25. Shadowed Hearts Part One
“Often,” Thranduil said quietly, “Whenever I feel out of sorts.”
“What happened?” Elrond asked concernedly, “Have you had no news from Anoriel?”
“No, I have not yet,” Thranduil said, “Nor had I expected it, she cannot openly disobey her father, her king.”
“Then?” Elrond queried.
Thranduil shrugged, “I must say that I have unease on my mind. Though I have reasons, I fear they may not be all.”
Elrond was about to haul himself into a sitting position when an arrow whizzed past Thranduil’s head missing narrowly. They leapt onto their feet and made for their weapons, but more arrows flew through the air, two grazing Elrond’s left arm. He fell back onto his knees numbly as something tampered with his warrior instincts. He watched groggily as Thranduil landed on the ground with a heavy thud beside him, the royal parchments he had been reading fluttering about in the wind. The last thing he saw before he lost consciousness was a group of swarthy men arrive in the glen, smug expressions on their ugly faces.
“Elrond,” a hand shook him roughly, “Elrond, wake up, please!”
“Thranduil,” Elrond muttered as he opened his eyes blearily, they were in a dark cave, their legs bound by strong iron chains. Their capturers were sitting in a circle around a large fire, laughing and eating. They paid no attention to their prisoners. But Elrond knew that the men were not as gullible as they seemed.
“Glad to know you remember my name,” Thranduil said dryly, “I had despaired of waking you.”
“Sedated arrows,” Elrond explained to a dubious looking Prince.
“Beyond the point,” Thranduil cut in changing to the forbidden tongue of Quenya, “We need to escape! Those are slavers.”
“Being enslaved would be an enlightening experience what with our long lives,” Elrond offered in the same tongue. The words sounded clipped and unnatural from his mouth though they seemed natural and pleasing from Thranduil.
“Curse me for bedding a Peredhel, a Noldo Peredhel at that!” Thranduil said, “I meant, you dull-wit, that if we are sold to the enemy, our lives and our hides would not be worth even a Noldor song!”
Elrond sobered and asked worriedly, “What do we do?”
Thranduil muttered something in dwarvish best left untransalated.
Four men from the circle by the fire approached them and dragged them to the centre of the circle, Elrond felt the hairs on his spine raise as more than sixty pairs of eyes appraised him.
There was a swarthy man, darker than the rest, seated in what evidently seemed to be the place of honour, for his neighbours had maintained a respectful distance. The man raised his right hand and flicked his fingers once. The men who had dragged Elrond and Thranduil approached them again and without further ado, ripped apart their clothing with their crude knives. Elrond felt the cold wind penetrate his very soul as he shivered naked, surrounded by the slavers, whose eyes devoured his body greedily, calculating the obvious profit they would make.
“You treat your hosts with remarkable crudeness,” Thranduil said clearly, his eyes on the chieftain.
The man laughed saying as his eyes roved over the Prince’s graceful form, “This one is young, not yet ripe. The best age to break them in.”
“We are not horses to be broken in,” Thranduil said coldly, “Cease this folly and release us. If you leave immediately, then you may not come to harm.”
All the men jeered and the chieftain asked guffawing, “And who may be you to say thus?”
“Thranduil Oropherion, Crown Prince Of Green Wood the Great,” was the quiet reply.
There was a collective gasp and silence for a few moments before the chieftain leered, “Ah! The famed jewel of the lovesick Elf King’s hoard! Then you shall certainly be worth much if we hand you over to the Lord Of Mordor.”
Thranduil crossed his arms over his chest proudly saying, “You shall, if you can take us there.”
The men laughed at his words. The chieftain walked to the Prince and kept his hand on Thranduil’s cheek humiliatingly. But the Prince continued staring at him coldly.
As the man’s hands slowly crept down Thranduil’s front body towards his chest, Thranduil whispered in Quenya, “None who hurt the royal blood of Greenwood shall draw breath again.”
The man grunted in surprise, clutched his chest, pain convulsing his pain and fell to the ground slowly, his hands trailing numbly down Thranduil’s thighs and legs before the man fell dead at the Prince’s feet. The slavers got to their feet screaming, but they were frightened to approach the two elves, they fled haphazardly, their confused, frightened voices resounding in the forest even after they had disappeared. Thranduil closed his eyes tiredly, Elrond approached him awkwardly hampered by the chains on his legs and they hugged each other relieved at the end of their ordeal.
A muffled sobbing from the back of the cave, Thranduil muttered, “Yet one of those cowards,” he took up on of the slaver’s abandoned swords and swung it forcefully at Elrond’s chains.
Elrond staggered as the chain split, and then massaged his cramped legs wearily. Then he took the sword from the Prince and broke the chains on his feet. Thranduil held onto his shoulder to support himself as the blood reached his numbed legs.
The moaning began again. Elrond said uncertainly, “It doesn’t sound like the human tongue, come, shall we see?”
