the helpless feeling that swept over him.  His brothers, one of them had to have brought their packs!  Oh please Valar let them have what he wanted, let them have remembered their father’s constant remonstrations not to leave unprepared... he spotted Elrohir’s pack lying near Elrond and felt a short burst of relief. 

“Aragorn!” Thranduil’s voice was alarmed.  Legolas had begun shaking convulsively in his arms; the prince’s body was sliding swiftly down the slippery slope of trauma-induced shock.  He felt his son’s light dimming before his eyes and fear took hold of him. 

Ignoring Thranduil’s call for the moment, Aragorn snatched up Elrohir’s pack, and hastily dumped the contents on the ground, rifling urgently through them.  His brother kept a different assortment of herbs than he did and Morgoth take it all he had them all crammed into a jumbled mix of unlabeled pouches and bottles that made sense only to him.  Aragorn knew instantly what was what, but had to waste precious moments opening pouches and un-corking vials to see what was inside. 

Elrond was struggling to sit up.  His sensitive perceptions could hear warning signals radiating loudly from Legolas’ body.  “Estel, poison,” he said breathlessly, realizing that must have been what he was sensing to begin with.  He cursed himself for being so weak.  If he had been operating at full power he would have been able to tell immediately.  “Something in his system, he’s reacting to it.” 

Thranduil held the younger elf tightly, his heart pounding furiously. “Legolas?  Legolas...” his voice choked in desperation.  The prince was not responding and his father’s heart was gripped with terror and helplessness at this sudden turn for the worse. 

Aragorn swiveled around, alarmed at his father’s words.  Oh Valar no, Legolas was going into full-fledged shock now. 

“Estel...” Elrond was trying to make himself heard.  “Wargs... sometimes their claws...” 

“Are poisoned, I know, Ada,” Aragorn finished for his father.  He had been worried about that since he first saw Legolas, but thought the prince had somehow escaped the harm that filthy warg claws usually inflicted since his wounds seemed to be closing.  Classic warg injuries were usually very slow healing and bled profusely, resisting clotting.  Yet Legolas had not exhibited any of these signs until now.  What could have changed?  What could have happened?  How could his condition have deteriorated so quickly?  All that had transpired was that he had washed the prince’s wounds and... his heart froze. 

“Oh no.  The coating, the warg saliva, it must have been acting as an artificial clotting agent, countering their natural poison!” Aragorn could have kicked himself, but he hadn’t known; he had never dealt with this before. 

It was a surprise even for Elrond, but the instant Aragorn spoke, it made sense.  The elf lord leaned up urgently on his elbows, trying to ignore the burning fire that ignited in his chest and ribcage.  “Estel, the wounds must be closed, he’s too damaged to lose anymore blood.  Do you have any of the fire-weed in your pack?” 

Aragorn had reached the same conclusion moments before and already had in hand a small vial of red powder and a second of similarly colored oil.  Both were taken from a spicy pepper plant, one of the many herbs cultivated in Elrond’s gardens. 

“No, but fortunately El does.”  He lifted them swiftly, showing Elrond that he already had them before he scrambled quickly back to his friend’s side, his intense fear only just covered with the cloak of his quick thinking and even quicker acting healer’s instincts. 

Elrond tried to follow his son, forcing his dizzy, protesting body to move.  Aragorn shot the elder elf a quick, warning look that he would never have dared use on his father under normal circumstances. 

Daro, Ada,” he shook his head urgently.  “Stay.  I cannot care for both of you.”  Aragorn was afraid that Elrond would shift the broken ribs pressing on his lungs again.  Elrond understood the justified fear and stilled his movements, gathering his strength. 

The change Aragorn found when he returned to his friend’s side was drastic and terrifying.  Legolas’ eyes were closed and he was slipping away.  Thranduil was trying to cling to his son’s essence, but the prince was fading too fast.  It was proving beyond the King’s ability or strength to hold onto him, no matter how deeply into the abyss he waded in an effort to do so.  Legolas’ wounds were not deadly in and of themselves, and that was the deceptive problem.  It was not the injuries that were trying to kill him; it was the subtle toxins that made his heart race; it was the already serious loss of blood that was being added to by the moment; it was the deadly shock that had already enveloped his body, disrupting all his vital functions. 

