15. The Prisoner
Chapter 15 – The Prisoner
The years passed by quickly. Legolas and Rhavaniel grew closer than ever before. It was well known that they were a couple now. All of Mirkwood was buzzing with the news of their Prince finding his Princess. Rhavaniel hadn't given it much thought. Right now she was comfortable with just being in love and not worrying about the future. When the day came that he asked again to bind their souls, she hoped to know her answer. The fact that she was even considering it was a big change for her. There was a time when she would rather have died than become royalty. But she loved Legolas with all of her heart. Maybe by that time, she would not mind settling down in the castle. Maybe Legolas would not mind her fulfilling her warrior needs. She wanted more than anything to one day fight alongside Legolas and feed off of his power. Legolas was an implacable warrior and she was most alive when she fought beside him, which she had experienced much on the practice field but not yet in the real world. She still desired to fight. She still desired to protect the city. She still obeyed her father's wishes and held her court position. But her love for Legolas was enough for now. Rhavaniel was happy at the moment.
* * *
She was just finishing up with her day in court when Legolas came to her. She noticed the look of concern right away. Something must have happened.
"Rhavaniel, I need to speak with you in private. Will you come with me?"
She nodded and followed him to his private practice grounds. They did not speak until they were sure they were alone. "What is it Legolas? What is so important?"
"Do you remember the Ranger I told you about, the one they call Strider?"
"Yes. What about him?"
"He will come with Gandalf the Grey, the wizard. They have captured an enemy unlike any we have ever known of. They ask for our help. Gandalf knows of our dungeons below the castle and asked us to keep him prisoner until they see fit to retrieve him. My father has agreed with this arrangement. I voiced my concern for who would watch over this creature they call Gollum. We both agreed that you should be one of the guards. Antien will be the other. There is no one we trust more. Do you think your father will agree?"
"I don't care if he agrees or not. I will not pass up the opportunity to help our people. Tell me, is this creature dangerous?"
"Actually, he is quite pitiful. I am not sure why he is being held prisoner. He is very thin and deathly looking, but Gandalf says that looks can be deceiving. He knows about a secret weapon of the enemy. Isildur's Bane is said to be found. Something stirs in the deep south, past Rhovanion. I can feel it. The enemy strengthens every day. Mordor is once again on the rise. I fear for what the future holds. I believe this creature holds some kind of information that will be useful later on. Gandalf does not ask for help so easily, but he has chosen Mirkwood in this hour of haste. All we have to do is house Gollum in a private cell until Gandalf and the Ranger return."
Rhavaniel was full of excitement over the secret mission. "When does he arrive?"
"Gandalf is already here and awaits the Ranger Strider who brings the creature. He should be here in a day's time." Legolas answered.
"I will help, but I will not go to my father first. He will not understand. I am tired of this life. I want to be what I was meant to be. It is time for me to come into my own. He cannot keep me from honoring my mother's wishes anymore."
Legolas grabbed her and pulled her close, looking into her blue eyes. "Always wild. That is what I love most about you." Then he brushed his lips across hers and waited for her to react. Rhavaniel wrapped her fingers in his long golden hair and deepened the kiss, tongues swirling wildly. She was an untamed beauty and she was his. "Meet me at our secret place tonight. I want to ravish you from head to toe."
She playfully grabbed his bottom lip in her teeth and pulled. Then she licked the tip of his nose. "I will be there my love."
Since Legolas and Rhavaniel had become intimate, they decided they needed a place where they could go and be totally alone. Legolas built a small talan on the outskirts of the city but not quite as far as the borders. Sometimes when he was on patrol and he found a moment of peace, he would meet her there. Then they could be themselves and enjoy each other's company without prying eyes. Legolas was a prince after all. He was expected to uphold a certain image. They did not keep their togetherness a secret, but they did not act too intimate with each other in public. As far as anyone knew, they were two innocent elves discovering love. But when they were away and alone with each other, their animalistic instincts took over. The way they made love was wild and free. It usually began with a duel of some sort. That was their foreplay. They loved to challenge each other. They hated to lose. Usually the winner worked the hardest to bring the other about and satisfy them first. Rhavaniel still looked forward to the day when she could participate in a real battle with Legolas by her side. That was what she wanted more than anything. Little did she know, she would get her wish all too soon.
