7. The Darkness Within
Thanks to Anarithilen for betaing this and making it so much better
Especially for Scarlett10 - hope this is updating quick enough for you! And to lovely Curiouswombat who ALWAYS reviews.
Chapter 7: The darkness within.
Legolas became aware of a sensation of rocking, as if in a cradle or his mother's arms. He felt a warmth envelope him, a pale warmth, like a late Summer evening sun. His shoulder ached, and his fingers felt numb. And he heard a song that wound about his heart. He could not forget… he had not recognised until now… it was the song he had almost heard all this time riding through the Lebennin and to the Anduin. Like a silk scarf on a breeze it lay across his dream. He opened his eyes and saw grey eyes lost in trance, lips parted and long black hair, so black it seemed there were blue lights… he drifted again, feeling the gentle rhythm of the waves as he rocked and felt himself held, cradled in the song's embrace…he drifted again, into sleep where there was no pain….
He could not say why, but the new captain of the newly christened Sea Song had given the order to pull along the shoreline, and he had taken the spyglass from the previous captain's cabin and even now, he squinted at the shore. He felt an urge, a need to do this. He just knew he had to be right here.
Hope had been ignited in his heart with his newfound freedom, and Nestor, for he it was, had quickly been acclaimed as captain by his new crew. They had set sail for Pelargir as bidden by the Lord Aragorn, hoping to find the bright-haired Elf who had rescued them and to aid him. But the wind had been against them and even with freed men they had not made good time. Already the battle had burned itself out it seemed. But… something indefinable... some strange feeling had made Nestor feel he had to be here… right here, at this moment.
Screwing up his eye, Nestor looked again through the spyglass and gazed along the shoreline. The silver-black water lapped at the pebble beach and amazingly, he could see a sandpiper picking its way through the driftwood. It carried on its daily business as if there was nothing unusual about the storm-laden sky, the ship that burned near the shore, the pounding of war. It just pecked about here and there, digging in and pulling at the mud along the river's edge. He was just about to pull away when he saw them.
A tall black horse stood waiting, knee-deep in the silver-black water, its long tail caught in the tide and floating away behind it. It bore two riders; one with long hair as dark as the river water under the twilight sky. His sword was drawn and flashed silver, gleaming with blood both red and black. And before him he held the Elf with hair the colour of golden coins, the one who had leaped ten feet into the hold without a stumble and in less than a blink of the eye, had picked the locks that they had strained to pick and break for months. But now his strange green eyes were closed and his long golden hair streamed over his shoulder. His tunic was soaked in blood.
Nestor gasped and stared again.
'Quick! Anor! Up here,' he called. Squinting again, he saw the black rider had not moved. He stood still, as if carved, gazing at the ship, at him, as if he were waiting for Nestor.
'Look! It is our Lord, Legolas!' Nestor called as Anor came running up the short steps to the foredeck.
'Ho there!' Anor cupped his hands round his mouth and called aloud to the riders. 'My lords!'
Nestor was already leaping down the steps to the deck. The big Man grasped the rigging and pulled himself up onto the edge of the small boat they had for going ashore. 'Quick! Lower the rig. The Lord Legolas has been injured! Quickly. Lower the rig.'
Swiftly the small boat was pushed over the side and ropes lowered it until it plashed gently onto the silver black water. Nestor and Anor grabbed the oars and with tremendous pulls they steered the boat to the shore where the horse and its riders waited.
Nestor leaped from the boat into the shallows and began sloshing his way to the horse. He looked up at the rider, whose long black hair caught for a moment on a breeze. The warrior looked down with flint-grey eyes.
Nestor did not flinch. 'We will take him to safety my lord,' he assured the silent rider and reached out to take the injured Elf.
But the rider tightened his grip and he looked fiercely for a long moment at the Elf he held against him, seeming to search his face for something. Almost reluctantly, he slid the Elf from his horse and into Nestor's waiting arms.
