When Legolas came to, he found that he was being carried on the back of a Dwarf, and the last rays of Anor had ceased to fall long ago. His head heart hurt, and the cut above his right eye had caused it to swell shut. He tried to look about with his good eye, and only found himself being greeted with the unfamiliar sight of rocky terrain. The Dwarves were bringing him back to their colony.
"Legolas!" He turned as best as he could at the whisper, and saw that Caeriel was staring at him. He struggled to recall what else had happened, and smiled as he remembered that Esendri had managed to get away. She seemed relieved to see that he was almost unhurt, but shuddered as she saw how black his eye had turned.
The Dwarves had not yet realised that he was awake, and he started plotting again. Even so, he knew that it was a lost cause he was fighting, for even if he were able to somehow rid himself of the Dwarves, for he had no idea how to get home.
But that was not about to stop him from trying. He tested his bonds, and found that they were tight. Even then, he twisted them, trying to worm his hands free, causing his skin to break under the roughness of the rope. Pain shot through the raw skin, but he refused to give up.
A blow to the back of his head indicated that his efforts had been noticed, and he turned around and gave his most charming smile to the grumpy creature. He received a grunt in reply, as the Dwarf gave him a warning look and walked on.
It was not long before the party was called to a halt, and the Elflings were dumped on the ground as the Dwarves prepared to set up camp. Legolas wiggled over to Caeriel, who was pale and in shock.
"Caeriel, do not fear, I have a plan."
She looked up, as if expecting some Dwarf to come bearing down on them. When that did not happen, she managed to look into his face, biting back the urge to gag as she saw just how grotesque his wound looked, for it was all swollen and colourful, blood having clotted both in and outside the protective layer of his skin.
He noticed her staring at his eye, and managed a cheery smile, and tried his best to hide his bleeding wrists from her, but to no avail. She drew in a deep breath, only to be silenced by a low hiss from him.
"Do not worry about me. Listen, the Dwarves will leave but one sentry tonight, and I will distract him to give you the opportunity to escape. Find a sharp rock and cut your bonds, or be on the lookout for a blade. Once you are free, head west and walk until you find your way back into Eryn Galen."
He then instructed her to reach deep within his tunic with her bound hands, grateful that the Dwarves had not thought to search him. Obeying, she drew out a odd assortment of things. She found what he was looking for, a whistle which she was to blow once she got within the forest confines, for help would come to her.
As predicted, the Dwarves settled down for the night, and nodded off to sleep one by one after having consumed their dinner of dried meat. Some was offered to the Elves, and Legolas spat on it, earning himself a good boxing about the ears. He seemed determined to prove himself as difficult as possible.
When only the watch was left, Legolas made good on his word, and started squirming about, catching the Dwarf's attention.
"What is it?" he demanded.
Legolas was squeezing his legs together hard, and twisting about in an urgent manner. The Dwarf for a while before he realised what was going on.
He gave out a grumble, and hoisted Legolas up to his feet, and took him aside, a distance away from the camp, leaving the Caeriel unguarded. He set Legolas down on his feet, and looked away, only to feel a tug on his sleeve, as Legolas held out his bound hands, eyes wide and pleading. The hardened heart of the Dwarf gave way, and he loosened the bonds, but not without a strict warning to him to not try anything funny. He waited as Legolas relieved himself, and turned back him examining his still bleeding hands.
"Here, take this," the Dwarf thrust a cloth in Legolas's face, together with healing salve, only to receive a blank, piteous stare in return.
"Don't you try that on me. I have my orders to watch over you!" he said. "You've tried that trick on Barin already this morning, and you won't be able to do it on me!"
To his horror, tears appeared in those scared, blue eyes, and Legolas started howling.
"Be quiet! It's enough to wake the dead!" The Dwarf panicked, and picked Legolas up, trying to stifle his increasingly louder wails.
It was with some relief that he noticed Legolas's eyelids grow heavy. The Dwarf caught him as he slumped forward, and carried him back to the campsite, and put him down on the ground.
When no enraged shouts filled the air, Legolas opened his eye a crack, only to find Caeriel staring at him in puzzlement. He almost let out a yelp of surprise, and his eye opened wide, unable to understand why she was still around.
"I have decided there is no way I would allow you to be tormented by the horrid creatures on your own!" she said.
Legolas almost screamed at her words, annoyance and frustration rising in him for her sheer silliness and stubbornness. He had put on the whole act for nothing!
"Furthermore, you might find it useful that one of us understands the tongue of the Dwarves!" she said.
Legolas's eye widened in shock, before a mischievous glint appeared. "How do you know it?"