* * *
"Gandalf, it is good to see you." Legolas said as he greeted the wizard. "My father has a cell ready. When will the Ranger arrive?"
"He should be here soon. Come, I would like to speak to you and your father. Is he available?," Gandalf asked as Legolas led him to the castle.
"For you, he is available any time." Legolas responded. He led him to his father's study to discuss the plans for the incarceration of the creature.
In the meantime, Rhavaniel took some time away from her courtly duties to concentrate on helping Legolas. She wore her guardsman uniform, which she had kept hidden from her father, and was headed for the dungeons. Antien met her on the way and they walked together.
Her best friend looked her over carefully. "So when are you and Legolas going to take the next step? It seems only natural that you will marry our Prince."
"Antien, whatever gives you that idea. Legolas and I are… we are…"
Antien interrupted her. "You are madly in love with each other and are hiding your deeper relationship from everyone."
"Sweet Eru! Is it that obvious?," she said worried.
"Only to one who's perception is heightened as mine is. I can tell by the sparkle in your eyes that you are in love. I can tell by the way you carry yourself that you have already consummated the relationship. Don't worry, your secret is safe with me. I think it is wonderful that you two have finally given in to your feelings for each other. That was where all the animosity came from when you were younger. You have always loved him, even when you hated him. It was only a matter of time."
"You know me better than I know myself mellon. Well, I cannot deny my feelings for Legolas. He is absolutely wonderful in every way. But the one thing I want most of all is to get away from this monotonous court life and become a true warrior. I have never given up on this. I still practice and Legolas mentors me to keep me sharp. It is my father that holds me back. He is so fearful that something will happen to me. I do not want to displease him. He is so happy with my current situation, especially my relationship with Legolas. This is the only thing I am not sure of Antien. Should the day come and Legolas asks me to bind to him, I will become the Princess of Mirkwood. The title alone makes me want to choke. I don't want that responsibility. I want to be a warrior. I want to fight. I want to get my hands dirty. I don't want to be prim and proper, a good little elleth who listens to her hervenn and obeys his every command." Here, she scrunched up her nose. "Agh. I could not be happy with this role. But I am deeply in love with Legolas, so much so that I would consider going against everything I hold out hope for.
"Well, it seems you are taking your first step now. I am surprised to see you here. It must have been very difficult for your father to let you come here." Antien looked at Rhavaniel who looked at the ground. "You did not get permission from your father did you?"
"He would never let me do this. You know that. I figured since I did not need to leave the castle, I could manage to sneak away and help out. Besides, how dangerous can this be? We are only guarding a prisoner. We are not fighting."
* * *
The Ranger arrived just as Gandalf said with the creature Gollum. He was taken straight to the cell in the dungeon. Rhavaniel and Antien helped to get him situated. Though Mirkwood's prison cells were hidden deep below the castle in the damp darkness of the feel of a cave, the prisoners were well taken care of. Comfortable beds with blankets and pillows were available and three hot meals were offered. Elves were not cruel to anyone but those who attacked at the borders.
Rhavaniel and Antien did their duty quite well and even got to know the strange prisoner. They thought he was the oddest creature they ever met for he seemed to have a duel personality. It was when he referred to himself as Sméagol that they felt at ease speaking with him. He told them nothing of the One Ring or why he was captured in the first place, but he rather enjoyed riddles and the elves entertained him this way.
In the meantime, Legolas spent time with Gandalf and Strider while they visited Mirkwood. The Prince felt a connection with the Ranger, who eventually told him of his heritage. Strider turned out to be none other than Isildur's heir, Aragorn son of Arathorn. Legolas had known that the rightful heir of Gondor would one day surface. A bond of trust and friendship developed between Man and Elf. Legolas felt they would be friends for a very long time.
* * *
Gollum had been housed deep in Mirkwood for many months now. Rhavaniel managed to keep her shift as a guard a secret from her father. It was not difficult as he was away performing his own duties at the borders most of the time.
On this particular day, she and Antien got into a conversation about the prisoner. They pitied him as they noticed how sickly he seemed. They felt no threat from him and thought it was not fair to keep him locked away. In the past, they had let prisoners roam the grounds above, as long as they were always guarded. There had never been a problem before and they did not foresee one with Gollum. Rhavaniel discussed this with Legolas who agreed. They did not want to be cruel and decided to take Gollum outside. He was so weak and helpless; surely he would not even try to escape.
