Categories > Books > Lord of the Rings > Exiled

Exiled II

by Elizabeth_Goode 0 reviews

What will happen when Elrond discovers Arwen and Estel's love? Will father and son be reconciled?

Category: Lord of the Rings - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Angst, Drama - Characters: Aragorn, Elrond, Gandalf, Legolas, Other - Warnings: [V] - Published: 2006-06-23 - Updated: 2006-06-23 - 2519 words

Legolas broke camp before dawn, getting rid of every trace that anyone had been there. He did not wish to risk being tracked by the orcs. He glanced at Estel, who still lay on the ground beneath Legolas' cloak. Waking the young Ranger was the last thing he wanted to do, but there was no choice. Kneeling down beside his friend, he gently brushed straggling dark hair away from his eyes.

"I am sorry, my friend. We must leave this place, or risk being found. The orcs will have noticed you missing by now."

With absolutely no warning, Estel sat bolt upright, his eyes filled with desperation and uncertainty. Before Legolas could say or do anything, Estel was on his feet. The young human swayed precariously but did not fall.

Slowly, the uncertainty changed to recognition, and Legolas felt his heart breaking as his friend reached out to him, then winced as his injured arm protested. "L-Legolas?"

Closing the distance between himself and his friend, the elf-prince caught him in a gentle embrace. "Yes, it is Legolas. You are safe now."

Estel's strength waned and his legs trembled beneath him. Legolas eased him down to the ground.

"It hurts." Estel grimaced in pain, hissing as his back came into contact with Legolas' shoulder. "A lot." His voice was hoarse, and he brought his good hand up to massage his bruised throat.

Legolas shifted to make the Ranger more comfortable. "We cannot linger for long. We must get you - " The elf stopped. He had been about to say that he must get Estel home, to Rivendell, where Lord Elrond would heal his wounds and his fever. That was now impossibility. He finished lamely, "We must get you to a healer."

"Peace, Legolas. You said nothing wrong. I am assuming that you stopped in Rivendell, and you know that I am no longer welcome there."

The prince of Mirkwood nodded. "I arrived the eve of the day that you left. Your father has made a terrible mistake, Estel. He will come to regret the things he did and said. Elladan and Elrohir were quite angry as well."

"It is their right. Their sister is above me. I crossed a line that cannot be uncrossed."

"They are angry with Lord Elrond for sending you away, not with you. When I found out that you had been sent away injured, I rode after you. I tracked you to the inn, or what was left of it, and was informed that the orcs had taken you. I tracked them and stole you back."

Estel smiled faintly. "For that I thank you. The orcs would have killed me, and Ugblood, their leader, seemed determined to take his time in doing so."

The prince of Mirkwood stood and went to his pack, rummaging around. When he turned around, he offered a grim smile. "You might not want to thank me just yet. We're going to have to ride, Estel. I must clean your wounds and bind them so that the pace of travel does not cause you to worsen. It will hurt."

"It already hurts. Do your worst, elf. This human will do his part and not fight you."

Legolas knew that Estel's dry wit was his mechanism for coping with unpleasantness, but any sign of good humor was welcome to his ears after the long night. Carefully, gently, Legolas washed the wounds on Estel's back, and then placed one of his extra tunics against the wounds to pad it before binding it with strips of cloth torn from the remains of Estel's shirt. He then washed the cut on his face, frowning in concern.

"Estel. What caused this wound?"

Flashes of pain, shouting, and cruel orc laughter played through his mind. He felt the whip cutting into his skin, felt boots and fists connecting with his face and chest ...

A whimper, nearly inaudible, escaped his lips as the last several days caught up with him full force. Always before if he was injured, his father cared for his wounds. Sitting on the hard, cold ground with Legolas doing his best to be gentle was such a sharp contrast to lying in a soft bed in Rivendell under the expert care of his - of Lord Elrond - that the whimper was followed by a gasp.

"Estel, I know you have been through a great deal, but I must know what caused this wound. It looks deep, and will probably require stitches."