"My mother was fluent in it, and taught it to me. My father used to be your father's envoy to the Dwarves," she said. "You will thus find that my presence will be useful! Furthermore, I suggest you stop tormenting the Dwarves further, as they are trying to decide whether you are worth the trouble!"
Legolas blushed, knowing very well that she was speaking the truth. Even so, he could not see how he should not make the Dwarves' lives as difficult as possible in repayment for taking him captive!
"You will be no use to anyone, least of all yourself, dead, Legolas!" she said.
"If you so insist, my Lady!"
Caeriel noted the strange glimmer in his eye, but refused to ask him what it was that he had in mind.
"Take some rest, it will do you good, for your injuries need the sleep to heal!" she said.
To her surprise, he nodded, and turned over on his side away from her. Before long, his breathing seemed to deepen, indicating that he had slipped into the world of dreams. It was long however, before Caeriel managed to calm her mind enough. She wondered if she would ever see her uncle again.
It was dawn when they were woken by the Dwarves, who offered them some more food, only to be turned down. Caeriel shot a few looks at Legolas, who seemed to be docile and obedient, and was using his natural charms to their best effect, chattering away in Sindarin to any and every Dwarf in sight who would listen, even though they could not understand a word of what he was saying.
When their eyes locked, Legolas grinned, and winked at her. He then raised his still tightly-bound hands to show that the bleeding had stopped and that the wounds were starting to heal. Even the swelling around his eye was starting to go down, and he was able to open his injured eye, allowing a crack of light to enter.
The Dwarves abandoned their camp and set off again, moving in a north-easterly direction, not making particular haste. They spoke to each other in their own tongues, and even managed a few attempts at communicating at the irrepressible Legolas, who could not be silenced. Legolas noted how they did not try to stop his chatter, and carried on, sometimes even insulting his captives with a wide, innocent smile, drawing stifled laughter from Caeriel.
"The Dwarves have warmed up to you, Legolas, they say they did not know that Elven children could be quite so adorable!" Caeriel said as the pair were put down aside when the party rested.
"Indeed, have you not already realised that?" Legolas said as he examined a bug crawling on the ground in front of him. "'Tis quite boring though, this incessant chatter, there are only so many rude words I can come up with a smile on my face and pretending that I do not understand their questions about our people! I wonder how much longer the journey is to take?"
"We should be there ere nightfall, or so they say."
"Good. I hate long journeys!"
It was then that Legolas noted that Caeriel looked upset.
"What is the matter?" he said, wiggling so that he got closer to her.
"I - I am worried, Legolas!"
"Do not be, Caeriel, I promise that nothing will happen to you!" The brave words were said with nary a quaver in his voice, and lent her some strength. "Rest assured that my father will be after their heads in no time!"
"It has been long since we were captured, and yet there has been no sign of your father's guards. I wonder if Esendri managed to get back to them? "
A brief shadow flitted across Legolas's face, only to be replaced with another bright smile. "Knowing Sen, he probably got himself lost! However, he will get to my father in good time, and it will mean a sorry end indeed for these horrid creatures who have dared to take us captive! In the meantime, use this as an opportunity to see how the other half lives!"
Once again, the Dwarves picked them up and set off, and Legolas put on his act again. He saw that the Dwarf that carried him was giving him small, encouraging nods as he rattled on, and decided it was time to raise his hands to the Dwarf, before asking in the most beseeching tone he could muster for the other to remove his bonds, as he spoke of how much it hurt him. It was not long before the Dwarf relented, seeing as to how chafed and raw his wrists were.
The next time they paused to rest, Legolas pretended to collapse with sheer exhaustion in a pile next to Caeriel, but instead he worked at her bonds, and it was not long before both her arms and legs were free. He then proceeded to wind the rope about her limbs in a fashion such that they appeared to be bound, but were in knots that could be easily undone with a tug of her teeth. He then explained his plan to her under his breath, before he started working at the rope that bound his feet together.
As predicted by Legolas, a chaotic scene greeted their eyes as they neared the entrance of the dwellings of the Dwarves, although he was the one who panicked as he was reminded of where the Dwarves lived - in caves. Throughout the journey, he had not remembered that, and it filled him with extreme dread as he contemplated the consequences of not being successful in escaping. He would be brought into those caves.
"Legolas!" Caeriel hissed, soft enough that none could hear. The pair had been laid down amidst the chaos of about fifty Dwarves each trying to enter or exit the caves, all quarrelling and arguing with the sentries, some bearing supplies, others bringing newly mined minerals out. When he did not reply, and fixed her with a blank, panicky stare, she tried again.
