1. The Great Escapede
The three, two Elves and a Man, were walking among the thick branches of Mirkwood. Being Elven folk, Legolas and his brother made no impression on the soft earth; the man, however lightly he stepped, could not avoid leaving some imprint to mark his passing.
“Hannon le, Legolas,” he said, a twinkle in his grey eyes, “but I shall stay with my sword all the same.”
“Then do so,” Felagund interjected. “But I am sure you will someday feel the need of a pair of knives.”
“I doubt it,” Aragorn said. “Master Elf, you boast of your blades, but tell me now if you do not recall the match we held but shortly before leaving the palace, and whom the victor was.”
Felagund’s ears flushed pink, but he said nothing.
“But tell me now, what exactly are we doing?” Aragorn continued, his voice grave. “This is no hunting trip, as you claimed beforehand.”
“We are keeping you away from the palace,” Felagund said.
“Because Father is in a foul temper, that is why,” Legolas said. “The group of Dwarves imprisoned for trespassing has just escaped, and Maedhros has taken it upon himself to distract Father while we go for a nice little hunting trip to remove ourselves from Father’s presence. By the time we get back, he should have quite forgotten that you befriended those Dwarves in Imladris”
Aragorn looked slightly uncomfortable and Felagund grinned. “Ah, that song…how did it go? Fa la la lally, here down in the valley, ha ha!”
“It was not what you would call a deep and lasting bond,” Aragorn said dryly, stepping on Felagund’s foot.
“Yes, but Father is not always so penetrating. And you will have to pay Maedhros back for the wine.”
“Wine?” Aragorn asked, pretending bemusement, but his eyes twinkled. “What wine?”
“The wine he’s using to sweeten Father’s mood,” Felagund answered. “The very best Dorwinion. And most expensive and difficult to get.”
Aragorn‘s face took on an expression of disbelief at the mention of Dorwinion wine. “Alas, I have little to offer Maedhros in payment of such a debt. What would you deem worthy of such a sacrifice?”
“Perhaps a bow,” Legolas said. “Such a bow would undoubtedly suit my brother’s talents as an archer.”
Felagund gave a strangled cough.
“And of course he would never break or lose such a treasure,” Legolas continued, “as he did the last one in his possession.”
“Truly,” Felagund said, sinking to the ground and leaning against a tree trunk, “the fault did not lie with Maedhros.”
Legolas stifled a groan and turned away, his stance impatient. “Felagund, it is an old tale and would not interest Aragorn. Come, the light will soon fade.
“With whom, then, did the fault lie?” Aragorn asked, a smile playing around his lips at Legolas’s obvious discomfort.
“Well,” Felagund began, searching his memory for the words Maedhros had used in telling the tale, “It began when Elladan arrived with his father Elrond and Galdor, an emissary from the Havens, nearly a thousand years ago. Elrond encouraged Elladan to spend time with Legolas and Maedhros, and even planned an archery contest in which the skills of Imladris were to be pitted against those of Mirkwood. Unfortunately, an incident involving a young and beautiful hiríl-- ” here Legolas began to pace and Aragorn’s smile grew- “and Legolas had resulted in Maedhros’ bow being abandoned in Mirkwood. My young and impulsive brothers decided to set out on a quest to retrieve it, and persuaded Elladan to join them…”
The three Elves crept through the passageways of Thranduil’s palace, keeping to the shadows as much as they could. Few torches were still lit, as the midnight bell had rung long since.
“I sincerely hope you know what you’re doing,” Elladan hissed from the back of the line. “I have no desire to wander the dungeons of your father’s palace till we are found, naught but dry bones in a heap.”
“Don’t worry!” Maedhros rejoined from about three feet in front of him. “I could find my way in the dark with both eyes closed. I know these tunnels like I know my own chambers.”
“Which is, in truth, not at all well,” Legolas said, earning him a jab in the ribs from his younger brother.
“Can we even reach the surface from this part of the palace?” Elladan asked, pulling his hair out of his eyes. He did not like dark places, or enclosed ones; and he was nervous.
“Yes!” Maedhros cried. Lowering his voice in response to the kick from Legolas, he continued. “I used to creep out here all the time to get away from Felagund when we would play Find the Spider. It leads right out into Northern Mirkwood.”
“Tell me again why we’re doing this?” Elladan asked.