Thranduil’s eyes met Aragorn’s for only a moment.   It frightened the elven king to feel Legolas’ presence fading away from him like this.  It seemed so sudden, so uncalled for, so... terrifying and there didn’t seem to be anything he could do to stop it or help.  “Don’t let him die!” he shook his head, his tone part command and part desperate plea.  “Don’t let him die!”  

//You promised...// Thranduil’s eyes accused with anguish.  //You promised me... don’t you dare let him die.// 

The look smote straight into Aragorn’s heart.  He would do anything to keep Legolas with them, anything. 

Uncorking the vial with his teeth, the ranger opened Legolas’ mouth gently and placed a few drops of the oil under his friend’s tongue.  They had to try to pull him out of the deadly slide into shock. 

The effect was not immediate, but after a few moments Legolas’ eyes started to clear a little and the convulsions eased as the potent herb helped drag the elf’s body out of the traumatized state it had been sinking into.  Unfortunately, the ranger knew it was a momentary reprieve only.  The part of Aragorn’s mind that had been trained as a healer told him that his friend was in a bad way.  Told him that his friend would very probably not survive.  The part of Aragorn’s mind that had been through too much with this particular elf to accept that diagnosis resisted it utterly, clinging to the hope that was his namesake. 

Working swiftly, the human feverishly tried to push from his thoughts the horrible, creeping knowledge that every other time he had seen anyone this far gone, whether on the plains of Gondor or right here near his own home, they had always died. 


This was different.  Aragorn focused on his task, blocking everything else from his mind.  He did not even feel when Elrond leaned gently against him, trying to see over his son’s shoulder.  This had to be different.  He and Legolas had cheated death so many times... he could not believe this was meant to be the end now.  He could not lose his friend like this, not to something so absurdly simple after all the harrowing things they had survived. 

Legolas’ movement had stilled, his body too spent to even tremble.  His eyes fluttered open as he was dragged painfully back to consciousness by Aragorn’s ministrations.  He saw the two worried faces bending intently over him. 

“Estel... Ada...” he wanted to speak.  Wanted to say something that could take the pain out of both their eyes as he felt himself slipping towards eternal starlight, but he could not find the words. 

“Shh, don’t speak, Legolas, save your strength, ion-nín,” Thranduil soothed him, cupping the fading young elf’s cheek gently in his palm. 

Legolas smiled up at his father softly.  He had no strength left to save, but he wanted his father to know he wasn’t afraid.  He was at peace.  Having walked with mortals, he had decided that death was not something to be feared, even for an elf. 

Opening the vial of powder, Aragorn pulled away the ineffective and blood-soaked bandages he had only recently placed.  He spread the dark, red dust over the worst of the prince’s bleeding cuts.  To the ranger’s relief the blood began clotting almost immediately and he swiftly followed up by re-binding the wounds as quickly as he could with fresh cloths salvaged from his older brother’s pack. 

The bleeding was stopped almost as quickly as it had re-started, but the elf’s body was weak, too weak.  The warg poison, even if held in check outwardly by Mrdhdúk’s primitive care, had been silently working its way inward and wreaking havoc on the prince’s internal systems.  His heart was traumatized and beating erratically.  His vital functions were shutting down. 

Pain creased Legolas’ features as the fiery herb stung his wounds like a cauterizing brand.  He moaned through his teeth, turning his face into his father’s tunic so he would not disgrace himself in front of them by letting them see his tears. 

Aragorn’s cool, gentle hands squeezed his shoulders, his heart hurting so much he felt ill. “I’m sorry, Legolas, I’m so sorry my friend. I have to stop the bleeding as quickly as possible.  The sting will fade, I promise.  Forgive me, mellon-nín.”  He felt this was all his fault.  As a healer he should have thought, should have realized what washing the wounds might do!  In reality, however, it would not have mattered.  The infectious toxins had already been at work before the father and son had even been rescued; it had only been a matter of time.  And that was something they had never had.

