"I see you have not eaten!" exclaimed the young man, coming back to check upon the young Elf. The night had dragged on, and in spite of his misgivings, Esendri felt almost grateful for a familiar face.
Esendri did not reply, and instead fixed him with a piercing gaze. His suspicions had not been completely purged by the other's apparent genuine intents.
"Your silence is perfectly understandable, seeing as to how my comrades have mistreated you, but surely you have to eat!" said the man, bending down and loosening his bonds, before taking a seat.
"Mayhap your food is not to my liking," Esendri said as he gradually sat up into a more comfortable position.
The soldier looked up with delight and beamed at the Elf.
"You have decided to speak!" The astonishment in his voice was unmistakeable.
Esendri chose not to answer, and instead looked away. To his surprise, he found that that his hatred of the man had diminished greatly.
"I am sorry that you will not even consider eating the meat, but I have nothing else to offer!"
"I am a wood Elf, and we do not consume meat!" Esendri offered, "Elves can survive on little or no sustenance for days."
"You do not eat meat? Why, that is something I have never heard of! It is strange that you claim to be more resilient than us, for you seem so delicate! It also seems that I have forgotten my manners! I am Gallenon, son of Gallorin."
"My friends call me Esendri," replied the Elf, after a brief moments consideration.
"A pretty name indeed! It has always been my life's dream to meet one of your kind! The old songs contain mentions of the first-born, but I have never yet met anyone who has had the fortune to come across one of you! It is a shame that our meeting has to be under such circumstances, for I am sure it would have been more pleasurable if you had been in your natural element."
"A pity it is, that your deranged leader has decided kidnapping Elves is to be his new pastime!"
"I do apologise for his actions once again, I would free you, if not for that my family lives under his threat!" The young man's face grew dark. "It is up to you to believe it or not, but I do not wish to be here as much as you do!"
The Elf looked up sharply at the man, searching has face for any signs of deceit, before speaking, "Why have I been captured by your leader?"
"Alas, my friend, I am as much in the dark as you are. We crossed the Misty Mountains ten days ago. For what reason, he did not say. The men in this column are all members of his highly trusted Guards, and even we were not given any information."
"You claim your family is under threat, but you speak so freely of such matters! I find the two situations difficult to reconcile."
Gallenon looked at Esendri before chuckling softly. "I can see your mind is astute! If you take a look around you, you will see that the company lies asleep, for it is my turn to take up the watch."
"How came you then, to be in the service of as twisted a man as Marnor?"
A brief shadow flitted across the face of the man.
"Marnor rules over his kingdom with an iron fist. He enlists boys at the tender age of ten into training schools, where they are forced to work and are taught the mechanisms of warfare. The conditions are harsh. Those who show potential are allowed to progress. Those who do not are cast to work in the mines, spending the rest of their wretched lives underground, driving the furnaces of industry until they drop, their energy utterly spent. I was fortunate and avoided such a fate, for I performed well. In less than ten years, I now stand as a member of the palace Guards.
"But that has been enough about me; you should tell me more about yourself!"
The Elf smiled at his curiosity, taking his time before he spoke in his rhapsodic voice, choosing his words carefully.
"I hail from a land to the east of the Misty Mountains, known as Greenwood in your tongue."
"I see brevity is in your nature, my friend, or perhaps, you are distrustful of Man. There is no shame in admitting that, for it is with good reason as well. I have seen many deeds committed by men in my time, enough to make one give up all faith in our race forever, and condemn us to a doom, to dwell in the fires of Morgoth forever!"
"Ai, you speak as if I were a mere child, Gallenon!" exclaimed the Elf.
"For is that not what you are?"
"Mayhap in the eyes of my race, yes. However, I have walked Arda for more than a hundred years, and I must warn you that there is always more to an Elf than meets the eye. Do not let our frail and delicate constitution take you in, for you may live to regret it!"
The soldier laughed. "I forget that you are immortal, and beg for your forgiveness. You must understand that it is difficult for one such as myself to look upon one of you and wonder at the innocence and grace you exude. There is much wisdom possessed by your kind, more than Man can ever hope to learn."
"That is only so because we listen to the Earth, for she has great things to impart to her children."
"You speak the truth, Master Esendri, but I fear her secrets are forever lost to my race!"
"Nay, her knowledge is there for all that are willing to learn."
"I will bear that in mind. Alas, dawn draws nigh, and I must return to my post, for it will not be long before they awaken. I beg for your forgiveness for how Marnor treats you, for his is a heart blacker than coal even. I shall attempt to convince him of your agreeing to cooperate with us, and hopefully, your form need not be bound in such a shameful manner. Then, escape might be an option."
"I thank you for your efforts, friend."
A brief and apologetic smile, and the other was behind him, pulling on the rough ropes, returning them to their previous painful hold.
"I apologise once again for the way you are being treated, I hope to be able to speak with you soon, for your company is definitely more preferable to ignorant soldiers!"