“We’re going to go get my bow back, of course,” Maedhros said reasonably.
“And…why is your bow in northern Mirkwood in the first place?”
“Because he left it there last time we did this,” Legolas said.
“Did not!” Maedhros hissed. “Legolas did!” Legolas snorted, but even in the dim light Elladan could see his ears turning pink.
“Are we there yet?” Elladan asked. “Because if we aren’t, I’m inclined to turn around and go back to bed and not get in trouble with the two most powerful Elves west of the Misty Mountains”
“When you put it like that…” Legolas began, recalling the tongue-lashing he had received from his father on the last venture.
“We’re there!” Maedhros said hastily. Putting out a hand, he shoved hard against the stone. It shivered and fell outwards. Elladan coughed and swore as he was showered with dirt.
“Go, Maedhros!” Legolas said, glaring up at his brother. Maedhros glared back and with one swift motion, threw himself out of the hole, making still more earth fall down on the two remaining elves as his body knocked clumps of earth loose from the sides of the opening.
“I’m going next,” Elladan hissed, “before I’m permanently blinded.” Legolas groaned and quickly stepped back, far enough away that he wouldn’t be coated in dirt again. In another moment Elladan was through and whispering for Legolas to follow. The Elf reached up and pulled himself through, not without much squirming and a small avalanche of dirt and grass.
Legolas’s emergence from the hole was blocked by Elladan. Elladan had come through awkwardly and landed head first in the layer of muddy slush that covered the forest floor. Angry and dripping he had begun to push himself to his feet, when a hard blow in the small of his back sent him sprawling headlong in the slush once more. Raising his muddy face and blinking through caked eyelashes he was able to see Maedhros leaning against a tree trunk nearly weeping with laughter while Legolas stood in front of him sheepishly offering a helping hand and trying to subdue snorts of merriment.
“I,” the son of Elrond gasped with a supreme effort, “HATE Mirkwood!”
It was still dark, though it was nearly the fourth hour of the day; the winter nights were long. They had been out less than an hour and already Maedhros had managed to walk right into the middle of a scouting party of Orcs. Luckily for the three Elves, it was a small party, and only one guard had been posted as the rest ate. Now at least there were six less Orcs to trouble the Free Peoples of Middle-Earth.
Elladan sighed and rubbed his temples. He hated Mirkwood, he really hated Orcs, and he really, really, really hated blundering through an Orc-infested Mirkwood in the middle of the night--or what was dark enough to qualify as such-- with Thranduil’s two youngest sons.
“Elladan!” Maedhros hissed. “Hurry! We’re almost there.”
With another, heavier sigh, he rose and followed Legolas, wishing fervently that Legolas would override Maedhros, call a halt to this mad venture and take them back to safety and sensibility.
“Where is ‘there’?” he demanded of Legolas.
“There is as near the heart of Mirkwood as no matter. It’s also where about thirty spiders nest.” Legolas replied with a nonchalant air, as if this was no great matter.
“Are you mad?” Elladan demanded in disbelief. “No, I don’t even need to ask that. You are mad, both of you.”
“They are only spiders, Elladan,” Maedhros said light-heartedly. “Poke them with a stick and they run screaming.”
“There’s the problem of how to fend off the other twenty-nine while you’re poking one,” Elladan said grimly.
“There’s three of us, we can each take ten. If they even see us, which they shouldn’t if you would stop talking and blundering about.”
“Call me blundering again and I’ll tell Lotë about that archery contest three hundred years ago,” Elladan threatened. Maedhros waved a hand for silence and crept carefully through the layers of dead and dry leaves. Elladan, much against his better judgment, followed him silently. They were almost there when a huge spider dropped in front of them, hissing.
“Breakfassst,” it cooed. “Elvessss breakfasssst”
Elladan said a very bad word in Quenya and slit the spider’s throat.
“For shame, Elladan,” Maedhros said. His tone was light, though he drew his own blade. “Lord Elrond would make you aid in the kitchens for a week.”
“My father,” Elladan said through clenched teeth, “would say the exact same thing. If he was ever in the same situation, which he would not be, since he would have more sense than to follow you two idiots-” The Elf’s tirade was cut off in a grunt as a heavy strand of spiderweb hit him in the face. Acting almost faster than thought, he ducked before the spider who’d come up behind him could entwine him further in the horribly sticky web. Slashing through the web on his face, he regained use of his voice just in time to shout “Maedhros! Behind you!” and stab a spider that was about to leap onto Legolas’s shoulders.