Legolas could hear in the ranger’s voice that he was also crying.  The elf slowly turned his face outward once more and gave his friend a weak smile, masking the pain he was still feeling with a portion of his usual façade of strength.  Reaching out, he squeezed Aragorn’s hand.  The human had been a good friend.  His best friend. 

Over Aragorn’s shoulder, Legolas saw Elrond’s bruised face appear.  The elven lord knelt gingerly next to his human son, one hand resting on Estel’s arm for support as he reached out to Legolas, brushing the prince’s hair back from his face and assessing his injuries, although even those small exertions seemed to drain him.  He had ultimate faith in Aragorn’s healing abilities and skills, but Legolas’ condition was obviously spiraling out of control.  He did not know if he could help or not, but he would not simply remain where he was and let Estel struggle alone to save his best friend’s life.  He had to see if he could help Legolas.  For the prince’s sake, and for his son’s. 

When Elrond touched the prince his heart despaired at what he felt.  His eyes locked with Legolas’ for a moment and realization passed between them. Legolas knew he was dying, and now so did Elrond. 

The future flashed before the elven lord as it sometimes did, mapping its possible trails across his sensitive psyche. 

Elrond saw Legolas carried home to Mirkwood on a bower of pine boughs.  The prince’s skin was pale and his eyes closed... closed forever on this side of the sundering seas. 

He saw Aragorn walking slowly beside the sad procession with heavy steps.  His son’s eyes were red from sleepless nights of tears and he refused to release his friend’s hand even in death as he saw the elf prince on his last journey.  Elladan and Elrohir trailed behind their brother, looking worriedly from one to another.  A light had been extinguished from the ranger’s eyes and Elrond shuddered at the empty void that was swallowing up the bright spark that had been Estel.  In this vision however, Estel was no more; for the human had let hope die with his friend... his brother whom he had been unable to save. 

Thranduil walked at the head of the procession, his lost, tearless eyes even emptier than Aragorn’s.  There was loss, remorse and resentment there where light and life had once lived.  Thranduil blamed himself for Legolas’ death... and he blamed Aragorn too.  It was unjustified, but grief knows no reason.  The ranger accepted the mantle of guilt far too readily, adding Thranduil’s silent condemnation to his own.  The weight had obviously crushed the young man’s spirit. 

Elrond saw the Elvenking at home in Mirkwood.  He saw him fading.  He saw Thranduil’s grief overcome him completely and now it was the King who was borne on a sad, funeral litter to be laid to rest beside his son.  Without their Sindar rulers, Mirkwood fell into darkness, the groping shadow of Dol Guldur spreading upward like a stain to extinguish the light of the elven realm. 

Elrond saw Raniean and Trelan fall side by side in battle before the last defenses crumbled.  He saw Aragorn standing in the middle of a burned and devastated wood, surrounded by bodies... a lone survivor, or come too late, the elf lord could not tell. 

All sound was sucked away as if in a vacuum and Elrond saw Aragorn fall to his knees in gut-wrenching despair, his spirit devoured by the loss of not even being able to save his dear friend’s people.  A dark shape appeared behind Aragorn, but the human was too lost in grief to notice.  Elrond’s body stiffened as the orc struck quickly.  Suddenly Aragorn was looking down in shock at the blade protruding from his chest.  The ranger’s glazing eyes looked up, locking with the elf lord’s gaze and Elrond almost felt his heart stop beating, the vision was so clear, so real. 

Then suddenly, with a flash and a start it was gone, and Elrond found himself looking not into Aragorn’s face, but into Legolas’ silver-blue eyes... eyes that were glazing and fading before him just as surely as the ones in his vision.  It had all passed before him in the breadth of an instant and yet he had seen the years fall away into chaos and darkness.  The path ahead of them that they now trod was dark indeed and the chances of changing the foreseeable future were waning before his very eyes. 

Aragorn glanced between Elrond and Legolas in concern.  He was worried about his father, but Elrond seemed to be coping for the moment, he was more concerned with what he saw in the elder elf’s eyes when he looked at Legolas.  Elrond had stiffened and gone still.  The momentary glassy-eyed look was a familiar one to the human and he realized with breathless anxiety that his father was caught in a vision.  He feared what the older elf had seen. 

