The Stars of Harad

Chapter 11

by Cassia and Siobhan

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The sun was midway through its circle in the sky. Hot, light breezes swept the low pasturelands, barely stirring the sturdy long wisps of grass that grew thickly over the low undulating hills, lining the fields where the oliphaunts walked idly back from their watering hole.

Bright inquisitive eyes watched their slow progress. Short pointed ears perked up, swiveling to catch the edges of conversations and the hyper-sensitive olfactory senses of the animal that crawled, hidden, in the long grasses smelled what it had been looking for – what it had been denied for so long.

The large creature was incredibly quiet for its great mass and incredibly intelligent. A fierce evilness clung to it. It had escaped from the compound just south of the mûmaskil’ favorite waterhole. It had waited until the creature that walked on two legs had opened its cage. It had waited and pretended to be sleeping. What they fed it, it was tired of, but the creature that brought its food had tasted good. That is before the others stopped him. But they hadn’t stopped him quickly enough, he had gotten a taste of human blood and he was craving more. Inbred in his twisted being was an insatiable desire for manflesh. He hated them. They tormented him. They never left him alone. Always poking, prodding. Everything they touched him with hurt. He hated them; it was good to be out. The grass brushed gently underneath his belly and the light winds fingered through the hair that covered his body. Yes it agreed with itself, this was good. It would never go back.

The animal looked nothing like the native taergs that populated the low lands. It was an entirely new creature and it was never intended that it should escape. This beast was the only successful creation of the crossbreeding between the wargs and the taergs that Seobryn had produced. The fact that it had escaped enraged him and he quickly sent his men out to recapture the animal. If large cat hadn’t killed its incompetent handler, Seobryn would have. He kicked the lock on the now empty cage and stalked after his men that had gone in search of the escapee. In all likelihood he feared they would never be able to recapture the creature. It had been bred to be silent, quick, powerful and intelligent, a killer...and unfortunately they had succeeded. If he could not take the creature back to Saruman as living proof that the crossbreeding was successful he was not sure that the white wizard would allow him to leave alive.


Legolas slowly walked the perimeter of the oliphaunt field, matching his gait to that of the Olybryn as they escorted the herds home for the evening. The routine had become very familiar by now as the days had slowly worn away into weeks and months. Legolas couldn’t help watching the young northerner in the midst of the Haradrim. He listened intently to their conversations, his sharp hearing hoping to catch some sense that the ranger’s memory was returning. He was pleased to see that Aragorn had joined the slaves, even though he limped slightly from the healing wound that Talft had dealt him the previous day.

Once or twice, Aragorn’s eyes even sought the elf out, although if he found that Legolas was looking at him he would quickly look away. It was a start anyway, and better than being totally avoided by his friend as had been going on for the past several fortnights since Legolas had taken this job.

Although the elf was concentrating on his friend, his awareness of their surroundings had not diminished and he stopped and turned quickly when he sensed something watching him.

Standing perfectly still the elf’s sharp eyes tracked the low hills. He listened to the stillness that surrounded him, only the sounds of the grasses weaving back and forth in response to the light breeze touched his hearing. But he was sure there was something out there.

A patch of grass moved oddly to his right and he focused on it, slowly bringing his bow up and notching an arrow against the taut string.

The altered taerg watched the elf intently. This being smelled wrong. It did not smell like the ones he was used to and something about it bothered the predator...even in the bright sunlight, the evil creature could see the light that encompassed Legolas and it hissed softly as it watched him.

The soft growling and hissing was not lost on the elf and he began to walk towards the small hillock where he had seen the odd movements. He made sure to keep himself between the Olybryn and whatever it was that was stalking them.

Cabed glanced up as Legolas walked slowly back on the trail they were using. He watched as the sharpshooter sighted in on something he could not see. Fearing that the taergs had returned he quietly began moving among his people, hurrying them towards the safety of the main house and away from what hunted them.