Thranduil said grimly, “Take a sword and arm yourself, we cannot take any more follies.”
Elrond obeyed and they went to the back of the dark cave. Thranduil waved a burning log he had taken from the fire to lighten the corners. A shivering slender form lay huddled together in a dark corner emitting soft sounds of pain and helplessness.
Elrond advanced, his healer’s instincts taking over, he knelt down beside the form and lay his hand on the shuddering shoulder.
“Elven,” he murmured with disgust and compassion as he noted the pointed ears and the white hair of the sufferer.
He gently helped the elf to sit up and Thranduil cursed, “Look at his face, and his wounds! Elrond, he is fading!”
Elrond said reprovingly as his patient began sobbing anew, his head bent, “My prince, just break the manacles and help me carry him to the fireside. He is cold. We can then treat his wounds.”
Thranduil muttered something darkly, but complied and then helped Elrond carry the still half-delirious from to the fireside. The Prince then gathered the abandoned blankets, handed one to Elrond, wrapped another over his naked form and then spread the rest over the ground. Elrond laid the elf on the blankets. They tore a blanket into small pieces, dipped them into the water pots in the cave and then bathed the elf gently.
Thranduil dabbed the elf’s dirty face remarking, “he is pleasant enough to look upon without the grime. Noldor, I guess.”
Elrond pointed to the white hair and said smirking, “No Noldor has had white hair. Perhaps Falathrim.”
Thranduil shrugged, “He is gaining consciousness. I will search for herbs and food in these bags left behind by those fools. You keep him company.”
As Thranduil messed about the bags, Elrond watched the elf awake. His mind filled with pity at the haggard, bruised features of the elf’s face. The eyes opened slowly, they were light green, unlike Thranduil’s deep green ones.
“Green eyes,” Elrond remarked to Thranduil, “Definitely Sindarin.”
The rescued elf frowned in confusion and fear on seeing Elrond.
“You are safe,” Elrond said reassuringly, “In elven hands.”
“In half-elven hands,” Thranduil offered sarcastically.
The elf whispered hoarsely, “They sold me?”
“No,” Elrond smiled kindly and raise the scared elf’s head a bit to help him drink water, “we were also caught and managed to escape. We are safe,” he assured the frightened elf again, “safe,” he emphasized.
“This is healing?” Thranduil drawled, “Seems like hypnotizing to me.”
Elrond ignored him and asked the elf he was tending to, “What is your name?”
Thranduil joined him curiously. He wanted to know how the elf had become captured.
The elf looked at the Prince and said wonderingly, “Vanyarin?”
Elrond raised an eyebrow as Thranduil said laughing, “See, Elrond, I bear much likeness to-”
Elrond cut in disgruntled, “No, . ‘Tis but a simple wood-elf,” who can slay men with his words, he reminded himself, never had he seen such power in any elf. Thranduil commanded a power so magnetic and mysterious that even Galadriel dared not cross him.
But now, the said simple wood elf huffed at Elrond’s words and pouted. The other elf smiled weakly at the Prince’s displeasure and said softly, “Lindir, I once served the house of Finarfin.”
Thranduil directed a smug look of victory at Elrond and mouthed, “Noldorin, I told you.”
Elrond set his mouth into a thin line to control his much tried temper and said kindly, “Lindir, I am Elrond, and this is Prince Thranduil, of this realm. You need not fear us.”
“It is the first time in centuries that I have not feared,” Lindir’s admission sent shivers down Elrond’s spine.
“You mean?” Thranduil asked softly, “Were you held for all those years?”
“I was captured by Morgoth’s scouts during the long siege,” Lindor said quietly, his fear and torment clouding his eyes, “And held there until the hosts of the West arrived. Then I was given into the service of the Southrons. They were more vindictive after their defeat. I…I think I have been more dead than alive all these years. Sometimes Morgoth himself was kinder than these men.”
Elrond shuddered as images of torment and despair filled his mind. Thranduil said firmly, “It is over, Lindir, you have survived and escaped. Now you are in the free air again. We will take you to safety. For now, rest and trust us.”
Lindir shivered as he said hesitantly, “I have too vivid memories of abuses physical and mental. I dare not trust even my own shadow.”
Thranduil exchanged a glance with Elrond who said in an assuring voice, “the Prince shall gift us a song. I will guard your dreams, Lindir.”
Lindir still hesitated and then Thranduil placed a sword in his limp hands saying merrily, “Feel free to slay Elrond if either of us betrays your trust.”
Lindir smiled and relaxed slightly. His features softened as he finally felt into a troubled rest lulled by Thranduil’s song, which, to Elrond’s utter mortification, was a bawdy, yet melodious composition that described Elrond’s body in accurate detail. The only saving grace was that it was in the language of the Silvan Folk.
“You deserve to have you tongue chopped off!” he hissed after making sure that Lindir was asleep.
Thranduil shrugged, “What else can you expect a simple wood-elf to sing of?”
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.