The Forgotten Room, Twenty-First Hall
Ariane momentarily stopped hacking away at the gray wall. Her muscles were tired and ached. She panted heavily. Sweat beaded on her forehead. It was pretty much finished – a little rough perhaps – but she thought it was very good for an Elf who had never held an axe, much less made stairs.
In the eastern wall were now two ledges – one that started at her shoulder, and another that, when one stood on it, was another shoulder length away, which intentionally sat close beneath the light shaft. The light coming through the shaft was now waning, and Ariane knew she did not have much time to escape. It’s now or never, she thought.
Lifting the axe slowly, as her arms were burning, she placed the metal head of the axe on the edge and painstakingly pulled her body weight up, until she could climb onto the edge. Once on, Ariane sat for a moment, swinging her legs and smiling at the ground below. Suddenly a knock pounded the door, and a familiar voice announced, "Supper!"
Supper, Ariane thought, is something I haven’t had in a very long time. I can’t even remember the last time I ate! She thought back to when the party from Lothlorien had been travelling over the mountain pass. It was probably when Lady Celebrian and I had stopped to eat some lembas bread…how is Lady Celebrian? I wonder if she is alright now? Well, I’m sure she would be. It was Elladan and Elrohir that took her home.
Snapping out of her thoughts, she ran to the door and cleared away the boulders and chunks of stone that she had put in front of the door. On the other side, Lord Balin unbarred the door and tried to push the door open. Not wanting him to see what she had done, Ariane stopped the door with her foot and let the door open only a crack. She peered through.
"I want to come in," said Lord Balin, standing resolutely outside of the door.
"Not until I’ve finished."
"Let me in."
"No." Ariane raised her head proudly, smirking that she finally had the upper hand.
But Lord Balin would not give up so easily. He pushed against the door, and to Ariane’s surprise, he had a lot of strength. However, Ariane was stronger, and she leaned against the door. Idiotic Dwarf, Ariane laughed to herself.
Lord Balin stopped. His black eyes turned red with rage. "Fine!" He turned to leave and threw a glass vial up in the air. Ariane quickly opened the door more and caught the vial with her left hand. At that moment, he turned, and striking like a cobra shoved the door with all his might.
The door flew halfway open. Ariane, caught off guard, pulled her hand inside, and clutched the precious vial. It is time to fight the hand that feeds, she thought. Collecting herself, she tried to push the door closed, the Dwarf’s feet sliding along the floor, still trying to win. Now she was mad at the Dwarf, and screamed, "You impatient fool! Wait until I am finished!" With that, she shoved the door shut.
Looking down at the vial in her sweaty palm, she recognized it all too well. Lord Balin began to bar the door outside. "Wait!" Ariane yelled, and tried to pry the door open now with her fingernails.
"So now ya want out, eh?" he sneered.
"Please, where did you get this?"
"It’s our own medicine."
"Nay, you lie!" Ariane said stubbornly. "It has the insignia of Rivendell on the cap! Where did you get it?" She tried again to open the door, but it would not budge. Lord Balin said nothing. "Look, you have held me here captive, against my will, because of some ancient quarrel, and you know it and I know it. I have no relation with King Thranduil. I only just met him. I am not even of the Woodland Realm. If you really wanted your stupid plan to work, you should have held hostage somebody else!"
"You’re right, ya know. I should have taken his prissy son."
Enraged, Ariane pounded the door with her fist. "How dare you?! You don’t know anything about Legolas! If you really knew him, you know that he is really brave, and sweet when he wants to be, and an excellent fighter. He could give you a good whipping any day!" Ariane added quietly under her breath, "And his looks aren’t too bad either!"
How I miss him! she thought, though I hardly knew him. Is that possible? To ache for somebody you hardly know? Memories of Legolas flooded her mind. She remembered the awkward moment when she first laid eyes on him, and how cocky he had been when he had tried to bed her. Oh! And their sparring match! Ariane laughed softly. I’ll never forget the look on his face when I cornered him! But the memory that came back most vividly to Ariane was when Legolas had tried to kiss her goodbye. Ariane closed her eyes and wished that she could re-live that moment. Perhaps, if she did not have to go to Lorien, the memory would have a different ending.
Her thoughts were interrupted by Lord Balin’s harsh voice. "Are ya finished your speech o’ love? Obviously you cared about ‘im. And if he cares that much about ya, he’s gonna come for ya! Then I can get my mithril, and you can get your man, and we’ll both live happily ever after! How does that sound?"
What?! I don’t love him… do I? thought Ariane. Just because I miss him, it doesn’t mean I love him, does it? "Well, that was not my point! I meant that at least you could tell me who gave this to you, because I know it is somebody from Rivendell."
"It was some nasty Elf, who, now that I think about it, looked alot like ya." The Dwarf turned and walked away down the hall.