Aragorn turned and watched as the sharpshooter strung his bow and walked away from them. Something inside of him wanted to run after his master’s employee and give his aid. He faltered in his steps, considering the odd emotions he was feeling until Sircyn grabbed his arm and steered him back onto the path and away from the danger.

"I should..." The words died on Aragorn’s lips as he glanced at Sircyn.

"You should stay with the herd if you wish to keep your head." Sircyn finished his sentence for him, smiling. He nodded his head back towards where the elf stood, "He was hired to do that; you were not."

"Yes, you’re right." But still... Aragorn glanced back watching the lone figure; it felt wrong.

The two-legged creature was blocking its goal. The taerg that was no longer a taerg watched in agitation as the others walked away with the large gray animals. He was hungry, he hadn’t eaten. He didn’t want this one that stood in front of him, this one was wrong; it glowed. He wanted the others; they were easy to kill. The ones with the long sticks that had fired the biting things, they had not been as easy to kill and this one that blocked him held a long stick as well.

Legolas slowly headed towards the hillock, his every sense locked onto the place where the grass had moved oddly. What he saw when he came in sight of the large predator shocked him. This was no taerg as he had expected. He had become familiar with them in the past weeks as he had guarded the Olybryn. This thing that crouched low in the grass was something he had never seen. Bright intelligent eyes watched him carefully, but it was the evil malevolence that they held that bothered the elf. A thick shock of long hair crested its shoulders and fell down its back like a mane. Where a taerg had a long whip-like tail, this thing had a shorter, stunted tail that was covered in dark hair. It was difficult to see just what the animal’s body looked like as it crouched low in the grass.

Tensing the shaft of the arrow against his bowstring, Legolas widened his stance. It mattered not what type of creature he beheld, the animal’s intent was obvious, it would stalk and kill either the oliphaunts, or worse, the Olybryn and Legolas could not allow that.

With the smallest of movements the elf released the projectile, the arrow tip sighted in on the creature’s right eye. Whether the beast sensed his motion or just jerked to the left he would never know, but the elf’s arrow fell short of its target as the creature leapt out of the path of the weapon.

Never had he seen anything move quite so swiftly as the altered taerg did. The animal jumped to its left, avoiding his arrow and placing it closer to the elf, in Legolas’ full view. The creature was twice the size of a normal taerg. Its massive head was wider and broader than any of the predators he had seen. The rake of the creature’s body reminded the elf of a warg as it sat hunched on huge powerful back legs ready to spring. Mottled hair covered its haunches and its shoulders. Its long forelegs ended in wide paws that more resembled... Legolas was taken back momentarily as he realized that the animal before him resembled a warg in many ways.

The top incisors of the beasts teeth jutted down from under its upper lips and curved over the edges of it lower jaw. When it hissed at the elf, opening its wide mouth Legolas could see the rows of sharp teeth.

Of all the taergs the elf had encountered none had felt evil; they were simply killing to eat, it was survival. This creature that stood in front of him however, hated him and he could feel the loathing the animal held for him. This beast was intelligent and it was thinking, not just responding, to his presence. ‘Like a warg’, Legolas’ mind was screaming at him. He had to admit there was an uncanny resemblance both to the wargs that he knew and the taergs he had encountered in this creature.

The animal jumped at him, snapping its huge jaws, testing the elf’s reflexes as the nimble being leapt aside. So this one would be harder to kill, the altered taerg surmised, snarling fiercely. It wanted the challenge. Its desire to simply satisfy its hunger had been overridden by the deep yearning to kill for sport that had been bred into it, a trait it shared with the wargs.

Legolas released a second volley of arrows as the creature rushed him. Ducking its head at the last possible moment, the crossbreed avoided the projectiles as they shot by his ear, imbedding themselves in the thick skin of his shoulder.

The small sticks that flew bit into his skin but barely penetrated. The bites that they left on his tough hide irritated him and he flattened his ears in a fierce snarl, ready to end this fight.