'Hold him,' said the dark rider. His voice was low and deep and Nestor never thought to question him. Then he too slid from his horse and his cloak seemed to float lightly on the water, it gleamed silver grey now not black. The warrior was tall, taller even than Nestor and he recognised the warrior then as the other Elf who had released Nestor and his friends. The dark Elf knight spoke softly to the horse which turned away and pushed its way through the water to the shore. It emerged sleek black, wet and nosed about in what little grass there was.
Nestor held the wounded Elf lightly, gently in case he should give him any pain. And he stared down at the still face. The Elf's eyes were closed and he frowned in pain. A squeeze began in Nestor's heart, for he could not bear that the one who had rescued them from their lifetime of slavery or horrible death on the slave ships should himself be in danger. He lifted his heavy, clumsy hand to the Elf's face and stroked a tendril of hair from his cheek. 'I swear to you, my lord, I will do whatever is in my power to help you,' he whispered, but there was blood on his own tunic from where he held Legolas.
A hand fell heavily on Nestor's shoulder and the dark warrior took Legolas from him possessively.
The Men murmured in concern as the strange dark Elf lowered Legolas into the rig. A few strokes of the oars on silver-black water and eager willing hands were there to help get Legolas onto the ship. Anor gasped in horror at the slender arrow that pierced the Elf's shoulder. He touched Nestor's tunic where there was blood.
The dark rider was barely courteous. He ignored them all and their concerned questions and carried Legolas below deck. He shoved open first one door and then peered inside, then another until he found what had been the ship healer's cabin.
He placed Legolas carefully down on the only bed on the ship. It took up most of the cabin. The Elf then took the hastily brought ewer of hot water from the red-faced cabin boy, and then pushed the door shut in their faces.
Nestor stood for moment uncertainly until Anor said cheerfully, 'We want him to do whatever he needs for our friend. Let him get on with it. He is an Elf too by the look and none of us know what to do.'
They looked at each other and then as one, pressed themselves against the wooden door, listening.
They heard movement, the sound of doors being opened and shut- the small cabinet, Nestor guessed. Glass clinked and then a clatter of metal. Then soft murmurs and a long silence.
'What is he doing do you think?' Anor asked anxiously.
They pressed their ears back against the door and Nestor saw the frown of concentration on Anor's face. He smiled to himself for he had grown fond of his companion. They had endured so much together and now here they were, eavesdropping on an Elf warrior, of all things. He did not feel guilty- he was not ready to abandon their bright champion to this other strange Elf for Nestor had felt uneasy at the blank, fierce expression on the dark Elf's face. But they could not in truth stay here forever, pressed against the door. Nestor admitted to himself he would not wish to face the dark Elf's wrath should he find them, so instead he seated himself comfortably on the floor outside the cabin, leaning against the thin partition ready to spring to his saviour's rescue should he so much as cry out. Anor looked at him for a moment and then smiled.
'I will bring you a mug of that good wine the corsairs had, and we can take turns,' he said. Nestor nodded and settled himself as he crossed his arms over his broad chest.
Elrohir looked at the Mirkwood Elf laid out before him. His pale gold hair was tousled and mussed, spread around him. Lips parted and cheeks flushed. He lay on one side so the arrow did not press against him. His eyes were now open but unfocused, seeing something that was not before him… gulls rising on the breeze perhaps? Waves lapping at the hull of a grey ship…?
Elrohir took a breath and looked about him. He had chosen the ship's healer's cabin. It was fastidiously neat and clean. He had been relieved to find glass bottles of gold, crimson and emerald green standing in a row; distillations of athelas, uilos and sere-vanda, which would make Legolas sleep. Elrohir drifted over to the row of bottles and opened a small cabinet. More glass bottles were clustered within, and scissors, scalpels, a variety of sharp gleaming steel instruments. These belonged to a man who knew his work.
