A Journey in the Dark - The escapades of a young Prince of Mirkwood - Chapter Two

Disclaimer: Err... the last time I checked, I wasn't Tolkien and didn't own any of this wonderful stuff. I'm still hoping that that's not true but no signs to the contrary seem to be popping up at my doorstep.

Summary: When wargs are sighted on the western reaches of Mirkwood, Legolas, along with his friends, go to investigate. However, they soon find that the wargs are the least of their problems. They stumble onto a sinister plot, which threatens the entire kingdom of Mirkwood. Now it is up to Legolas and his new-found friend Aragorn to inform the King before all is lost. But that is, only if they themselves can escape the danger before it is too late... Featuring Legolas and Aragorn.

Genre: Action/Adventure/Suspense

Rating: PG-13 for violence in later chapters

Author's Note: Thoughts are indicated by * *

Thanks a lot to all those who commented. It was really encouraging, so here's your second chapter. It came out faster than I expected. Anyway, for all those who asked, this is my first fic. Well, sort of anyway. Actually I started with another story (a post-LotR Legolas fic) when the idea for this one came up. This is a prequel of sorts to that fic and I decided to write this first. Actually, I'm writing both simultaneously and everything's totally messed up. As usual. ,_, Ok, I've rambled long enough, so I'm just going to stop now and let you read. And don't forget to rate and comment!! Please!! Really like to now what you guys think. Constructive criticism is welcome.

For all those looking for the 1st chapter, here it is: http://www.theonering.com/docs/11909.html

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A Journey in the Dark

By: Ereinion
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Chapter Two: Terrible Retribution


"LEGOLAS!"

The entire realm of Mirkwood shook from its very foundations at the furious bellow that shattered the peaceful night. However, the wood elves were quite accustomed to having the King raging about in the middle of the night, screaming about the antics of his youngest son and his two friends. So they just turned their collective back at what was a fairly common affair and went back to sleep. They had had a very entertaining evening and most of them were exhausted.

"LEGOLAS!" the scream sounded, again. This time it was edged with more than just murderous intent. There was the dangerous tinge of vengeance sounding in those words. It sent a spike of dread through Legolas' spine.

"Ai, what have I done now?" he moaned. As far as he could recall, the last trick he had played was serving a live wild boar for the Royal Feast instead of a dead one, that very evening. He almost smiled at the memory of his father, the King of Mirkwood, leaping aside at the sight of the furious beast charging at him with his horns raised, ready to gore him. He almost smiled, but not quite. Apparently, this time, he had done something far worse. The last time he had heard the King shout like that was when he had dyed his brother's hair pink. The trick in itself was quite harmless to all except the House of Oropher (they were extremely conscious about their appearance.)

"That scream doesn't sound too friendly." Aegnor said, as if he had made a great observation. "What did you do?"

"I swear I did nothing." Legolas said horrified.

"Nothing except have a wild boar run over your Father." said Valandil, his voice oozing innocence.

Legolas gave him a stare cold enough to quench the fires of Orodruin. Although he never realized this, Legolas looked a spitting image of his father when he chose to douse someone's mischief or snide comments with his arctic gaze.

"You had better go before he does something drastic." Valandil snickered.

"You are enjoying this, aren't you?" he accused.

Aegnor screwed up his face in deep thought. After a while he quipped: "Absolutely!"

"Totally!" Valandil agreed, grinning.

"I'll kill you when I get back." Legolas threatened calmly before taking a deep breath and walking out of his room. "With friends like these, who needs enemies?" he muttered to himself.

He reached his Father's room and steeled himself to face the black ire of the King. It was said in many realms of Middle-earth that none except the Lady Galadriel could face Thranduil's wrath and even she had flinched under his gaze, once. This was one of those times in which, Legolas fervently wished that all the legends and myths about his father were grossly exaggerated. However, having lived with him for over two thousand years, he knew this wish to be a mere fantasy that had no hope of being realized.

He put his trembling hand on the polished doorknob pushed open the great door. He felt like he was walking into Thangorodrim and that Morgoth was lying in wait for him. Nothing had prepared him for the scream that followed.

"LEGOLAS!" He took the full brunt of his Father's ire, for the first time in centuries. Normally he could count on the shaky knees and the trembling hands of his friends beside him. However, this time he was completely alone. The scream sounded a lot louder on this side of the threshold and Legolas took a step back, as if he had been physically assaulted. He had to use all his efforts to keep himself from turning and fleeing down the hallway to the safety of his room.