Cabed had sent Sircyn ahead to call for help for the sharpshooter they had left behind and Legolas could hear Talft and Lur running through the field behind him, calling out to him.

On the far side of the hillock Seobryn’s men heard the disturbance and quickly altered their course, heading towards the shouting, hoping to catch the newly bred creature and reclaim it before it could get away or be discovered.

The cat-like predator leapt at the elf and Legolas dropped to the ground on his knee. Quickly freeing one of his long elven knives, he thrust the blade into the animal’s chest as it passed over his head; the weapon stuck fast in the thick hide caught between the animal’s ribs.

Piercing pain ripped through the beast’s awareness and it dropped to the ground heavily, panting. Its eyes narrowed as it stalked in a circle around the elf that had once again taken up his bow, notching two arrows onto the thin string.

Talft and Lur skidded to a halt a few feet behind Legolas, staring at the animal that the elf was fighting. The creature, distracted for a second by the threat of the two new men, roared in frustration, glaring at the Haradrim and shifting around Legolas to get a better a look at them.

The distraction, a second at the most, was all that Legolas required. He tracked the beast’s movements and when the animal's gaze moved from him he released his weapon. One arrow pierced the creature through the roof of its mouth as it roared in anger, the other found its mark in the taerg’s known weak spot, its eye.

The predator dropped to the ground soundlessly. Legolas approached the strange animal, another arrow already fitted and ready if he needed it. He kicked the dead carcass and waited. This...taerg or whatever it was, had been very smart; he was taking no chances.

Seobryn had watched as his crossbred creation was shot and he glared in anger as Legolas mounted the small hillock. The hunter, still a ways away from where the altered taerg had fallen, stopped running and allowed his men to crest the hill before him. He sighed in frustration. Tyndel couldn’t be faulted, the animal had escaped and probably gone after the Olybryn. He should have known. Shaking his head in anger and disgust, he walked slowly up next to Tyndel and looked down at the dead animal. All that work and for what? What would Saruman do now? This had been the only successfully crossbred creature they had; everything else had failed even their repeated attempts to duplicate the exact circumstances surrounding this one's success.

He kicked the animal in contempt.

Talft and Lur edged closer, glancing between Seobryn and the dead animal.

"What is that?" Legolas asked breathlessly. The animal had been harder to kill than a taerg and that was saying a lot.

"It’s a taerg." Talft answered quickly, too quickly.

Seobryn shot the guard a withering glance. He knew Tyndel would never fall for that, but now there was no choice but to play along.

The sharpshooter glanced up at the trader. "That thing is a taerg?" He asked, demanding another opinion.

"Yep." Seobryn knelt next to the creature and pulled the elf’s arrows from its body, handing them back to Tyndel as he stood up.

"I have never seen a taerg like this, Seobryn." The elf accepted the arrows and bent down to retrieve his blade from the animal’s chest, wiping the blood off on the long grass before resheathing it.

"Tyndel," With a nod in the elf’s direction, the old trader’s gaze flicked up quickly and locked with Legolas’ before dropping back to the dead body. "You haven’t lived down here that long. There’s lots you ain’t seen, boy."

Legolas bristled at the curt response but the glare the trader laid on him told him he had stumbled onto more than he realized.

"When did you return south?" Legolas asked more calmly. "I don’t remember seeing you come through."

"We passed east of Rhuddryn’s. Had some business out that way to take care of. We’re camping to the south of here. Hunting’s good this time of year." Seobryn answered casually. His eyes narrowed and his tone darkened as he continued. "Besides I don’t have to check in with Rhuddryn; he doesn’t own me."

Talft pushed his way forward, trying to forestall the tension that was building. "Don’t worry about this, Mister Seobryn, we’ll bury the carcass. No harm came, the herds are safe."