Through the fog of memories, Estel replied with a shudder. "Knife. Ugblood did it with his knife when I would not tell him - " He stopped, an expression of panic in his eyes. "Rivendell! Legolas, we have to warn Rivendell! The orcs, they wanted me to give away the location, but I would not. That's why they - they beat me. Though, I believe they would have done so anyway."

Legolas shook his head. "No. You told them nothing, and you have to see a healer, Estel. That is not optional. I find it difficult to believe that you have any blood left at all."

Estel shook his head stubbornly, getting shakily to his feet with such a look of determination on his face that Legolas knew that there would be no use in going against him. "The orcs are too near to Rivendell for my ease. Even if they cannot find the entrance, what if my brothers encounter them while out for a hunt? What if Arwen - " The young human shivered. "I will not allow Arwen to suffer her mother's fate. It would kill fa - I mean, it would kill her father."

The prince of Mirkwood tried to be the voice of reason one last time. "My friend, your brothers have killed more orc than any other beings on Middle Earth. They will not be taken by surprise, and they will protect their sister. There is time for me to take you to a village and ride back to Rivendell myself. I will hunt them with your brothers, and they will be dead before three nights fall."

Estel shook his head. "No. My actions of late have caused Lord Elrond much grief. When we last had words, he spoke of having fulfilled his duty to me and having hope that I would someday do mine. If I know that orcs move ever closer to Rivendell and do nothing to stop them, I cannot live with myself, Legolas. Do you understand?"

The elf nodded. "I understand. Estel, can you even use your sword arm? What good will you be able to do if you cannot wield your sword or your bow?"

Using his good hand to undo the sling, Estel used the cloth to bind tightly the place where the bone had been broken. He took the sword that Legolas offered and took several practice slashes at the air. Unbidden tears sprang into his eyes as the motion pulled his lacerated back and streaks of pain shot through his arm. As if to scream defiance to his wounds, he repeated the exercise. "Let's hunt some orc!"

Legolas stood in awe of his friend. He was wounded and not lightly, his eyes shone with a feverish light, and he was grimly determined to fight for the safety of a place from which he had very recently been exiled. It was very little wonder that this man would one day be a leader of all men. If, Legolas thought, he did not die of his fevered wounds before then.

Arwen rode at the front of the party between her brothers. They had insisted that she remain between them for her protection, and she had granted their request. It would be foolish to ignore their advice when they had killed thousands of orc and she had herself only killed one, and that one from a great distance with her bow.

"Elladan? Why have we stopped?" Arwen frowned as Elrohir sprang down to the ground from his horse, running toward a small clearing.

"This is an orc campsite. Stay near us, Arwen." Elladan followed his brother, keeping a sharp eye out for trouble, and Arwen stayed close to him.

A campfire still smoked when prodded, so it had not been long since the orcs had left. As near as Elrohir could reckon, they were only a day's ride away from Rivendell. Too close, he thought as he searched the site for any clues. His firstborn senses as well as the skills learned from many years travel with the Dunedain allowed him to read the many footprints like a map. He could even see in his head a picture of what had been going on in the camp, and when he ran across a set of footprints that were decidedly un- orc, he felt his heart tighten in his chest. The trail of footprints was broken every now and then by what appeared to be drag marks. His mind's eye saw Estel staggering along between two orcs, his hands bound before him. When the young human fell, the orcs dragged him mercilessly along until he could manage to get his feet under him again.

"Elrohir!" The sound of his brother's voice forced him to come out of the nightmare that played in his mind.

"What is it, Elladan? I think I've found Estel's trail..." He stopped when he realized that Elladan and Arwen stood staring at something on the other side of the camp. Elladan's expression was one of anger and disgust, while Arwen simply looked as though she was going to cry.

Racing over to his siblings, he realized why. A piece of wood was partially buried in the ground, making it difficult indeed to dislodge. The wooden post was stained with blood, and the ground beneath it was also splattered with rust-colored stains.

Elrohir placed a hand on Elladan's shoulder and the other on Arwen's. "Oh, Valar, no."