He leaned down and peered into the cabinet once more, staring at the labels on the bottles. The script was Haradrim and Elrohir could not decipher it so he carefully pulled one out, rich amber liquid swirled in the blown glass bottle. He lifted the stopper and sniffed the potion within. He nodded to himself. Ortire. Good. He placed the bottle on top of the cabinet with the first three that were already there. He spread out three scalpels, and needles and suture. He laid a wad of linen nearby and then he turned back to Legolas. The big Man they had freed and who had come to his aid, had thoughtfully left an oil lamp, and it rested on a small shelf, casting a warm yellow light around the small cabin.
The Elf lay still on his side and the slender shaft protruded from the back of his shoulder at an awkward angle, already broken off as far as Elrohir dared. But it was the blood that spread slowly over the front of his tunic that arrested Elrohir and frightened him.
Elrohir gently took hold of the end of the now jagged shaft and tested its weight and angle. He prised open the tear in the fabric, to better see the edges of the wound, swollen and red. He pressed his finger lightly around the flesh and the skin, the blood, the shaft of the arrow. No splinters. No poison. A clean wound. But he had seen similar and the arrow head might be serrated or barbed. He would need help to draw the arrow, someone to hold Legolas still.
Satisfied that he knew the extent of this first injury, he unbuckled Legolas' belt and began to pull the tunic gently open. He needed to see the second injury, on his chest. Elrond's son slid the moss-suede tunic first from one shoulder and then, holding the Elf gently against his chest, he slid the tunic over the broken arrow shaft until it fell around Legolas' waist. Quickly he pulled it away and threw it onto the floor. Holding the wounded archer, he registered in some other part of his mind the hard muscles of that lean body, the colourful swirls and abstracts painted on his shoulder and that trailed over his chest. With his knife he cut away at the blood soaked linen shirt and began to peel it from Legolas' skin. It was this blood that oozed slowly, spreading over the Elf's chest that worried him.
As he peeled away the bloody fabric, he saw with a shock that the blood was not from the arrow - it was an older wound and had been dressed. He recognised Aragorn's careful tiny stitches. This was the wound Elrohir himself had inflicted. He stood back and stared. It had torn open and the long thin scar now oozed a rich red blood. He let out a small cry and grabbed a wad of linen.
Even now some part of him stood back and watched, absorbed utterly by the red gash oozing blood that dripped steadily, watched the better part of him frantically staunch the wound, pressing a wad of linen against the Elf's chest. He watched as the blood slowed and slowed, the linen turning from white to red. And that other part of him that watched, fascinated, stirred, and a dark lust raised its head like a predator within him.
Nestor whittled a piece of wood into a whistle and had just raised it experimentally to his lips when the door burst open and the dark Elf loomed in the doorway. Nestor looked up startled.
'One of you. In here. I will need you to hold him,' the Elf warrior commanded him and at once, Nestor leapt to his feet to obey. The Elf whirled away back into the cabin, and Nestor shouted up through the hold.
He did not wait but quickly followed the Elf into the cabin and stopped.
His bright-haired Elf, Legolas, lay on his side, his long hair swept over his shoulder and bright swirls of colour tattooed on his skin. Nestor was taken aback for he had not imagined that Elves might do as Men. But these were beautiful, elegant swirls and abstracts, delicate lines and patterns he could not understand, and seemed to enhance not obscure the skin.
'Have you had any experience of this?' the dark Elf was asking, and scrubbing his hands with the hot water and soap the cabin boy had left earlier.
Nestor looked curiously around the cabin; he had never been in here before. This had been the healer's cabin for the Corsair pirates, a Haradrim Man, small, neat, quiet. He had been kind to Nestor each time Nestor had been lashed and even once he had stopped it. Above the cabinet was a small mirror and razor. Nestor wondered what had happened to him.
The strange dark Elf nodded toward a crimson bottle sitting on a near table and Nestor guessed he meant to open it. He pulled out the stopper. Immediately a harsh astringent stung his eyes and he squinted at the dark Elf who held his hands over the ewer and indicated he wished Nestor to pour the liquid over his hands. Nestor's eyes stung even more as the crimson liquid spilled over the Elf's hands but it seemed not to bother the Elf at all so Nestor thought he must be an experienced healer as well as warrior. Nestor put the bottle down and wiped his eyes for they streamed like he had been peeling onions.
