***Author’s Note: I know I’m a bit late getting this out here, please forgive me. *gives readers puppy eyes* It’s the summer, makes me brain dead (and lazy, btw). But chapter 7 is here now, and I hope you enjoy it! Lots of love!
CH. 7: Escape
“Why haven’t they attacked?”
Elladan and Rowan crept down the narrow street, not far from the cell. Her arm began to ache terribly again, but she tried not to speak of it. It wasn’t important.
“Perhaps the haradrim aren’t ready yet.” Elladan whispered back, crouching against a broken wall. Rowan frowned and was quiet a moment, thinking.
“Then why are they after us?” She added. Elladan sighed, and put a hand on her good arm.
“I do not know; right now we just have to get out of the City.”
“We cannot just leave,” She interrupted, impatient.
“Because we can help them.” Her eyes was pleading, tearing at Elladan’s heart.
“Rowan, listen to me,” He began. Rowan clenched her teeth and tried to ignore him. “We are the traitors, remember? Even if we could talk to the general we would be ignored and re-captured. It may even be too late, if the haradrim are already inside. . .”
She bit her lip: he was right. There was nothing they could do- not here.
“Then how do we escape?” Rowan stroked the knife by her side subconsciously. She didn’t want to fight. Elladan was silent beside her.
“This doesn’t bode well.” She murmured to herself. A long night was ahead of them.
* * * * * * *
Elrohir squinted in the darkness. The young man grabbed his arm and led him into the back of the home.
“They will search the houses, hide here.” He motioned Elrohir towards a small closet in the back.
“How do I know I can trust you.” The elf asked. There was pounding on the door, and Elrohir cast a glance back through the front room.
“Quick.” The man helped Elrohir climb into the closet, and the door shut quickly, plunging the little space into darkness. The elf held his breath as a odor filled the closet. He placed a hand over his nose, and just listened. The man’s footsteps headed for the door.
“Open this door!” A muffled voice shouted. Elrohir heard the door scrape open, and the soldiers heavy steps entered the room.
“Check the back.” Someone called. Desks and chairs were overturned, crashing onto the stone floor- but the closet was left untouched.
“There’s no one here, sir.” One of the soldiers said, and Elrohir heard them walk towards the door. Soon there was quiet again.
The closet door swung open.
“Sorry about that, but I knew they wouldn’t check the latrine.” There was a smile on the young man’s face. Elrohir scowled.
“Thank you- but to whom am I speaking?”
“Jax.” The young man replied, and looked out the window. “They seem to have gone now. Where were you going anyway?” Jax bent to pick up the fallen desk as he talked.
“I am trying to find an elf named Rowan. . .” said Elrohir. Jax snapped to attention.
“Is she alright?” He sounded concerned, recognizing the name. Elrohir sighed.
“I don’t know.”
Legolas sank beside a barrel, exhausted. His shoulder hurt, and there was no sign of Elrohir; for all he knew the elf could be captured, or worse. Rubbing his arm he listened for the sounds of guards outside the dead end street. Nothing. But then words floated up to him from one of the houses in the courtyard.
“We must find the others.” Someone said.
“I know, but keep quiet,” Another replied. “who knows where they might be? There’s no way you can get past the soldiers.”
Legolas stood slowly, and crept his way beside an open window. In the dim candlelight, he saw Elrohir and a young man who looked strangely familiar.
“Psst!” Legolas hissed. His friend started and then spotted Legolas’s head bobbing outside. The young man spun around.
“Who is it?” Jax called- in the night he couldn’t tell who was peering into the hut. “Legolas.” The elf whispered.
Jax ran to the door and opened it, motioning Legolas inside.
“I’m surprised you found us.” He said as the elf came in. Legolas nodded to Elrohir, who smiled; half the troupe was here. “How did you sneak past the guards, anyway?”
Legolas turned to Jax with a mischievous grin.
Elrohir laughed softly at his friend’s words. Jax shrugged, and headed into the back room. They were safer there.
“We have to go back into the city,” Legolas said as they pulled a table in. Jax stepped back against the wall, groaning.
“You won’t make it.” He said. Legolas shot him a look.
“It is the only way,” Elrohir put in. “If we stay here, who knows what may happen to Rowan, and Elladan as well. They are in great danger.”
Jax sighed, and kicked the floor with his shoe. The elves watched him, expecting him to have an answer. Jax put a hand to his bandaged head.
“I can’t think well right now.” It was a poor excuse. Legolas tapped his fingers on the table, annoyed. Jax threw up his hands.