One of the elves under the command of the twins approached them. "We have been able to determine the direction the orcs took when they broke camp. They travel toward Rivendell, my lords."

Legolas had debated whether Estel should ride in front of him or behind on the one horse that they had to share. If he rode behind, his wounded back would not be under so much pressure, but he was in more danger of falling off. If he rode in front, his back would chafe and press against Legolas' chest, but the elf could hold him onto the horse. He decided that falling off of the horse would do the young Ranger grievous harm, and so had insisted that Estel ride in front of him. He was glad of his choice when he felt his friend's body go slack and relax against him. Heat radiated from Estel as his fever spiked again, but he did not fall into unconsciousness.

The pace of their travel jarred his aching body terribly, but the worst part was that the pain seemed like a physical manifestation of the searing agony and turmoil in his heart. He had never seen Lord Elrond so angry before, not even when he had been on orc hunts with his father and brothers had Elrond showed such cold, deliberate anger. The eyes that had always looked upon him with love or humor had been empty. Lost in his fevered memories, he mumbled, "Sorry, Ada. I'm sorry."

"Estel?" The elf looked down at his friend in concern. If delirium gripped the young human again, it would be a serious problem.

At the sound of Legolas' voice, Estel forced himself to sit up straight. "I am fine."

They were only about a day's journey from Rivendell now, and Legolas' Elven senses warned him that something was amiss. He stopped the horse, listening intently.

"What is it, Legolas?" Estel's hand rested on the hilt of his sword, prepared to fight if it became necessary.

The elf held up his hand for silence, and then continued to listen. Estel's hearing, although keen even among Rangers, was no match for Elven ears. Moments later, he heard the far-off scream of an orc. Sliding down from the saddle as quickly as his wounds would allow, he put his ear to the ground and closed his eyes, concentrating on listening for vibrations carried through the earth.

"Two different parties of them. Ugblood probably sent for the rest of his company to join him. There are at least a hundred of them in total."

Legolas nodded in agreement. "They are miles from here, headed for Rivendell. You were right, my friend. Even if they cannot find the way in, they can still harass any elves who come and go, and perhaps they will not be so close-mouthed as you were. We must stop them and carry the alarm to Imladris."

Mounting the horse again, the elf and the human rode on a course due west, hoping to reach Rivendell before the orcs could. They reached the edges of Rivendell not a moment too soon. They were only an hour or so ahead of the orcs. When Legolas stopped the horse, Estel slid down to the ground and drew his sword.

"Estel, what are you doing?"

"What I must. I cannot enter Rivendell, but that does not mean that I cannot stop the orcs from doing so. They may never find Imladris, but these woods are sacred to the elves. These woods are my home, my true home. Even if I can no longer walk among the trees, I will not see them chopped at with crude axes for orc campfires. Go, Legolas. Go where I cannot and bring help."

The elf-prince started to protest, and then thought instead of Mirkwood. The pain that the corruption of his beautiful home was still fresh within all the elves formerly of Greenwood, now of Mirkwood. Whenever spiders, orcs, or any other foul creature was spotted, Thranduil sent a party to eradicate the problem. The only way to win their forest back was one battle at a time.

"Legolas, you must go! I am a Ranger, and I am not without cunning. I will lead them on a merry chase before they corner me, and when they do, I won't go down without a fight. With any luck, you'll be back with the twins and their warriors before I even have to engage in face-to-face combat."

Knowing that the Ranger was right and actually turning the horse around and leaving him alone were two very different things. With a feeling of dread in his heart, he pulled a dagger from his person and handed it to Estel. "Here. Have you any other weapons besides the dagger and the sword?"

"I have your extra bow."

Legolas removed two arrows from his quiver and placed them in Estel's. "I fear you will need them more than I. I will return with help as quickly as possible. I will not abandon you, Estel. May the uncanny luck of the Rangers be with you."

With that, Legolas rode hard and fast toward Imladris, and Estel stood his ground, waiting for the inevitable arrival of the orcs.
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