He could not see what the Elf healer did next but he heard Legolas gasp and cry out. Nestor started but the other Elf placed his hand near Legolas wounded shoulder, and murmured softly to him, turning and replacing the red bottle and selecting the emerald one in its stead. Nestor heard the Elf say quietly 'sere-vanda' and as he poured the emerald liquid onto a pad of white linen, it seemed to glow for a moment. He held it to Legolas' mouth lightly so the Elf breathed in the emerald vapour and he sighed and relaxed and his shoulders dropped. He slept.
The Elf turned to Nestor then and said 'Hold this over his mouth and nose if he starts to wake. It will help him to sleep.' His grey eyes held Nestor's for a moment and then he said in his low rich voice,' Sere-vanda. It is the Path to Rest. It will calm him through the pain that I have to inflict. You will have to hold him still.'
The Elf turned away and took a silver scalpel from the cabinet. He tested the edge with his finger and nodded to himself. He indicated again the crimson bottle and this time, Nestor knew what to do. He poured the liquid over the scalpel this time as the Elf held it over the bowl. 'Are you used to this, Captain?'
Nestor was startled at first, unused to hearing himself addressed as Captain, for all his crew called him Nestor still. He looked carefully at the healer before him, his fine tunic black as night but silver thread embroidered a strangely familiar emblem, stars and ships. His hands though, were a warrior's, hardened by riding and fighting. He wore a strange silver ring on his forefinger. A dark gem flashed in the setting.
'Aye. I am a farmer and fisherman.' he answered, still staring. 'I am used to mending cuts and injuries from ploughs, and at sea there are always accidents. I have recently become more used to injuries from swords.' He chanced an impudent grin that was not returned.
The Elf may not have smiled but he had not snarled either, Nestor thought.
'I need you to hold him still. This is going to hurt.'
Nestor nodded and put his hands gently on Legolas' good shoulder.
'Hold his legs. And if you feel him coming round, remember to hold this over his nose and mouth. I do not want to be kicked while I am drawing the arrow. Are you ready?'
Hardly pausing, the Elf inserted the scalpel into the wound and slid it deeply around the arrow head. Legolas stirred and moaned softly. The dark Elf paused and looked at his face briefly before Nestor pressed the pad of linen against the Legolas' nose and mouth and he struggled briefly before sighing and settling once more.
Almost immediately the took another breath and pulled hard, steadily and Legolas thrashed his limbs. Eyes opened wildly and he tried to lash out at Nestor but the Man had the advantage and subdued him. He quickly held the pad over his nose and mouth until he subsided once more.
'Trouble is it doesn't last long,' the healer-warrior muttered. 'I need a stronger distillation.' He looked up. 'One more go. Ready?'
Nestor watched carefully, aware of the leashed power in these Elves. Muscles bunched as the dark Elf pulled and slowly, slowly the arrow head came away, clots of blood clinging to what remained of the shaft. Nestor held the wad close to Legolas face, anxiously watching first the dark Elf draw the arrow, and then the pale Legolas for any sign of distress.
The dark Elf stared at the bloody arrow head for a moment, as if fascinated. The with a cry of disgust he threw it away from him.
He turned to Nestor, and Nestor almost recoiled at the turmoil in his eyes. Disgust and terror and …something else. If he did not know better he would say desire. But that could not be.
Legolas seemed to drift in and out of consciousness, his strange eyes pupils wide and dilated more than any Man's would be. Like a cat, thought Nestor. The iris was green, but a strange shifting green- sometimes grey sometimes blue, then green… a thin line of colour around the wide black pupil… he wasn't like the other Elf, whose hands were deft and careful, making precise tiny movements so the stitches could hardly be seen.
Nestor stroked the wheat-pale hair back from Legolas' face and smiled reassuringly at the wounded Elf whose alien eyes had widened and stared at him. 'Yes, it is Nestor, your old friend my lord Legolas. I have come to repay you in a small way your great kindliness.' He patted the Elf's hand kindly, feeling it clench and the hot sweat on his palm.