Seobryn brushed the man roughly aside, pushing the Haradrim away from the beast’s carcass. "My men will handle it. Go keep to the herds. Where there is one taerg there may be others. It wouldn’t do to have Rhuddryn’s oliphaunts attacked over something like this, now would it?" He pierced the guard with a steady glare.

Eager to be away, Lur gently grabbed Legolas’ elbow and drew the reluctant sharpshooter with them, nodding his head in agreement. "Good idea, we’ll be going now."

Talft jerked away from his friend and headed out towards the main house. Legolas allowed the Haradrim to lead him away but he gave the dead animal one last glance before he turned to leave. Something wasn’t right. Seobryn was highly irritated and there was more to that animal than met the eye. It was no taerg, Legolas was sure of that. They were lying, all of them. He had felt the taergs before, they were not evil nor did they think like this one had. This animal reminded him of the wargs that the orcs rode, terrorizing the low lands in the Riddermark of Rohan: intelligent, evil and bred for one purpose, killing. They did it well and they enjoyed it. This creature had enjoyed the challenge of hunting him. Legolas wasn’t completely sure he could have killed it, if Talft and Lur hadn’t distracted it.

He followed the Haradrim guards quietly back to the oliphaunt fields, his mind racing through the thoughts and questions that dogged him. Neither Talft nor Lur had been surprised to see Seobryn. But both of them had been terrified by the creature; they hadn’t drawn their weapons against it even before he had killed it. What stopped them? He had never seen them react that way with a taerg before.

It was obvious that Rhuddryn and Seobryn’s dealings were not purely that of a trader and a purchaser as they wished everyone to think; there was much more to this and he had no doubt that whatever it was Aragorn had found out was the reason behind the state he was in. He was sure that this had to do with that crossbreeding that he had overheard Seobryn and Chadoc talking about when they thought he wasn’t listening, speaking low at night over the fire when they had assumed that everyone was asleep. He hadn’t liked what he heard then; he liked it even less now. At the time he had thought they spoke in theory, or with as much truth as the other fanciful tales that they often concocted for one another, but now he wondered. He remembered how Seobryn had talked to him about the various traits of wargs and taergs as if comparing their strengths and weaknesses... suddenly this all seemed to be making sense... however, there were many pieces still missing.

He needed more information. Deciding he had nothing to lose he tried to engage Talft and Lur in conversation as they reached the fenced off area of the oliphaunt fields and headed for the gate, keeping a wide berth from the herd and their keepers.

"Have you ever seen a taerg like that before?" Legolas asked the two guards, his tone light and conversational.

Talft glanced back at the elf but did not speak. Lur would not meet his steady gaze.

"I see," he quietly answered himself.

"It is best not to ask, Tyndel. You are a marksman, you protect the herds. That is what you did. Leave it at that." Talft stalked off, shoving the gate open hard so that it banged shut behind him loudly. Lur stood undecided for a moment glancing between his friend and the elf. With a shake of his head, the tall dark-skinned guard shrugged his shoulders and followed Talft back to report to Rhuddryn. He dreaded telling their employer; this would not go well. 


Legolas stood outside Rhuddryn’s palatial house, the shadows of the large bola trees masking his hiding place. His experience with the mutated taerg today had left him with more questions than answers. The creature barely resembled one of the wild felines that constantly harassed the slaves, but Talft and Lur were adamant that is was nothing more than a taerg. The elf was nearly certain that Seobryn must be involved in some kind of crossbreeding endeavor involving wargs and taergs, and that that was the mystery that had been hanging over this whole affair from the start.

Rhuddryn had to be a part of it somehow, perhaps providing the money and land to support Seobryn’s labor and dealing. Rhuddryn was an oliphaunt breeder after all; he would have the knowledge and resources needed. Wherever this was happening, it had to be close, possibly somewhere on Rhuddryn’s property... maybe the little-frequented southern hills? Legolas had never had cause to be out that way. But if so... why? Why would anyone create a beast whose sole purpose was to be a killing machine? It was a frightening thought and portended a greater underlying evil going on here than was yet understood. Legolas needed more information and the guards gave the sharpshooter a wide berth, hesitant to talk with the northerner. He would have to find what he sought by other methods.