“Listen,” he said, “There’s only one other way out of this City besides the front gate.”
“Where is it?” Elrohir jumped to his feet.
“Well,” said Jax, “It’s not exactly on this level. . .”
Legolas stared at the young man.
“Which level is it on?” He asked slowly, slightly worried about the young man’s soon forthcoming reply.
“It’s up on the sixth, just through the gate- the gate that’s guarded by a dozen men, of course.” Jax articulated the last words very clearly. Elrohir sat back into the chair and rubbed his face with his hands.
“This is hopeless.” He murmured. Legolas glanced at the blank tone in his friends voice. Of course it wasn’t hopeless. . . His mind danced back over the “hopeless” events of the Fellowship, and those were ten times more difficult than this. Legolas leaned back in his chair and watched Elrohir. And then his thoughts drifted to Rowan. He was concerned for her, and yet there wasn’t anything he could do. Frowning he also thought of Elladan. There were so many unknowns now.
Jax watched the elves with a curious eye; they were so different from him. Not just in appearance, but in. . . he couldn’t find the word. Their presence was lighter, even in the dim candlelight. But he felt almost lowly compared to them, a feeling he had never had with Rowan.
Legolas shifted in his seat.
“If we were disguised, perhaps?” He offered. Elrohir stared at the prince as if he were insane. Jax raised an eyebrow.
“Maybe, on any normal day. But with the added guards, they’ll be checking everybody. Besides, we are all supposed to stay indoors anyway. You’d be compromised the second you stepped up to that gate.”
“Well you’re optimistic.” Legolas’s voice dripped with a sarcasm that surprised Jax.
“Hey, buddy,” Jax spat, “I’m just being realistic- and in case you haven’t noticed, I care about Rowan just as much as you do. You don’t know her like I do-“
In the blink of an eye Legolas was out of his chair and had Jax pinned against the wall.
“Don’t make assumptions, Jax,” The elf said, a unmistakably bitter glint in his eye. “You don’t know anything about her compared to me.”
Elrohir stood slowly, a bit worried about where things had ended up.
“Uh, perhaps we’ve ventured off the subject. Legolas?” Elrohir sent daggers by the look he gave Legolas. The blonde elf stepped back, letting of the young man and shaking off his sudden anger.
“I’m sorry Jax.” He murmured. Elrohir glanced at Jax before he sat back down.
“Do you have any better ideas?”
Elladan wiped sweat off his brow. They were stuck in the middle of Minas Tirith with no where to go, and the soldiers seemed to be doubling their numbers; not very good news for the two elves who crouched hidden in the darkness.
“Do you know of any secret places where we could hide for a while?” He asked, turning to Rowan. She shook her head no.
“The only person who would know that is Jax,” She said, “and I don’t even know if he is alive.”
Elladan turned his attention back to the gates that led down to the fifth level, which were dead ahead of them.
“So you know of no hidden place?”
Rowan was confused by his repetition.
“No, Elladan. I’m sorry, but we’re stuck.” Her eyes drifted along the wall that was behind them, reaching beyond the columns and railings that hid them and crept into a dark nook in the far corner. “Elladan, do you think we could make it, unseen, over there.” She pointed to the shadows. Elladan shot her a funny look, but nodded.
“Yes. . . what’s over there?” He asked. Rowan didn’t answer. Instead she clenched the knife that was in her hand, and casting one more look to the guards, she quickly ran, hugging the wall. Elladan, caught off guard, watched her in a stunned silence for a moment, and then he was behind her. Immediately they were hidden in darkness again.
“Please give me more warning next time,” He said, noting a grin spread over his friend’s face.
“Why Elladan, were you unprepared?” She asked. Elladan leaned against the wall in the deep nook, refusing to answer her though a quick smile flickered in his eyes. They were in a small corner, shaped like a box, that hid away from the light of the torches.
“You seem glad about something.” He observed. Rowan turned away from him, her attention on something behind her. With a loud creak, a small door swung open, revealing blackness beyond it.
“I think I found Jax’s secret,” She said softly.
“The one that leads into the mountains. . . out of the city.”
Elladan brushed past Rowan and peered into the darkness.
“We need to find the others first.” He said. Rowan’s face filled with worry, and she hung her head.
“We cannot leave this level?” She said this rather than asked it. Elladan
nodded, looking back at her. She spoke again, this time almost to soft for even the elf lords hearing: “Then all we can do is pray that they are safe.”