A Daughter of the King - Chapter Twenty-Eight

Mandy's eyes faded in and out. She realized that she was lying on her stomach on a soft bed and that there were blankets covering her.

"Ummm...." she murmured, her voice cracking, "where am I?"

"You are in the house of Beorn." a man's voice answered.

Mandy's gaze flew to the side of the bed. There sat a huge man with thick black beard and hair. He had great bare arms and legs, knotted with muscle. He was clothed in a tunic of wool down to his knees. She stared confusedly at him.

"Who are you?" she asked, attempting to sit up.

He shook his head, holding her down gently. "I am Beorn," he answered, "the master of this house."

"How did I get here?" she questioned softly.

"I carried you most of the way." he replied, standing up. Mandy gazed up at him. He was a very tall man, with a deep voice. She looked into his eyes and gasped.

"You were the bear!" she exclaimed.

He laughed, very much sounding like a growl, "Yes, I am the bear."

Mandy just looked at him. Her eyes started to feel heavy again.

"Sleep now, Little One." he replaced the bandages on her back, "Sleep."

Mandy closed her eyes and fell into a deep and restful sleep. Beorn stared at her for a few minutes and then turned away. He went out of the room quietly and sat in his great hall. He knew there must be someone out there looking for her. He got up, gave his servants some orders if she should wake, and strode out the door.

"Father," Elwen stepped into the throne-room, "we need your help."

"Elwen," Thranduil stood, "what is wrong? And Mithrandir....elves from Rivendell. It has been a long while since we had guests from the mountains."

"I fear it is not a pleasant visit, Elven-King." Mithrandir told him, "We are hunting a band of orc and Southrons through your kingdom. They have taken a girl, an Erusen. Yes, I did say Erusen." Gandalf smiled a little at the shocked look from Thranduil.

"This is indeed unpleasant news, Mithrandir." Thranduil could see the looks of worry and anger on his daughter and her cousin, "How can I help?"

"You can help us track them down." Mithrandir answered, leaning on his staff.

"I will provide you with food and as many of my warriors as I can spare." Thranduil said, "It grieves me that there is an Erusen captured, and that I did not perceive it. Now, rest."

Elwen and Tethcelebel listened to him. Their thoughts were flying back and forth. They were both furious at what had happened with Mandy, and the more they waited, the angrier they became.

"Etarish!" Elwen said, pacing, "Curse them! I hope they get eaten by spiders!"

"Calm down, Elwen." Tethcelebel said, "We will find her."

"I cannot calm down!" Elwen yelled, "Not while I know she's out there getting...."

"I know, cousin, I know." Tethcelebel comforted her, "But screaming and yelling will not help her, nor being exhausted. Now sit down!"

"Fine." Elwen sat next to her but jumped up again when Thranduil walked in.

"Some of my best trackers are going with you, Daughter." Thranduil walked out with them, "Would I that Legolas were here to help."

"I know, Father." Elwen smiled wryly, "But they have me."

"Yes, and I did teach you and your brother." Thranduil stood next to her horse, his eyes full of sorrow, "Go with the Valar, Telella. (Little Elf)" He called her his old nickname for her. He watched them ride away, thinking about how like his wife Elwen appeared. He offered up a prayer to the Valar that they would be safe.

"It looks like they are heading towards the Carrock." Kallo muttered, looking at the tracks, "But they will go inland...they will not go through it."

"I agree," Elwen smiled grimly, "the guardian is still out there."

Tethcelebel laughed lightly, thinking about it.

They followed the trail for about two days, not knowing that Mandy had just been rescued by Beorn and Gwaihir. Tethcelebel, Elwen, and Kallo were walking ahead as scouts, leading their horses. Tethcelebel glanced around, having an uneasy feeling. The rest of the company was several hundred yards behind them.

"Elwen." Tethcelebel murmured softly, so that only she could hear, "I do not like this place."

"Well, that's an insult." Elwen teased slightly, "You've always liked..." she broke off at the serious look in Tethcelebel's eyes, "What is it?"

"I do not know," Tethcelebel searched the forest, her brow creased in worry, "It does not feel right."

Suddenly, they both heard running footsteps, a lot of them. Their horses reared slightly as orcs and men came racing up. Tethcelebel and Elwen dropped the leads and drew their swords. Kallo was already fighting his way towards them. It was as if the men and orcs were shocked and didn't notice them at first. Then they started attacking the elves. Tethcelebel and Elwen fought, protecting each other's backs. Kallo cut down an orc in front of him.

"Elwen!" he yelled, fighting hard, "Get Mithrandir!"

Elwen looked at Tethcelebel and understanding passed between them.

"I will draw them away from you," Tethcelebel said softly, blocking a blow, "Can you reach your horse?"

"Yes," Elwen answered just as soft, "But I don't want to leave you and Kallo."

"Look," Tethcelebel hissed, "You are the closest to the horses. You need to go. Go!" Tethcelebel swung away from her. She fought swiftly, her blade seeming to whistle.

"Come, orc scum!" Tethcelebel yelled, "Cowardly dogs! Spawn of Morgoth!"

The orcs screamed in fury, racing after her. She slew some as they came at her. Suddenly, she hit something. Glancing back, she saw Kallo fighting next to her.

"You really got them angry, M'lady." Kallo grinned slightly, "They have all but forgotten Elwen."

"I just hope she gets away and doesn't get it into her head to come after us." Tethcelebel muttered, glancing over to her. She smiled as she saw Elwen gone. "Now I just hope that Mithrandir gets here soon." she said, half to herself as they fought. They protected each other when a horn sounded.