Maedhros whirled, stabbed the spider with an already-blackened blade, and turned again to fight yet another of the foul beasts, calling “Hurry, both of you! My bow is up there!”
Legolas and Elladan were fighting back-to-back, slashing their way through spider and web towards Maedhros. “Maedhros! Duck!” Legolas shouted, and threw a long-knife. It buried itself to the hilt in the eye of a particularly large and venomous spider that promptly curled up and dropped atop Maedhros in its death throes. “Father’s going to be furious,” Legolas hissed, and plunged straight through a web to his younger brother. Elladan said another bad word and followed, pausing only to kill a young spider that had slipped out of its nest.
Legolas jerked his knife out of the spider’s head, kicked it viciously away from Maedhros, killed yet another spider, and dropped to his knees beside the motionless Elf.
Elladan watched them anxiously out of the corner of his eye. The flow of spiders had ceased, though he could see several sets of glowing eyes watching cautiously from the trees.
Legolas rolled Maedhros over, looked at him for a instant, then began to swear in Teleri, long and fluently. Elladan groaned and ran over to him.
“What happened-Elbereth!” There were marks of spider fangs on Maedhros’ neck, and thin fingers of pinkish red already spreading from the wounds.
“These spiders are venomous,” Legolas said grimly, feeling for Maedhros’ pulse with two fingers. “Their poison is slow and deadly.”
“Does he breathe?” Elladan asked, his hands tightening on his knife-hilts.
“Barely. Where are those thrice-cursed spawn of Morgoth?” Legolas spat, rising to his feet.
“Careful- there are still some half a score in the trees. They have strung web throughout the trees, so we will not be able to escape until they are all dead.”
“They will wish they had never heard of Legolas Thranduilon when this day’s work is over,” Legolas said grimly, and cried “Ai-i-i-i-i-i-i!”
The spiders attacked. Shouting “Imladris and the Lady!” Elladan entered the fray, spinning his deadly long-knives.
For an eternity the world was filled with red blood and black blood, flashing knives streaked with green and black, spider’s entrails, slime and filth, until, panting and gasping the Elves stood alone on the gore spattered turf.
Neither noticed, but Legolas was bleeding from a cut over his eye, and Elladan’s ribs were badly bruised.
Elladan knelt carefully and wiped his knives clean on the nearest patch of grass, then re-sheathed them. Legolas, not bothering with such niceties, abandoned his where they lay and dropped to his knees by his brother, cradling his head in his arms.
The older Elf picked up Legolas’s knives, wiped them, and strode over to where Maedhros lay. “Here. Put these away,” he ordered curtly, and bent to lift Maedhros. “We have to get him back.”
“He’ll never forgive us if we don’t get his bow,” Legolas said quietly, sheathing his knives. “We have no time!” Elladan said. “What of his bow? Is it worth his life?”
“He treasures it highly,” Legolas replied. “And the poison spreads slowly through the blood."
Elladan’s eyes were dark with disapproval, but he nodded grudgingly. “I will start back; do you follow.” Elladan strode off, going quickly but gently. Legolas watched him for an instant, then seized a tree branch and vaulted into the dark treetops, heading towards the nest he remembered all too well.
Thranduil and Elrond were for a time too concerned over the youngest Prince of Mirkwood to pay more than cursory attention to Legolas and Elladan, who both remained by Maedhros’s side till the crisis was past. When it was seen that Maedhros would shortly be himself again, however, Legolas and Elladan felt keenly the bite of the King’s anger as well as Elrond’s famed tongue-lashings and both left chastened and subdued.
“Strangely enough,” Felagund finished, “I have often caught Maedhros doing small favors for both my brother and the younger son of Elrond. The bow, though mendable, has been left in the armory to rot from that day to this.”
“Is that the truth of Maedhros’s sacrifice?” Aragorn asked, grinning. “Legolas, mellon nín, I never knew you knew how to swear like that.”
Legolas sighed and fell back on the grass.
“Will you teach me?”
Felagund made a sound that, in anyone other than an Elf, would have been called a snort. Legolas sat up abruptly and Aragorn smiled at him, the expression on his face one of total innocence.
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.