Shadow: 40. XL

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40. XL

Resounding footsteps unfamiliar to the ear roused the Elf from his stupor. It had been two days since his imprisonment, and the sterile stone fortress was starting to exert its toll on his body and mind. For the first time since his capture, cold shards of fear began to pick at his barely contained composure, but he fought at them doggedly.

The footsteps grew closer, and Esendri picked up the lighter step as compared to ones belonging to his normal jailers. Even then, it failed to hold his attention for long, and he sank back into his increasingly disillusioned state.

It was only when the key turned on the door before him did he return to the present. He looked up disinterestedly to see a strange, boyish face.

"Hello there," the boy said, a friendly smile lighting up his features. Delicately built, he could not have been a day above sixteen.

"Do you mind if I join you?" he continued, entering the cell before he received a response. He shut the door and turned to the Elf.

Esendri made a move to stand, but was gestured to remain where he was. He obeyed, glad to just have some company, even though he was not sure of the other's intentions. He eyed the boy, hesitant, unwilling to make the first move.

The boy smiled, before sitting down upon the squalid floor. It was then that Esendri noticed that his clothes of a crimson satin, sewn together with gold thread on his tunic. The rich material clung to his tapered form, tailored to suit him precisely. Yet, he seemed to take no notice of the rankness of the floor, and there he sat, his chiselled face framed by his unruly hair.

"I have come to inform you of your steed's escape," said the boy, watching his response intently.

As expected, the Elf leapt up with excitement, his face shining.

"Is Lindral well and far away? How did the escape come about?" His earlier shattered hopes began to start piecing themselves together as he chattered with joy derived from the news, the frostiness surrounding his emotions dissipating.

"Sit down and calm yourself, Esendri."

Esendri did as he was told, some of his joy replaced with suspicion at hearing his name. "Who are you?"

"I was wondering when you would ask. My friends call me Ifrit. I took your steed for a ride, and he threw me off his back as soon as I'd left the confines of the city, and escaped before I could recover from the shock," he winked and pointed at a small gash on his forehead before continuing, "I expect he will be on his way to alert your friends of your whereabouts?"

Esendri shook himself mentally. From what he could tell, it almost seemed as if Ifrit had wilfully released the horse. Why and how he managed to get to the beast was a mystery, for Marnor had been adamant that both Elf and steed be kept under strict surveillance.

"Gallenon sends word that your confinement will be ended."

"You are a friend of Gallenon's? How does he fair? You must caution him against putting his life at risk for my sake. Marnor is a dangerous man, and I fear for Gallenon. You too should take heed!"

Ifrit laughed at his words. "Don't you worry about me, there is no danger on my part. Gallenon is lying low for the moment, as there is much suspicion flying about in the city. These are uncertain times, but perhaps that might work best to our advantage."

Esendri smiled, joy filling his heart. He had sent word with the rat to Lindral to escape the first chance he had, and given his steed directions to send for help at Imladris.

"I shall leave you to your musings, for it would not do me good to be found here with you, especially not after my accident this morning. I hope that you are not being treated too appallingly, and shall see to it that the food sent to you is improved." He passed over a small package to the Elf.

"Thank you, Ifrit."

"Elladan too, has this to tell you: your master is well and recuperating at Imladris," said the boy, before shutting the door behind him.

His words, although soft, had the effect of a clap of thunder to the stunned Elf. Esendri shook his head. Surely he was hallucinating. There he sat for a full five minutes, trying to make sense of things, before he noticed the sack he held in his hands. Quickly opening it, he let out a gasp of shock as the familiar sight of lembas greeted him. He had not heard wrongly after all. His friends were in the vicinity, and Legolas was well! It was more than he could hope for. He felt himself grow lighter at the very thought, his bleak thoughts and claustrophobic fears dissipating. It seemed that the end of his imprisonment was in sight.

***

Elrohir was jolted from his light slumber by the opening of the door to the bedchamber. Night had come, and he had been drifting in and out of his sleep, waking periodically to ensure that Legolas was faring well.

"Gwathel!" he cried, and flew across the room, engulfing the newcomer in a tight embrace.

"It has been long indeed, muindor." The dark-haired beauty extricated herself lightly from his enthusiastic embrace. "Absence does make the heart grow fonder; Imladris grows lovelier with every day I spend away!"

Her brother beamed, beside himself with happiness. "How fare the fair leaves of Lori®¶n?"

"They lack the reason to grow more beautiful with your absence, Elrohir," teased Arwen, before her gentle eyes rested on the sleeping figure. She raised her eyebrows at Elrohir. "Another one of your projects?" she asked, referring to the many individuals drugged by her brothers in their numerous pranks.

Elrohir flushed deeply and replied, "You could say so, but °Ætis Legolas of Eryn Galen. He was brought to ada bearing the cursed poison of the Orcs and lies recovering from its toxic effects."

"Eryn Galen? What business does a Silvan Elf have in Imladris?"

"Ai, while it is true that Thranduil bears no love lost for ada, he can scarcely ignore the threat to his kingdom. He sent his son to hold council with ada. Glorfindel was sent to seek his presence, but instead returned with a barely alive Silvan prince. The other was kidnapped by a mortal warlord whose kingdom lies just south of Imladris. It seems that Silvan Elves have a knack for getting themselves into trouble."

