30. Chapter Thirty
"Do you see your brother?" Legolas shouted.
"Nay. But there is Haldir."
"Yes, I see him. Your brother must be there, also. You saw him chained. He is still alive, then. Do you see him?"
She scoured the few captives that were left. "Yes!" She screamed in relief. "He is there."
Legolas motioned and three Elves ran forward. He watched as an Orch took Haldir down a side passage. Haldirriel seemed to miss this. He watched as she ran forward, running to save her brother. He motioned; Elladan and Elrohir nodded. They sent another three Elves to follow Haldirriel, then followed the tunnel where Haldir and his captor ran.
No word was spoken as the four Elves followed the Orch. Twisting and turning, they discovered they had lost them. Legolas groaned in grief and horror. "We must find him. We must."
The twins nodded. The tunnel forked. "We will take the right. You take the left, Legolas. Take Amroth with you."
Legolas did not respond; he was already well down the tunnel. The twins grimaced, nodded to Amroth who followed Legolas, then turned and followed their fork into the deeps.
The tunnel Legolas followed dead-ended and he screamed in frustration. Then, nodding his head, he turned back. "They must have gone the way Elladan and Elrohir travel. Let us be quick about it." The Elf with him nodded and followed him as he scrambled down the path. After at least a quarter hour, he could hear screams coming from ahead. "Elbereth," he cried aloud, recognizing Haldir's voice. "What do they to him?" Elladan and Elrohir had stopped; their mouths open in horror. He pushed them aside.
The scream broke through Haldir's pain-glazed mind. 'I must fade. Must save myself.'
Haldir recognized that voice. He sobbed. 'He cannot see me like this. He cannot.' He pulled himself inwards, trying desperately to fade, to lose himself and end his misery and Legolas' discovery of his shame. "Please, Elbereth, help me to fade. Save him. Save my love."
The Orch shuddered and fell upon him; black blood covered the Marchwarden's face. Haldir could not breathe, so great was the weight upon him. His body ached and his mind reeled. "Help me fade!" he cried desperately. Horrified, he felt the beloved hands upon him, knew Legolas would see what had been done to him, and tried to wrench away from his mate.
"Haldir, melethron, I am here. You are saved. The Orch is dead."
Haldir closed his eyes tight shut. "Leave me. I am soiled. A maelvûl 'waur."
"Nay. If you be a maelvûl 'waur, then you are my maelvûl 'waur!" He wept as Elladan and Elrohir pulled the Orch that Legolas had killed from Haldir's body. As soon as the Lórien Elf was freed, Legolas clung to him. "Listen. You will not fade. Not until I say you have my permission. You are bonded to me. You are mine. You will not leave me," he hissed as grief and horror pierced his very fëa. "You will not leave me."
Haldir felt the strong arms about him, felt the beloved breath across his face, and heard Legolas scream at him. He bent his head and wept bitterly. "I am soiled, melethron. I can no longer give you what you need."
"Bonding has naught to do with need. Whether there be love or need or lust, it matters not, once the bond has been established. You are mine! Morgoth's breath! You are mine! You will not fade. Do you hear me? You will not fade."
"Legolas," Haldir cried brokenly. "I can not endure your touch. Do you not understand?" He sobbed piteously. "I am soiled." The Lórien Elf wept bitterly.
Legolas held him gently and stroked his hair. "I care not. I love you, Haldir. I care not if we can never make love again, if we can never kiss again, all that concerns me is that I can hold you. That is not too much to ask, is it, garn nîn?"
Haldir continued to sob. "Let me go, please Legolas. Let me go."
"Nay. I cannot. Mandos will not have you. Not as long as I can breathe. Hold onto me. I will be your strength until you once again are strong."
Haldir wept into Legolas' chest. "If that is what you wish, if you wish me to live on in agony and shame, then I will not fade."
"Nay!" Legolas cried. "Not shame. But pride in knowing you have overcome even the foulest touch and still survived. Nay, more than survived. Lived to love again. Love with all you are. That I promise you, Haldir. I will help you overcome this. There is no shame upon you."
Haldir closed his eyes.
"You will not leave me! Haldir!"
"He is insensible, Legolas, not lost. Let us take him from here. Out into the light." Elladan had put his hand on Legolas' arm.
The Silvan Elf nodded, wiping tears from his eyes. "I will carry him."
"Of course you will. Come, Elrohir. Let us help our friend." Elladan stooped and pulled Legolas' knife from the Orch's back, quickly wiped it on his sleeve, and put it into Legolas' sheath. He picked up the Elf's bow and quiver of arrows. Elrohir helped Legolas cover Haldir with what remained of his leggings.
Legolas took his lover in his arms and stood. "Let us be away from here."
They turned back into the tunnel and made their way forward, Haldir still insensible.
Haldirriel was the first to reach the captured Elves. Her bow had already killed two of the beasts that had held her brother captive. Another two were slaughtered by the Elves with her. No more Elves were killed. The Yrch, realizing they were outnumbered, left their captives and tried to flee. None escaped.
The prisoners fell as their captors turned and ran. Haldirriel stepped over the bodies of the dead Yrch and knelt by the side of one of the prisoners. The Elf had fallen on his face, but she knew him, and sobbed in relief and terror. "Singollo. Say you are still alive, after all this time. That I have found you and freed you."
He looked upon her face and sighed. "Loselleth, you came. I thought it was a dream, but I felt you with me, towards the end. I knew I could not hold on much longer. I cried out to you," he sobbed, "and you heard me."
She wept into his hair, holding him close and whispering words of comfort. "I am here now. We will return to Eryn Lasgalen, you are free now."
"Eryn Lasgalen? Where is that, Loselleth? Valinor?"
"Nay," she smiled. "Never the mind. I will take you home to Mirkwood."
"Thank you," he whispered, then quieted. She looked upon him alarm.
"He rests," Mahtan took her arm. "We must be out of here." He motioned and the Elves picked up the injured captives and walked slowly towards the great cavern.
"Where is Haldir?" She suddenly realized he was not with the captives. "Where is he?"
"I saw Legolas turn down another tunnel. He must have been taken there."
"We must follow!" She jumped up and began to run.
"Elladan and Elrohir are with him. They will find Haldir and save him. You must care for your brother now. Bring him from these tunnels into the light. You must. Is this not the task the Lady of the Wood set upon you?"
"Nay," she grit her teeth. "I was to find them and save them all."
"And you have saved those who are left. Now, pick up your brother and bring him into the light."
She looked longingly towards the barely hidden tunnel where she knew Haldir must have been dragged. Her eyes misted, but duty called. She turned towards Mahtan, kicked him, then picked up Singollo.
The Elf bent his head in sorrow. "I am sorry, mellon nin."
A/N - 1) Melethron - Male lover; 2) maelvûl 'waur - lust slave (whore) http://www.esteliel.de/forum/viewtopic.php?f=12&t=76; 3) Garn nîn - my own; 4) Mellon nin - my friend
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