Tonight was the perfect cover for Legolas to enter Rhuddryn’s home and look for more proof either of the man’s innocence or guilt and, hopefully, who else was involved. Rhuddryn was entertaining guests this evening and his home was filled with an assortment of people: the dark-skinned far Haradrim, the lighter, turbaned Near Haradrim and even a few Northerners. The guards were lax as visitors entered the home and walked the softly lit gardens that surrounded it. They had been told to be present but stay out of the way. Legolas stepped in quickly with a large group of guests who were animatedly talking amongst themselves, falling easily in step with the group as they entered the house. Once inside he slipped quietly away walking down a deserted hallway and seeking out Rhuddryn’s private study. From watching the man, he knew that Rhuddryn spent his mornings on the south side of the house where he could overlook the oliphaunt fields. It was there that Legolas headed first.

A cluster of visitors rounded a corner in the long hallway laughing and talking amongst themselves. Unable to hide or conceal himself the elf straightened his shoulders and walked past, inclining his head to the small group as they called out greetings to him, mistaking him for another of Rhuddryn’s acquaintances.

He tested a door to his left, finding it open he stepped quickly inside out of sight and breathed a sigh of relief; that had been close. He could not afford to be caught.

Looking around the darkened room the elf spied a sliding door set in the far wall. Soundlessly he walked across the polished wood floor and pressed his ear against the entry, listening for anyone on the other side. Fingering the handle hesitantly Legolas slid the door open enough to squeeze through into the adjacent room, closing the panel behind him with a quiet click. It was easy for him to see in the darkened room that he had found Rhuddryn’s study. A large desk sat against the far wall; papers spilled haphazardly across its top. Maps were pinned behind the desk next to an extensive array of books set in shelves that wrapped two-thirds of the room.

The elf stepped around the desk and carefully shuffled through the letters and paperwork that Rhuddryn had abandoned there earlier. He stopped as his fingers lighted on a yellowed, tattered letter. The broken seal was red with an odd scrolling emblem on it, and Legolas could have sworn it was the letter he had gotten a glimpse of in Seobryn’s pocket once on their way down here. The trader had deflected any questions about it and hidden it quickly, but Legolas was almost positive it was one and the same.

Brushing the other papers aside the elf quickly scanned the contents of the letter. As he read a frown deepened on his face and a chill crept into his heart. It was as he feared. But the last paragraph more than any other filled him with grave dread. It read:

"I had expected your work to be farther along than it apparently is and am disappointed with your progress so far. It is necessary that my new army of half-breeds be ready, for time is running short and I have great need for them. It is not wise to fail me."

The letter was unsigned much to Legolas’ dismay. He had hoped to find out who was behind the crossbreeding. Whomever it was had gotten impatient and the implied threat would make the breeders more careless as the pressure to create this new strain of wargs increased.

Voices in the hallway interrupted Legolas’ thoughts and he chided himself for not paying better attention. Quickly he stepped back around the desk and headed for the sliding wall, intending to make an escape as the sounds of footsteps stopped on the threshold of the room he was in.

"It’s just in here if you would but excuse for a moment I am sure I can find you a copy of it." Rhuddryn’s voice could be heard clearly as he opened the door to his study and stepped into the darkened room. He turned to light the glow globe on the stand next to the door when his eyes caught movement to his left and he saw a shadowed form slip through to the adjoining room.

"Stop! Guards!" Rhuddryn jumped back into the hallway and called down the passage running towards the second room.

Inside the adjoining room Legolas realized he was trapped. There was no way out except the door he had entered through or the sliding wall panel. Assuming the guards would converge on the room he was in he raced back to the sliding door and threw it open, sprinting through the now empty, but lit study.