"Why speak you of us in such a manner?" called a heated voice from the bed, signalling the awakening of an indignant Legolas.

Both Elves turned to find that Legolas had struggled up and was attempting to get out of bed.

"Mayhap you should seek to punish Glorfindel for his incapability to ensure the safety of two young Elves!" continued the Elven prince, his tone light and teasing.

"Speak to ada about it, I shall!" answered Elrohir.

Legolas got to his feet and walked up to Arwen, greeting her in the standard Elven embrace.

"From the light that shines from your very being, it seems to me that I am addressing the Even-Star. It has always been a regret of mine, never to have met you earlier. It seems too, that your reputation does no justice to your actual beauty."

"It seems to me that the fever has addled your brain, Thranduilion," said Elrohir, knowing that Legolas was teasing both himself and his sister.

"You are harsh on him, Elrohir, for has he not just awoken from the sleep you induced?"

Legolas laughed, his face lighting up.

"Ai, I would see you attempt to keep our little prince in one place, gwathel!"

"It would prove difficult beyond measure, undoubtedly!" Came the voice of Elrond from the open door.

"Ada!" all three young ones turned to face the newcomer.

He smiled back at them. "It might be of interest to you, Legolas, to know that Glorfindel has sent word. They have had unexpected help from within Umstraag, and expect to rescue Esendri tonight!"

As expected, the blue eyes shone with excitement and happiness. Å6¶5"My heart lightens to hear of such glad tidings, ada."

"For now, I wonder if you are well enough to grace tonight's banquet with your presence, for Lady Galadriel has arrived from Lothl®Ærien."

"Do you not see I have made a full recovery from the poison?"

"We shall leave then you to your preparations," Elrohir broke in. "I shall send servants with a selection of our finest ceremonial robes," he said, perfectly aware of Legolas's disdain for ornate garments. He then turned and left the room, followed by his sister and father, leaving a scowling Legolas behind.

Once they had rounded the corridor, a myriad of questions burst from the lips of the Elf maiden.

"Did Legolas not address you as Father?"

"Ai, ada took him in as a foster son on his first trip to Imladris. We decided to keep it a secret, for Thranduil would not have approved. He is proud, and still blames Imladris for the passing of Oropher. Legolas dwelt in Imladris for a year, his identity kept a secret to all but the three of us," interjected Elrohir, "Even Glorfindel, who was away at the time, was kept in the dark."

"But how came he to be in Imladris?"

"Elrohir and I chanced upon him while we were returning to Imladris. He was barely alive; it took him a year to recover from his injuries, and so he remained here. I must leave, for there are matters that call for my attention," Elrond stated abruptly, cut the conversation short, and left his children.

A look from his sister told Elrohir she expected a full explanation, and he sighed, motioning for her to follow him to his chambers.

Once within the privacy of his bedroom, Elrohir spoke, his thoughts bleak while facing his own recollections.

"Legolas was barely twenty when his mother was wounded mortally by a band of Orcs that waylaid them outside Eryn Galen. She gave up her life to save him. Brought back to the palace by Hunters, she breathed her last with Thranduil by her side. Legolas refused to accept that his mother had left them for good, as the concept of death was still novel and confusing to his young immortal spirit. He was convinced that she had sailed West to the shores of Valinor, and could not understand why she had abandoned him. He was forbidden to grieve by his father, which further compounded his belief that she had abandoned them. He did not remember the Orc-attack, and instead took it upon himself to search for her.

"Slipping off in the darkness of the night, Legolas somehow made it over the Misty Mountains, and we chanced across his wrecked body. He was young, and was not yet fully in possession of the powers of our kind, and the journey was torturous on him. His drive to seek out his mother was strong, but not strong enough to overcome the treacherous conditions of the pass, and he nearly succumbed to them fifty miles east of Imladris.

"Ada quickly repaired his physical wounds, but he still pined away for his mother. At that time, we had no clue as to who it was, for he would not tell us, and only called for his mother. Time and again, he tried to escape to the West, convinced that she was waiting for him there. We nearly lost him to grief when we got to the bottom of the situation and finally explained to him, but ada was determined not to. The battle to regain his spirit was eventually won, and by that time, he had become a part of our family. He left Imladris over a year after his mother's death to face up to his memories at home, only returning once since."

As her brother finished the story, Arwen looked at him, tears in her eyes.

"By the Valar, he has gone through so much!"

Elrohir did not respond, unsure of what to say, and it was a while before he spoke.

"I cannot help but worry for him."

"Elrohir, worry not, for Legolas is strong enough to pull through. You should have more faith in him."

Her brother looked up, face still shaded. "I will never forget the pain he went through, for I was there to see it! He is still a boy in spite of all appearances!"

"He will get through with your help, Roh."

"I can only hope so."


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.

Story Information

Author: fael bain

Status: General

Completion: Complete

Era: 3rd Age - The Kings

Genre: Action

Rating: General

Last Updated: 08/10/05

Original Post: 09/21/03

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