Tethcelebel exchanged grins with Kallo as the elves and Mithrandir poured into the clearing. The sound of screeching orcs and screaming men broke through the forest. Also the sound of blade on shield, thumps and groans.

"Celebel!" Elwen's voice yelled.

Tethcelebel whirled around, seeing Elwen trapped against a tree. She fought towards her, trying to get there. Orcs and men blocked her way. She cried aloud as an arrow struck Elwen in the arm. Tethcelebel's eyes hardened, her gaze was deadly. She whirled and whipped about, her blade going faster and faster. She slew any who got in her way. Suddenly, an arrow hissed and killed the orc right in front of Elwen. Two other arrows struck the men around her.

"I know those arrows!" Elwen shouted, ducking a blow.

"For the dwarves!!" Gimli roared, racing into the midst of the fighting. Legolas was right behind him, knives stabbing and cutting expertly. Tethcelebel got near Elwen. She swiftly killed one of the orcs right in front of Elwen.

"That one was mine!" Elwen glared angrily at Tethcelebel, her eyes bright with battle.

"Sorry," Tethcelebel laughed slightly, stabbing another orc.

The elves obviously had the upper hand of the fight, and soon the orcs and men were either dead or wounded. Elwen sat down, bracing herself against the tree. She closed her eyes, breathing heavily. Tethcelebel crouched next to her, examining the wound.

"It is not that bad." Elwen muttered, while Tethcelebel broke the shaft off.

"No," Tethcelebel smiled slightly, "It is no worse than what you got when you visited Lorien."

"Ah, yes." Elwen laughed then winced as Tethcelebel pulled it out swiftly, "Ai, your grandmother was not pleased with me then."

"No she wasn't." Tethcelebel laughed lightly, bandaging the wound.

"Hello, Brother." Elwen glanced up as Legolas walked over, "Glad you could join us."

"Are you alright, Elwen?" Legolas ignored her teasing, his eyes worried.

"Yes, I am fine." Elwen retorted, "It is no worse than what I have gotten before."

"She will be alright, Legolas." Tethcelebel helped Elwen stand, "What are you doing here?"

"We finished exploring the mines..." Legolas began.

"We did not!" Gimli came up, wiping his ax off, "He said he felt that something was amiss in Mirkwood, and so we came to Mirkwood. I wasn't about to argue with a crazy elf!"

"Ai, Gimli." Legolas shook his head smiling, but then his smile faded, "It is true, though. I felt something amiss."

Tethcelebel and Elwen glanced at each other.
"Well, you see..." Tethcelebel began when Legolas looked around.

"Where is Aarien?" he asked, "Was she not to travel with you? And why are you in Mirkwood?"

"Legolas." Elwen's face was dark with pain and sorrow, knowing what it would do to her brother, "Aarien was kidnapped near the Mines. It was some of these orcs and men. We have been tracking them for the last five days."

"I am sorry, Cousin." Tethcelebel placed a hand on his shoulder.

Legolas's face grew dark, anger filling it. He slammed his knife into the ground angrily. Gimli groaned, leaning on his ax. All of a sudden, they heard evil snickering. Elwen turned to see a Southron lying on the ground, blood pouring out of many wounds.

"What do you know about her?" Elwen growled, her knife at his throat, "Tell me! And I might make your passing easier."

"The master's been having a bit of fun with `er." he gasped out, "She's dead!"

"You lie!" Legolas roared in pain, grabbing the man, "You lie."

"She wouldn't tell the master what `e wanted, so `e had her killed." the Southron laughed even louder. Elwen glared at him with hate and suddenly stabbed him. Tethcelebel grabbed her, stopping her from stabbing the others.

"Peace, Cousin." Tethcelebel whispered to her, "There is something amiss in what he told us. Aarien is not dead. I know she is not."

"Ai," Elwen breathed out, "It's just that..."

"Elwen." Mithrandir came up, "You are hurt!"

"It is but a skim, Mithrandir." Elwen brushed him away, "Tethcelebel has already tended to it. Let's keep going, we are close now."

Mithrandir nodded, noticing Legolas and Gimli's pained expressions. "Come with us, Legolas and Gimli." he told them, "Do not give up hope. Aarien is a strong girl, and she is Erusen."

Legolas mounted Arod and pulled Gimli up. They fell into line with the rest of the elves, Legolas nodding to the greetings by the other elves. They rode fast and soon reached the outskirts of Mirkwood. They saw the fortress, now with its walls torn down.

"Someone has been here before us." Mithrandir murmured, glancing at the ruin, "Eagles it looks like."

"Eagles?" Tethcelebel breathed. She and Elwen walked among the rubble, hoping for any sign of Mandy. There were orcs and men strewn about, dead. They wandered into the throne room where they saw Ulka-Loome. He was lying like a rag-doll, as if something had thrown him. He was dead, but what intrigued them the most was the footprint. It was a bear track.

"Legolas! Mithrandir!" Elwen and Tethcelebel came racing out of the room. They hurriedly told Mithrandir what they had seen.

Legolas was over in the courtyard. He saw the post where Mandy had been tied numerous times and whipped. He followed the trail of blood to the cell, where he found the door bashed in. He could see her imprint on the ground. He also saw a bear track going out of the room. He went to Mithrandir and told him.

"Beorn." Mithrandir said, "The shape-shifter."

"Beorn?" Tethcelebel said in shock, "I thought he had died?"

"No, he has not. He must have gotten word somehow of Aarien's capture and rescued her. If we find him, we will find her." Mithrandir led the way out of the fortress, "Let us ride to Beorn's house." The company rode speedily, urging their horses on.

***Author's Note***
ok, what to say?? she's rescued! and legolas finally knows
that's about it

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