'Te naegra…' Legolas murmured, 'Gaear-maew...'
'What is he saying?' asked Nestor with concern, his eyes wide and fixed on the Elf's pale face. The dark Elf paused for a moment and then rested his hand against the other's forehead.
'Posto mae,' he whispered and he leaned in close to the other. He seemed to breathe softly over the wounded Elf until Legolas closed his eyes and then he breathed in deeply and settled. He slept.
'Pour some of the gold liquid into this water.' The dark Elf indicated one of the glass bottles on the cabinet. Nestor turned and obeyed instinctively. Lifting the glass stopper he realised how beautiful these blown glass bottles were. The light from the oil lamp shone through the golden liquid and as he began to pour, a fragrance suffused the air. He suddenly felt his heart ease and he thought of home, and meadows full of spring flowers… his wife running to greet him…
Nestor stared for a moment and then dipped a cloth in the water and squeezed it out. Then he stroked the cool cloth over Legolas' face. And realised he too had tears in his eyes.
The dark Elf leaned back and finished stitching the wound. He wiped his face on his sleeve and smiled gently at the big Man with him.
'He is safe now.'
'You brought him to us,' Nestor said simply. He knew he had been called somehow. He had not just chanced to be near the shore, but had heard some strange ancient call in his heart and been where he was needed most. He was glad.
'Yes.' The dark Elf glanced about the small cabin with its creaking wooden timbers and the clean scrubbed floor. 'He needs to be on the water now... It will soothe him to be here and not to be away from it. It will sing to his soul as he desires… And for the moment, that is enough.'
Elrohir closed the door. Alone now with the Mirkwood Elf, he turned and looked. Legolas' eyes were closed and his face was slightly flushed, but from sleep now, not fever or pain. His lips were parted. Across his chest, a white linen bandage. His strong archer's arms were crossed, one in a sling and the other holding the wounded arm protectively. Elrohir looked at him… curiously he reached a tentative finger and touched his long hair… It was nothing like he expected. Heavier. Not silk, not corn, not as yellow… more like the pale bleached grass that grew amongst the dunes of Belfalas, or the pale gold of wheat. And thicker.
Light from the oil lamp bathed Legolas in its golden glow. Elrohir stared, unaware of his hunger …The lips were not gentle but sensuous and full, and his strong face was more sculpted, not soft… in fact there was nothing soft about this Elf. Lightly Elrohir stroked his finger across the collar-bone and brushed the edge of the wound, down the lean muscled chest. It was an archer's shoulders, arms, chest, nothing soft or weak. Here were the symbols of his house. Elrohir traced them with his finger. And here was his name in runes, Laeglas, and the elegant patterns of oak and ash and beech. In green and gold, the runes on his arms melted into the swirl of colour that was his warrior's history… there the sign of the battles he had fought at Dol Guldur, and there, the dragon to show that he had fought at Erebor. Elrohir's finger gradually slowed until it paused above the dragon… and watched how it swirled onto the shoulder and disappeared. He wondered how far down it went, and then stopped.
He looked again at the parted lips and the warm skin. He lightly touched the sleeping Elf's shoulder, traced the swirl to his nipple and tightened his grip suddenly. The Elf whimpered and arched slightly. Elrohir stared, his finger still tight on the nipple, his gaze stroking from the muscled, lean chest, the swirl of colour. A white scar lined his stomach from an older wound; it was not completely healed. Not yet. Recent, Elrohir mused, and he wondered when it had been taken. Letting himself believe the lie of his intentions, he stroked it with healing energy but the touch became a caress. His eyes traced the light gold down that began at his navel and disappeared below the white linen sheet.
Elrohir took a breath. He rested his hand lightly over the other's navel but considered more…
Legolas murmured something Elrohir did not quite catch but it gave him reason to pause. He had not realised how strong, how beautiful Legolas was. How much he felt the surge of desire and appreciation for him.