"Yes, Adar." he said, in the most timid voice he could manage. He did not have to try very hard.

"How dare you?" Thranduil exploded.

*How dare I what?* Legolas wondered silently. He did not have the mettle to say that aloud. In fact, saying anything aloud at this point would be sheer folly.

"Two on the same day! You have bitten off more than you can chew, ion nin!"

*Two?* Legolas wondered how nearly being trampled by a wild boar counted as two tricks. *Must have had a bit too much to drink* he deduced. However, he seriously doubted that. His father seemed sober enough. Well... at least as sober as one can look while one is almost purple in the face and desperately trying to pull one's crown off one's head. In retrospect, the scene seemed incredibly hilarious. But at the present moment, Legolas had not the luxury to look at it from different points of view.

"I can't get this thing off my head because of your shenanigans."

*The crown is stuck on his head!*

"Father I swear I know not how this happened!" replied Legolas, biting his lip hard to stop himself from laughing. "I swear I had no hand in this!" he tried desperately to convince his father of his innocence. His task was made all the more impossible by the amount of energy he had to expend in just controlling himself.

"SILENCE!" The scream was quite enough to extinguish all of Legolas' mirth and turn his legs to jelly. This time he had really done it. He wondered if Mandos would make a special concession and take his spirit to the great Halls beyond the sea at this very moment so he would not have to spend the rest of his life in the dungeons.

"Do not try to hoodwink me!"

"I-I-I am not trying to hoodwink you, Adar." He stammered. His voice carried the pain of torture. That particular tone almost always worked in calming his father down. Almost.

"Do not try to lie to me, you useless little elfling! Is it not enough that you have a wild boar trample me while I was trying to carve it? Now you go and stick this cursed thing on my head! You are going to pay for this Legolas!"

"B-b-but Adar-" he pleaded. The fact that his father called him Legolas was never a good sign.

"It's not going to work this time!"

*Ai! My fate is sealed!* he despaired silently.

"This time, the only fitting punishment is a week in the dungeons!"

Legolas' face went white at the statement. This could not be happening to him! He tried one last time to convince his father of his innocence: "But I didn't do it!" he pleaded. "This is a misunderstanding!" his voice shook, as he knew his weak effort would have no effect on the King.

"A week in the dungeons and that is final. Now get out!"

"B-b-but Adar! You can't do that! Tomorrow I must go with the Border Guards. It is my first command. You cannot throw me into the dungeons now!"

"Can't I?" Thranduil raised an elegant eyebrow. "Do you seek to challenge my authority, my Prince?" he said dangerously

Legolas wisely kept his mouth shut, at the last question. He knew that whatever answer he gave would be twisted around to the King's advantage. However, he made no effort to hide the fury that burned in his eyes. They flashed with defiance. He had already decided that under no circumstances would he obey his father.

Thranduil had expected this defiance from his son. In fact, he would have been rather disappointed if Legolas hadn't reacted the way he did. He was after all a descendant of Oropher and would not submit to authority easily. So he had made contingency plans. With a clap of his hands he summoned the guards who were waiting outside his door.

"Take the Prince to the darkest cell you can find." He commanded. The two guards' jaws dropped at the order. Never had they thought that the day, in which, the Prince would finally be thrown into the dungeons for his mischief would come so soon. Neither had the ever believed that they would be the ones to do the dirty work of actually locking the youngest prince in a dark and dank cell.

Legolas' mouth also fell open at hearing his father. The cold command sent a shiver down his spine. He had never seen his father like this before. Not only had Thranduil's voice carried a barely controlled anger but also a cold tinge that Legolas had never heard in his father's voice. Two tricks in one day had absolutely pushed the King over the edge. He felt strong hands on his shoulders. His first reaction was to struggle. The grip on his shoulders shifted to his arms and got much stronger. They were desperately trying to smother his struggles without hurting him.

"Release me! I am your Prince!" Legolas practically screamed, bringing as much authority into his voice as he could muster. He almost sighed in relief when he felt the grip on his arms loosen. Although, he hardly exercised the power of his position, he was quite formidable when he chose to. However, as quickly as it had risen, his heart plummeted again to the pit of his stomach at the King's next command.

"I am your King. You will obey my order and throw this little elfling into the dungeons before I decide to throw you in also!"

The soldiers reluctantly caught hold of the stunned Prince and dragged him out of the room as he renewed his struggles.

All thought of his son flew out the window as the screams of the indignant prince faded away. He gave another sharp tug at the cursed crown that refused to come off. He flinched in pain as he only succeeded in pulling out a thick lock of his fair hair.