Esendri had not the chance to open his mouth when the other slipped silently out of sight. The man was interesting. Perhaps Esendri had been overtly hasty in branding them as uncivilised beings, brought about by the souring or relations that resulted from the breaking of the great alliance between Elves and Men brought about by Isildur's betrayal.
His prejudices all came back to him, however, as a sharp kick was aimed at his stomach. Trying not to wince in pain, he looked up into the cruel eyes of Marnor.
"I am told you are willing to consider a deal?" asked the man.
Esendri met his gaze squarely, barely attempting to conceal his contempt and hatred.
"I see you will only speak to the good Captain. If that is what you wish, so be it. However, there are more important things we have to attend to, and you will just have to wait your turn!" Unable to resist his feeling of power, over the Elf, the man squatted down once again, and grabbed his jaw. Stroking the fair cheek with his other hand, he whispered, "Is that something you can do, Elf?"
It was all Esendri could do not to lash out at him in. A hot rush of rage and humiliation welled up in him, and he fought hard to maintain his passiveness. The human seemed disappointed in his failure to draw a response, for he stood up, and left without a second glance at his captive.
The servant breathed a sigh of relief. Gallenon was putting his family's lives at stake for him, and he had almost blown it away by his impulsiveness. It was more like something Legolas would do, failing to keep his pride and rashness under check. His insides lurched, remembering his master. A rising wave of panic came up in him as he remembered how he had failed to protect him. He wondered if Legolas had managed to escape unscathed, and felt his heart grow numb at the thought that anything would happen to him.
His thoughts were cut short by the arrival of a soldier, who picked him up, and placed him on the back of a horse, fastening him to the saddle like a sack of potatoes. If not for his earlier conversation with Gallenon, this would surely have caused Esendri to explode with bitter rage, and he would have attempted an attack. Instead, he took a few deep breaths to calm himself, and ignored the soldiers around him.
The rest of the day passed by in a blur, as the Elf withdrew into himself. They descended the slopes of the Mountains. Once or twice, Esendri managed to catch a glimpse of a very subdued and forlorn Lindral, tied up with as many ropes as his master. Each time, he sent the steed calming waves of the magic, in an attempt to reassure him.
Eventually, the company stopped for the night, and Esendri was taken off the horse and tossed roughly aside. A fire was set up, and he could pick out their rancorous laughter as they sat around and ate their cooked meat, the acrid smell of charred flesh rising and stinging his nose, making him feel ill. In time, the grating voices dropped off, as the men retired for the night.
A familiar step announced Gallenon's return. He did not speak, and instead bent down to loosen the tight bindings, before waiting patiently for Esendri to struggle to a seating position.
"Thank you, Gallenon."
"Alas, Esendri, that I did not manage to lessen your suffering any earlier."
Esendri nodded appreciatively, although his eyes were distant, and his mind elsewhere.
The prisoner started from his thoughts at the touch of the other. He smiled, unconvincingly at the other, attempting to hide his distress.
"Do the ropes hurt you?" enquired his friend.
"Nay, Gallenon, it is my master that I worry for."
"Your master? I did not know that Elves had servants."
"Not in the way of your race, Gallenon."
"I apologise for my brusqueness; I did not mean it to be degrading. Why do you worry for him?"
"Ai, I believe that he is the one your Lord seeks. He was poisoned by the foul venom of Orcs that waylaid us on our journey," said Esendri, eyes masked at the thought that he had let Legolas down in such a time of need.
"That explains the search party sent! I did not know that the one Marnor seeks is your master! Do not fret, for the men who have been sent are weak and foolish, and I do not doubt that they will not be able to succeed.!"
"You do not understand, he has been blinded by the poison!"
"In that case, I do not know what to say in order to comfort you. It is beyond my ability to help, but I do promise to alert you of any news."
There was no reply.
"If it is of any consolation, I have managed to glean the following information: we are headed back to our city, as Marnor believes there to be a threat. You are to be taken along. Once we reach the castle, hopefully the confusion will allow me to set you free without raising too much suspicion."
Esendri nodded absently.
"You seem very concerned for your master. It strikes me that your relationship must transcend that of a master and a servant?"
"Ai, he was the first friend I ever had. We were then mere boys. I can never repay the kindness he has shown to me."
"You were already his servant then? I can never fathom the ways of your kind!"
"Indeed. My family has always served his. My parents were killed by Orcs, and the King took me in, and I have waited on his son ever since!"
"An Elven prince!"
"Not so loud, Gallenon," said Esendri. "We cannot yet ascertain the reasons your leader has for wanting Legolas."
"I beg your pardon, Esendri, for I let my excitement get the better of me! He is called Legolas then"
An awkward silence hung in the air, as Esendri berated himself for revealing so much.
Gallenon seemed to read his thoughts. "Do not fret! Rest assured that my lips remain sealed! Alas, I fear I must once again leave you! Be patient, the time will come for you to make your escape."
Esendri maintained his quiet and let the captain tie him up again.
"I will be back," promised Gallenon.
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.