"We have to leave, now!" she whispered. The alarmed look in his face only seemed to grow, and it was only when she untied her limbs and the rope around his feet and dragged him off did he react.
They slid behind some rocks, Legolas following Caeriel as she led the way, trying his best to push his fears away from his mind. The absence of any shouts served to indicate that their disappearance had not yet been discovered, and the Elflings scurried away from the entrance, growing bolder with each step.
Climbing over the top of the slight rise, both were about to breathe huge sighs of relief as they made their descent. To their horror, the expected view of freedom did not come, and instead they found themselves staring straight into the face of Barin, the leader of the party.
Legolas launched himself straight at the Dwarf, raining his fists down upon Barin's thick hide in a last-ditch attempt to save Caeriel, only to be brushed aside. The enraged Dwarf stopped Caeriel in her flight, and yelled out loud as Legolas bit him hard in the finger while he tried to pick him up.
"Why you little - " he shouted, drawing the attention of his comrades, who rushed to the scene of the scuffle.
It took two Dwarves to subdue Legolas, who had all but gone mad, kicking and screaming, and they hauled the still struggling figure down back to the entrance, where an impressive looking Dwarf stood, his brow furrowed as the young one was presented to him.
"Lord Galdin, this little blighter has given us the most difficult time. Shall we silence him for good?" Barin said, nursing his bleeding finger.
"Kneel you stubborn Elf, for this is our Lord Galdin!" The two Dwarves holding the screaming Legolas pushed him down onto his knees, while he continued to hurl insults at them. At a gesture from the leader, another Dwarf reined in the manic Elfling with a piece of cloth in his mouth, pulling hard at both ends, causing him to stop his shouting, and strangled noises to escape his throat. The Dwarf pulled harder still, and caused the little one's head to jerk up to look at Galdin.
"He's a fierce little one all right," Galdin said. "Who are you, and what is your relation to King Thranduil?"
"It's no use, Lord Galdin, he does not understand us!"
Legolas tried to speak, but found that the cloth was in his way. He bit down hard on it, but found that it did not yield.
At a command from his leader, the Dwarf holding the cloth let it go.
To their surprise, Legolas spoke in hesitant but intelligible Westron. "Let me go, you dirt-eating fools! I demand you let me free!"
Barin almost exploded with anger as he realised that Legolas had fooled them all.
"You little whelp! Wait until I lay my hands on you!"
In response, Legolas spat at his face, causing him to howl in rage. The hard blow across his face caused Legolas to jerk back in pain, and a trickle of blood started to run down his nose.
"That is enough, Barin!" Galdin said, causing Barin to take a step back, although not without some form of victory in his eyes.
Galdin stepped forward, and saw the fire that was burning in the fierce and proud face.
"Who are you, Elfling, for it is clear to us now that you are no ordinary Elf. Speak!"
"Let me go! My father will see that you pay dearly for your treatment of me, you rotten dirt-bags!"
"He will bring in his army and wipe your sorry colony off the face of the earth if you do not release me this instant!" Legolas cried.
"So, you are King Thranduil's boy." A strange, unreadable glint appeared in Galdin's eyes.
"Indeed, we quake in our boots to hear that!" Barin spat. "Thranduil can do nothing to us!"
"Take them away!" Galdin said. "And I would be angry if they are not in a suitable condition to be ransomed to Thranduil!"
If Legolas had been agitated just now, he went berserk this time as the Dwarves tried to bring him into the entrance. He kicked and struggled, and his shouts grew louder. The Dwarves silenced him again with the gag, but he only resisted further and thrashed about more violently. It was then that Caeriel noted that this was not an act, and that the hot, furious tears that were streaming down the sides of his cheeks were real. He threw a few desperate glances in her direction, and she realised that his eyes were pleading and there was much fear and pain in them.
She watched as he was given a few heavy blows to the head by Barin, but even those failed to stopped his manic struggling. In horror, she continued watching as he was given a severe beating by the Dwarves around him, and heard the sickening crunch of bones being hit by the heavy fists and metal landing on him. Eventually, the thrashing stopped, as Legolas lapsed into a worrying sleep, his whole body going limp.
Fear rose in her as Barin turned to her, his face cut and bleeding from where Legolas had lashed out at him.
"You'll go without a fight, won't you?" he said, and received a few scared nods of the head from her as a response. "To the dungeons with them!" he commanded, and the Elves were carried into the caverns, deep down into the bowels of the earth, Caeriel's face full of tears as well as she kept casting worried glances at her unconscious and injured friend.
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.