The elf skidded into the hallway and caught sight of Rhuddryn entering the adjoining room with a contingent of guards. Without waiting to see if his escape route had been discovered he raced up the hallway in the opposite direction heading for the veranda and hoping to escape the house that way. Perhaps Rhuddryn hadn’t gotten a good look at him in the dark. Tearing around the last corner he let himself into the small serving room that butted up against the large patio and nearly ran into Talft who was just entering the house in response to Rhuddryn’s frantic calls for reinforcements.

Legolas was out of time. He could hear the guards in the hall behind him heading his way, calling for reinforcements. He stood staring at the guard for a half a second, undecided, before he rushed the large Haradrim and punched the man in the stomach, throwing his weight against the guard and shoving him out of the way. The doorway behind them filled with more of Rhuddryn’s men and Legolas leapt towards the veranda entry only to be stopped as Lur loomed in the small service door.

The fierce warrior drew his sword and thrust it at the intruder, blocking the elf’s escape route. Unwilling to be caught by these men, Legolas side-stepped the sweeping arc of the Haradrim blade and caught Lur under his chin in a forceful blow knocking the guard back out of his way.

Talft had recovered from the elf’s attack and watched as he deftly took out Lur. Legolas turned to escape as the Haradrim brought his fists down between the elf's shoulder blades slamming the sharpshooter down to the floor. The driving blow caught Legolas unprepared and he fell beneath Talft’s weight, his breath driven from him. Five or six more guards reached them, raining punches, kicks and blows in a merciless effort to restrain their captive.

Legolas struggled with Lur and Talft as they and the others held him down, pinning his arms behind his back, but he couldn’t pull free. The remainder of the guard host finally caught up with them and Legolas was trapped.

Drug roughly to his feet the elf was escorted back down the hall to Rhuddryn’s study.

Rhuddryn paced back and forth in front of his desk, highly irritated that his well planned evening had been disrupted so. His dark thoughts were interrupted as Talft and Lur shoved the door open and dragged in the intruder. The northerner stopped his pacing and stared in silent disbelief as Tyndel was dragged across the large room and presented to him, his arms bound tightly behind his back.


"We caught him trying to escape out the service room near the veranda. He almost got away." Lur explained when his employer graced the guards with a questioning glance. The Haradrim cuffed the back of his prisoner’s head forcing Legolas’ eyes down.

Rhuddryn’s voice was icy when he spoke again. "You were the one in my study this evening weren’t you?"

Legolas kept his gaze low, his lips forming a thin hard line across his face.

"Speak up when you are spoken to." Talft growled smacking Legolas roughly upside the head. This time however the blow knocked the elf’s turban from his head and his hair spilled down over his shoulder revealing his pointed ears.

Lur glanced over their captive in surprise, looking at the other guard to gauge his response to the newfound information. If it were possible they drew back a little.

When Talft started to speak Rhuddryn held up his hand and walked closer to his prisoner. Legolas’ eyes were riveted to the ornate throw rug at his feet, trying to control his fear and steel his face. He had been discovered in more ways than one and he wasn’t sure where things would go from here.

"An elf." The man stated calmly. Reaching out his fingers he roughly tipped Legolas’ chin slightly to get a better look at his ears. Unwilling to be touched by this human, Legolas jerked his face out of the man’s grasp, earning him a swift backhanded slap.

The blow smarted and the elf licked the corner of his mouth where his lip had split on contact with one of Rhuddryn’s heavy rings. Slowly the prince turned back, focusing on Rhuddryn once more. Legolas watched as the slave owner walked around his desk and carefully looked over the contents on its top, fingering the papers idly. His hand stopped over the letter concerning the warg breeding which was conspicuously out of place and he quietly asked, "What did you see?"

Legolas did not answer.