Still, Gandalf's warning about the creature being sly was in the backs of their heads. They decided to take Gollum to a place where a lone tree stood. He seemed to like to climb the tree and they could guard him easily this way. The arrangement seemed to work out the first few times they tried it. Unfortunately, it was not Gollum they had to worry about.
Legolas was with Rhavaniel on this particular day. Gollum was up in his tree. Antien was speaking with two other guards. The elves noticed that today seemed a little darker than normal. They thought a storm might be rolling in and decided to take Gollum back early. This time, he refused to come down from the tree. He said he sensed danger closing in and did not trust the elves. As one of the elves was arguing with him to get him to come down, he was suddenly struck in the arm with an arrow. Legolas saw the black fletching and yelled to the others. "Orcs! Grab your weapons. We are under attack."
A group of orcs approached them. The elves were taken off guard. They fought, firing many arrows and slaying a few enemies but they were outnumbered. Rhavaniel fired her bow alongside Legolas. They fed off of each other's energy. Finally, she got her wish. The excitement of the battle powered her. Every arrow met its mark.
"I've killed five Legolas." she boasted as she made a game out of it.
"I have one more than you." he laughed. "So you like to keep count do you?"
"May the best elleth win." she teased.
More orcs were coming in closer. Soon their bows would not be enough. Rhavaniel worried for she only had her short dagger and she did not want to get that close to the enemy. She looked over at Legolas who stabbed an orc in the neck with an arrow, pulled it out and fired the same arrow at another orc. The way he fought was beautiful, if there was such a thing. Every move he made was like watching a well performed dance. This was what she loved about him. He was a fierce warrior.
She only let her guard down for a moment when she noticed a rather large orc about to approach her, weapon raised over its ugly head. Killing goblins was one thing, but an orcs hide was much thicker. She knew her short dagger would not suffice. "Legolas." she yelled. "Throw me one of your long knives."
Legolas turned to see the orc closing in on her. He reached for one of the white knives and threw it. It whizzed past Rhavaniel and landed in the chest of the orc, killing him instantly. Rhavaniel glanced at Legolas with slanted eyes. "That was not fair. He was mine."
"You have your knife now at least." Legolas laughed knowing he was besting her in the tally of slain orcs.
Rhavaniel pulled the long knife from the chest of the dead orc. She quickly examined the intricate detail of Legolas' weapon. It was quite a beautiful weapon. What a shame to defile it with nasty black orc blood she thought to herself.
The fighting went on for some time. Still, the orcs kept coming. Soon the elves' arrows were spent. They were about to be outnumbered when it finally happened. Rhavaniel was about to bring her knife down on another orc when she felt a burning pain in her side. She looked down to see an arrow protruding from her. Instantly in shock, she looked around. The pain was overpowering. She weakened immediately. "Legolas." she tried to yell out but she could not find her voice. She fell to her knees and watched as the scene around her went into slow motion.
She looked over to the tree and saw some orcs grabbing for Gollum. He was yelling for help but no one would answer. The fear upon his face was something she would never forget. Though he was scared of the elves and did not care much for them, the sight of the orcs coming to take him away was a worse fate. They would take him to the enemy, the One, the Dark Lord. It suddenly dawned on her why the orcs attacked. They were after the creature. He held some kind of important information on the whereabouts of the weapon. Why did they ever let Gollum out of his cell? They were not just keeping him prisoner, they were keeping him safe. They were not guarding him but rather protecting him. Now they had failed their mission.
Rhavaniel's world started to fade around her as the pain was too great. Then suddenly she felt her body being supported. She looked up to find Legolas kneeling behind her, holding her upper body against his chest. They looked deep into each other's eyes.
"Hold on Rhavaniel. We must get you to the healers. Please don't leave me. I need you. I love you." There was a tear threatening the corner of his eye.
Rhavaniel reached up and wiped it away before it fell down his face. "You will not show this weakness Thranduilion. Protect the others. Get them to safety. Watch for Antien also." She could only manage to whisper this to him and then her world went black.
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.