Legolas already knew what was happening to him, before he saw the undeniable truth of it flicker across Elrond’s face.  He had been too close to death too many times to not know its familiar taste. 

“Ada?” Aragorn hardly dared to breathe the word. 

Elrond turned tortured, pain-filled eyes on his youngest son.  He wanted to lie, wanted to deny what his healer’s instincts had already told him.  Faced with Aragorn’s deep, searching gaze, however, he could tell nothing but the truth, no matter how hard it was to do so. 

“He’s dying, Estel,” the elf lord murmured in regretful disbelief around the huge lump in his throat.  Elrond knew the possible futures he saw were not always certain, but his heart told him that if the prince died, all he had seen would indeed come to pass in one way or another.  So much would be lost.  It was hard to comprehend. 

Aragorn shook his head, unable to speak.  He would not, could not accept that.  He had never known his father to be wrong, but he had to be in this case, he HAD to be! 

Thranduil’s reaction was equally vehement, if much more vocal.  “No, he is not!  How dare you say that!” he raged hotly around the painful tears clouding his sight and choking his voice.  He held Legolas tighter, clinging to his only child and burying his face in the prince’s hair.  “He is not!  You are healers, do something!” 

Legolas fumbled to catch his hand in a fistful of his father’s tunic.  “Ada...” he murmured.  He didn’t want his father angry, didn’t want him to blame Elrond or Aragorn for being the bearers of bad news they could not change. 

“Legolas...” Thranduil shook his head, caressing his son tenderly.  He could feel the boy fading in his arms, it was horrible.  “Don’t go.  Do not leave me like everyone else.  Please, my child...” his gaze came up to rest on Aragorn and Elrond once more.  The anger was gone and now it was openly pleading, something Aragorn had never seen before in the strong, proud Elvenking’s eyes. 

“Don’t let this happen,” Thranduil pleaded for them to fix the unfixable, no matter how desperately unreasonable the request.  He was offering Legolas all he had; he would give his life if it would save his son’s, but he was helpless to stop what was happening.  “Don’t let him die... please, you are healers, you can do what I cannot... please...” Thranduil let his head fall forward to rest against Legolas’ breast, his voice cracking as his heart broke. 

Aragorn couldn’t breathe around the pressure in his chest.  He was trying everything he knew to do, every cure he had ever learned to give strength, every measure of support he could offer... but the deep-seated knowledge that it would never be enough had taken hold of him and the whole scene had become increasingly surrealistic.  He would do anything to grant Thranduil’s request, but as he watched Legolas’ eyes flutter closed he knew he was just as helpless as the king. 

“I-I am trying, I don’t know what else to do... I’m sorry.  Forgive me, forgive me!  Legolas...” Aragorn could hardly speak as he gripped his friend’s hands, willing him to live, to be stronger than this, to fight through as he had so many times before. 

Legolas shook his head, forcing his eyes open with effort.  “Please...” he croaked quietly.  “Please don’t... shhh... Ada... Estel...” he didn’t know what to say.  He couldn’t think; he couldn’t form words.  Imploringly he turned his gaze to Elrond.  Legolas’ ability to speak had left him, but his eyes caught the elf lord’s and Elrond read his last thoughts as clear as day:  //“Don’t let this destroy them.  Don’t let them blame themselves because I must leave.  I’m sorry.”// 

Elrond blinked back tears, stunned by the simple, but obviously unlimited faith the younger elf had in him.  //“I won’t, Legolas, I promise!”// the elder elf responded without heed to how impossible was the promise he had just made.  Elrond kept his vows, and he would keep this one if he had to die trying.

Legolas relaxed at the assurance.  He knew that he left his father and his friend in good hands.  He sighed softly, letting the air out of his lungs... and did not breathe in again. 

Thranduil felt his son stop moving in his arms.  Pressing his hand to Legolas’ heart, he felt no movement, no breath passing between the still lips. 

The prince was dead.  Legolas was gone.

Still choking from knowing the love you've given me
It's hard to believe what I see is no dream
I'm drinking and sinking, still it's haunting me

Not yet, not yet break me from these visions
Not yet, not yet it's too soon for you...

--Die Trying

First > Previous > Next