A memory flashed into his mind… of Legolas fighting off the Orcs that surrounded him, the thrust and flash of the silver knives, the wild battle cry, the exhilaration he felt in the fight that Elrohir knew in his own blood and bones… And he wondered what it would be like to have this Elf. No quiet caress or gentle touch would be found here but instead something wild, passionate, full of fire and aggression.
Elrohir felt his ache and closed his eyes. His hands ghosted over himself and he thrummed at his own touch, panting he looked again at the Elf spread below him…his own hand moved up and down, stroking his own burgeoning length. He found himself leaning over the Elf, his own mouth open and his desire hard and strong in his own hand.
He leaned in and Legolas' breath was warm on his own lips. It began with only a trace of a kiss, a light stroke of his tongue against the warm mouth. And when he felt the muted, drowsy response he pressed his tongue against those parted lips, and before he knew it, he had pushed his own hard, demanding sex against the warm skin…his fingers pinched and teased the peaked nipples, palms flat against the lean chest and belly, moved lower until he had cupped Legolas in his own hand and squeezed through the suede breeches. Then as the other Elf's sex began to bulge, he squeezed harder, painfully and although Legolas's length filled quickly, the Wood Elf whimpered …
Elrohir stared hungrily at the Elf spread before him, flushed cheeks, lips parted, eyelashes dark against his skin, long pale hair mussed and tangled, and the long, lean body …that dark desire that had raised its predatory head earlier now seized Elrohir completely. He suddenly dragged Legolas' hair into his fist and pulled his head back so his throat was exposed and Elrohir pressed his hot mouth against the other Elf's throat, pushed open his lips to wrestle with his tongue. When the Mirkwood Elf seemed to start and struggle, Elrohir blindly groped for the wad of linen and sere-vanda and pushed it against his nose and mouth until he ceased struggling and lapsed back into sleep.
A dreadful memory surged in Elrohir's mind and quickly submerged once more… he pushed it away and instead, his fingers tugged at the laces of his own breeches, eyes fastened on the Mirkwood Elf's closed eyes, his chest rising and falling rhythmically, the swirl of colour and abstract that circled his nipples and then the dragon that curved away over his shoulder and slid down to his hip …Elrohir pushed the Elf's unconscious body with no care for the bandaged arm and shoulder. He rested the Wood Elf on his front and stared at the dragon that slid from his hip to disappear below the waistband of his breeches. Suddenly Elrohir had his knife in his hand and there was the sound of tearing cloth. He tore the fabric away with trembling, frantic hands and gazed. The dragon coiled around his thigh… his thigh… ELrohir traced the pattern, his breath hot and fast. With a groan, he leaned over and covered the Mirkwood Elf's body with his own. The Wood Elf whimpered quietly in the hot darkness and suddenly he stopped. There was a stickiness on his thigh and the smell of his own musk… the smell…
He pulled back, eyes wide and staggered away from the bed. He was sweating. Panting like some Orc. Legolas whimpered again and his body arched slightly. He stepped back again, licked his lips and rubbed his hot hands on his tunic. That quiet whimper in suffocating darkness, lamplight, torchlight spilling onto such bruised flesh…the smell… the smell upon his thighs… her thighs… He felt bile surge through his throat.
When had he stood and swept off the sheet? When had he leaned over the bed in this predatory way? When had he started touching himself? And when had he ripped the clothes from this unconscious Elf and pressed himself, his hard sex, against the vulnerable flesh of this warrior, this Elf he said he despised?
Again. It was happening again. It had happened before. Once. That time he had lost himself utterly. And he had returned home in abject misery and self loathing. He shook his head and leaned over the basin still with a lingering fragrance of athelas. his own reflection trembled on the surface of the water and he pushed himself away with a cry of loathing and fear.
'Te naegra…Gaear-maew.' - 'It hurts…The song of the gulls.' (I am sure the cases are not correct - but as Legolas is rather dopey he may have got his grammar muddled up - if anyone wants to correct, feel free!)
'Posto am' - 'Rest now.' (meaning repose rather than stop.)
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.