Rhuddryn fingers grasped the edges of the letter and he crumpled it in his fist, glancing up darkly at the elf. "Were you reading this? Trying to get an edge on our successes? Who is your employer?" For a moment the thought that Seobryn was somehow trying to double-cross him flittered through the man’s mind, but no, he couldn’t believe that, the trader stood to lose just as much as he if there were any shenanigans at this stage of the game. "Answer me, who paid you to spy on my doings!"

Again there was no reply and a small thin merciless smile stretched across the man’s face as he shook his head slowly, another idea, a much more plausible one coming to him. "Hiring an elf... low even for him." He whispered to himself before glancing back again at Legolas.

"You’re another spy from Nasr, aren’t you? Aren’t you?!" Rhuddryn slapped Legolas sharply across the face once more. His benefactor was already displeased with his lack of results; the last thing he needed was someone else trying to worm into his contract and put him out of the deal. The man was livid as he stalked back and forth, muttering angrily to himself.

"Only he would stoop to hiring an elf! So were you working for him all along? Is that why you hooked up with Seobryn in the first place? Or did he buy you off after you came here? Oh! It doesn’t matter! He’s always trying to cut me out and get my contacts. Well it’s not going to work this time, you hear me?" the man rounded on his prisoner again, fixing Legolas with a cold, harsh glare as he stood in front of the elf, the letter still gripped in his hand. He had lost business to his rival’s spies and plots before; he was not going to do so again. "Do you know what I did with his last spy? I sent him back to Nasr in a box. A very small box. He is NOT stealing any of my projects from me again, and you are never going to report back to him about my doings or my work," he promised darkly.

Legolas didn’t speak, there was nothing useful he could say; it would be pointless. He had no idea who Nasr was and it didn’t matter anyway, Rhuddryn’s mind was obviously already made up. The man would never believe the elf wasn’t the spy they thought he was, and if he tried to tell them, then they would want to know what he was doing here... and that would only put Aragorn in danger as well; there was no way Legolas was going to chance that. The elf held his breath slightly, wondering if these men intended to kill him. Sorrow flashed across the elf’s heart. Not for himself, but he knew that if he died no one would ever know what had befallen Aragorn, and the young ranger would likely end up living the rest of his days as a forgotten, confused slave. That thought tore at him.

"Can we kill him?" Talft inquired with an unpleasant grin. He had hated Legolas for months now, ever since the elf had started intervening on the slaves’ behalf and would like nothing better than to be able to carry out his execution.

"No," Rhuddryn shook his head, somewhat distracted as if thinking hard. "Not yet. I keep killing his spies and he just sends more. Let’s let him just wonder about what’s happened to this one for a while."

"Then what are we going to do with him?" Lur kicked the prince dispassionately.

"Use him against Nasr if I ever get the chance," Rhuddryn stroked his chin, trying to think of a way to do that. No idea presented itself at the moment, but he’d hold onto the spy until one did. "For the moment... I want you to teach him the consequences of his actions. I’m sure you’ll enjoy that." The master’s look was slightly disdainful as he glanced between his two employees. These two had a bloodlust that did not always please him, but if they took that energy out on the elf instead of the slaves for a while then that was fine with him.

"Punish him well and I don’t care what kind of shape you leave him in. Try not to kill him, but," he locked a hard gaze on Legolas again. "I won’t fault you if it happens. When you’re done put him in with the slaves; the Olybryn seem to handle incorporating newcomers more easily than some of the others. He can make himself useful in the fields or else I’ll find a less pleasant use for him. Go on, get him out of my sight!"

Talft and Lur dragged the bound elf out of the room. Keeping in mind how much trouble Legolas had been to capture in the first place, they kept their weapons on him the whole time and gave him no chance to try anything further.

They took Legolas out of the big house, pushing him roughly through the courtyard, down to the long, low-roofed structure adjacent to the guardhouse. The lower half of the walls were made of stone, the upper of wood and it reeked of fear and darkness. It was where misbehaving slaves were taken for punishment.

The two Haradrim shoved the elf roughly into the waiting gloom and the doors slammed shut behind them.

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