* Those cursed Elflings! Now how do I get this crown off? *

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

The dungeons were completely silent except for the sound of dripping water coming from the distance. The rhythmic beat of the globules of water shattering as they struck the stone floor seemed to have a calming effect on Legolas. The fact that he, the Prince of Mirkwood, had just been thrown into the dungeons by the orders of the King, his father, finally began to sink into his stunned mind. He sat down on the hard bunk at the corner of the cell as he contemplated this new situation, into which he had been unfairly thrust. He let his head drop into his hands and let out a frustrated sigh, as no ideas of escape seemed to present themselves. The guards had left almost immediately as none wished to stay in the dreary place longer that what was absolutely necessary. He was completely alone in the dark caves beneath the palace, as the prison was rarely used. His only companion was a flickering torch that rested in its bracket on the wall at the other side of the bars.

A sudden sound of nails clicking on a hard stone floor caused his head to snap up. He jumped and quickly drew his feet upto his chest as he saw a few rats skitter by. He grimaced in disgust as the foul creatures passed dangerously close to him. He was just thanking the Valar for the fact that the rats had not come any closer than that when he felt a heavy weight on his arm. To his horror, he found a rat calmly sitting on his arm, looking at him through unblinking red eyes. With a cry of revulsion, he roughly brushed off the creature. It landed on the ground with a dull thud that served to scare away the rest of the creatures that had emerged from the shadows.

He tried desperately to calm his hammering heart, which threatened to bruise his chest by the force of its beat. His endeavors proved successful after a few minutes. It was however, a momentary respite as he soon saw a few rats emerge from the dark corners of the cell. He quickly drew his feet onto the narrow bunk and placed his chin on his knees.

Legolas was proud to say that there was almost nothing that truly frightened him. Almost nothing. Unfortunately, one of those very few things that did frighten him was a rat. It was a very irrational fear that he had developed when he was a mere elfling, only about a hundred years old. It was all borne out of a queer dream followed by a most unfortunate experience.

His hands trembled as he saw the rats coming closer. The number of creatures increased as more of their kind emerged. They were mostly attracted by the fact that their victim offered no resistance. Legolas' mind screamed at him to move, to at least do something instead of just sitting there and staring dumbly at the rats. However, his body was held in the clutches of an illogical fear and rejected the commands of his brain. His breath came in short, ragged gasps and sweat beaded on his forehead despite the chill that hung in the air. The rats continued to advance.

Just as Legolas had given up hope and resigned to the fate of being eaten alive, there was a loud clang as the outer doors of the dungeons opened. The sound of footsteps echoed through the corridors. The light of another flame heralded the approach of visitors. At the sight of more people, the rats scattered. With a frightened chitter; they went back into the shadowy holes in from which they had appeared.

Released from his terror Legolas collapsed into his bunk. He breathed a huge sigh of relief. His breath slowed and his eyes drifted shut. He gratefully allowed his body to relax and accept the lethargic peace sleep offered. He was completely exhausted from the events of the day and the dreadful ordeal that he just lived through.

"Legolas?" a soft voice called tentatively from the other side of the bars.

His head snapped up at the sound of his name. The rage in his heart that had been smothered by the terror and exhaustion into dying embers, flared to life at the sound of the source of his troubles. With a roar of fury, he leapt out of his bunk and bounded to the bars of his cell. Taken aback by his wrath, Valandil and Aegnor took a few steps back. The smug grin on Valandil's face was wiped out as all thoughts of jeering at Legolas' miserable condition flew out of his head. He did not get very far as Legolas' hand shot out from between the bars and caught hold of his tunic. Resistance on Valandil's part was futile as anger lent strength to his arms and Legolas pulled with inhuman force. The result was a resounding clang as Valandil's head made contact with the metal bars.

"You! You did this!" he growled in a low voice. A dangerous light shone in his eyes that promised terrible retribution to those responsible for his present condition. "Get me out of this miserable place. NOW!"

"I-I-I am sorry! I didn't think he would throw you into the dungeons for that simple trick!" Valandil pleaded. He blinked a few times and vigourously shook his head to get rid of the stars that twinkled in front of his eyes. The Prince's anger truly frightened him. Never had he seen his friend so furious. There was one attitude that Legolas never abandoned, that is to see the humourous side of the situation. That quality alone had helped him to survive many hardships. However, now he was quite far from his normal self and all etiquette and positive attitudes had gone out the window.

"You pasted his crown onto his head! What did you expect him to do?! Did you think he would congratulate you on the wonderful joke?!" Legolas screamed.

"He did WHAT?" Aegnor exclaimed while desperately trying to untangle the front of Valandil's tunic, which was bundled up in Legolas' fist. He had realized that it would not help to have his friends kill each other. He once again bemoaned his predicament as he finally managed to free Valandil from the Prince's iron grip. He could not fathom how he always ended up trying to form a truce between his two friends as they incessantly played outrageous pranks on each other. Though he would be quite happy to abandon his role of peacekeeper, as this time Valandil really deserved to be throttled. As soon as Valandil had been released, Legolas began looking for other targets to vent his anger on.

"Relax!" Aegnor said, laying a hand on Legolas' shoulder only to have it angrily brushed off.

"Relax? I almost got eaten by rats, a few minutes ago! How can you ask me to relax?"

Aegnor elbowed Valandil sharply when he heard a choked cough, which sounded suspiciously like a suppressed snicker. "Shut up!" he hissed in a low voice.

He took out the large bundle of keys that he had found hanging outside the door leading to the dungeons. He inserted several into the rusted lock before he found the correct one. There was a loud click as the lock sprang open. Only when he saw Legolas' fingers tighten around the bars of the cell-door did he realize his blunder. However, realization had come too late as the moment the lock opened, Legolas pushed open the barred gate before Aegnor could even react. He felt himself being roughly shoved aside as Legolas' made his way towards the origin of all his troubles. The furious Prince grabbed Valandil by the front of his tunic and raised him off the ground. However, before he could no any further damage to the unfortunate Elf, he felt a hand take hold of his collar. The soft cloth tightened around his neck as he felt himself being dragged backwards. Within moments, he was back inside the cell. He immediately let go of Valandil's tunic and turned towards the door, only to have it clanged shut on his face.

He had just been thrown into the dungeons. Again.

It took him a long moment to digest this small piece of information. However, as soon as it had sunk into his stunned mind, he threw himself at the barred door. Unfortunately, it was securely shut and did not give way under his violent ministrations.

"Hey! Get us out of here!" Valandil screamed at Aegnor who was watching the pair contentedly from the other side of the bars.

"I'm sick of being the peacekeeper every time one of you decides to be funny! Why don't you solve your problems this time?" A smile lit up his face as he continued, "I'll be back on the morrow to check on you! Don't kill each other in the mean time!"

"Let us out!" Legolas shouted at Aegnor but it was too late. He merely wasted his breath on his friend's retreating back as he disappeared into the darkness beyond the small circle of light formed by the flickering torches. The distant clang of the outer door shutting signaled Aegnor's departure.

Legolas growled in frustration and landed a hard kick on the unyielding metal of the door.

"Relax!" Valandil said laying a hand on Legolas' shoulder. "We'll be out in no time!" He neutralized the look of utter contempt and disbelief that was thrown in his direction by uncovering a thin wire from his pocket. He inserted it into the rusted lock and jiggled around for a while. After a few minutes, his efforts were rewarded by the sound of the lock clicking open.

Legolas threw his arms around Valandil's neck in gratitude as he breathed a huge sigh of relief. "Thank the Valar, I don't have to spend another minute in this miserable place!

"I may decide not to kill you after all! But Aegnor..." he said to Valandil. His lips twisting into an evil smile that mirrored the expression on his friend's face.

"Aegnor will pay." Valandil said as the same thought of sweet revenge flashed through both their minds.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

The shutters creaked as a gentle wind caused then to swing back and forth. The white silk curtains formed a billowing veil of cloth as the wind found its way into Aegnor's room. Suddenly, a silent shadow flitted across the window.

After a few minutes, there was a soft scraping sound as the rusted hinges brushed against each other. A thin sliver of light fell on the floor. It elongated, as the crack in the door got wider. Abruptly, it disappeared as the shadow silently slipped into the room. He closed the door softly behind him before he made his way towards the bed situated in one corner of the large room. He stopped in front of the open window to ascertain that his action went unseen by prying eyes. He stood for a moment, tall and proud, his slim figure silhouetted against the square of light.

He quickly made his way towards the bed and towards his unsuspecting victim. As he towered over the sleeping form of his friend, a flash of pity passed through his mind. However, before it could strengthen its hold, he quickly suppressed it. His evil intentions emerged in the forefront again as a fiendish grin lit up his face.

He took his leave as silently as he had arrived when his deed was done.


To be continued...

Translation: Adar - father

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