Figwit! Figwit had come! Ariane grinned. "There is still hope!" she exclaimed, and downed the vial of Niphredil in one gulp. She sighed happily, pushing big boulders in front of the door to bar the way. Running to the wall, where luckily Lord Balin did not know, she had made her means of escape, she grabbed her old dress, cloak, and the axe. Ariane now nimbly climbed up onto the first ledge, then the second, and then crawled through the shaft, and out!
The evening sun was settling behind the red-rimmed mountains. Never had she been so happy to see that sun! Using the sleeves of the cloak and dress, she tied the axe around her back. Then looking back over her shoulder one more time, she began to walk in the general direction of Rivendell, her feet crunching in the snow and hardly leaving prints.
The Pass of Caradhras, afternoon
Since they had left Rivendell, neither Legolas nor Haldir had spoken a word. The Soldiers of Lorien trudged along glumly. The whole party seemed heavy-hearted. In fact, it looked rather like a funeral procession. It was Legolas who broke the silence.
"What do you think?"
"Excuse me?" asked Haldir, as the question had caught him off guard.
"What do you think happened to Ariane? I mean, do you suppose she is still alive?"
Haldir was silent for a while. "Aye. That She-Elf is strong. I feel it in my heart that her presence is close to us, don’t you?"
"I don’t know what to think," said Legolas sadly. "Lord Glorfindel believes she lives. And so do you. And who am I to doubt her? I once promised myself that I would never underestimate her, ever again."
"I just wish I could have gone with the attack squad of Rivendell." Legolas continued. "I would have given those detestable orcs a piece of my mind!"
"All we can do is hope," said Haldir, smiling grimly, and laid his hand in a sign of friendship on Legolas’ shoulder, as Legolas twisted Ariane’s silver Ainur bracelet on his wrist.
Outside the West-Gate of the Mines of Moria, afternoon
The attack squad of Rivendell had just had the Doors of Moria shut rudely in their faces by the Lord of Moria. Nobody could think of what to do. Should they go back to Rivendell, and have Lord Glorfindel decide? Or should they go to Lothlorien and gather soldiers, and then straight to Mirkwood to get the king? However, Elrohir was thinking differently than everybody else.
What are they doing to her? Is she hurt? He said that she was doing him a favour. What could that mean? Anger and hate boiled in Elrohir towards the Dwarves. But then, instead of blaming them, he thought the opposite.
"You know whose fault this is?" Elrohir exclaimed.
"Brother, it is nobody’s fault…" Elladan began calmly.
"It’s those Elves of Mirkwood! It’s King Thranduil’s fault. He did this to her. It was him!"
"Don’t be irrational," reasoned Figwit. "It wasn’t his fault. How would he have known that it would come to this?"
"That’s just it! He didn’t think about how that stupid decision of his would affect everybody else, how it would affect her! He doesn’t think! And neither does that uppity son of his!"
The Elves watching Elrohir make a scene winced at his last comment. They believed he was acting insane, and that his feelings for Ariane were getting in the way of his judgment.
"Please calm down, Elrohir. You are not yourself." Elladan tried to lay his hand on his twin brother’s arm.
Elrohir backed away. "Stop. Don’t. You are not seeing this properly. None of you are. Do you not care that Ariane is at the mercy of Dwarves? That she must do whatever they say? That she is probably still hurt? The Lord of Moria is probably lying to us, just saying that she is alright. This is all a CONSPIRACY!"
"We do care, just as you do. And where is your faith in her, Elrohir?"
"I don’t know, Figwit. She is only one Elf. She can’t help herself. It’s impossible! But I am going to fight for her! Just watch me!"
With that remark, Elrohir turned and ran away from the party of Elves, towards the Elves who had stayed with the horses.
"Stop!" yelled Elladan. "Come on! We have to make sure he does not hurt the Prince of Mirkwood!" The attack squad followed Figwit, who followed Elladan, who followed Elrohir, who was off to catch Legolas.
Elrohir reached the horses. A sentry Elf, seeing him rush over, exclaimed, "What are you doing?"
"Giving Legolas what he deserves!" declared Elrohir indignantly. Untying a horse and jumping on, he raced north towards the Pass of Caradhras, where Legolas, Haldir, and the Soldiers of Mirkwood were travelling.
The Pass of Caradhras, evening
Legolas had seen him coming first. "Is that not Elrohir?"
"Huh?" said Haldir.
"Look over there."
First it appeared to Haldir as a smudge on the horizon. But Legolas’ keen eyes were hardly ever mistaken. It is Elrohir, Haldir realized, as the Elf became clearer in the dimming light, and, Haldir noticed, he is coming mighty quickly. Something is wrong, he sensed.
Two minutes later, Elrohir was beside the party of Woodelves. He dismounted, not saying a word, and headed towards Legolas and Haldir in long, deliberate strides. And Legolas noticed that many more Elves were riding quickly behind him. He realized the same thing as his friend – something is not right.
It was a good thing that Legolas had realized this change in aura in time, or he would not have been able to dodge the fast punch headed towards him by Elrohir. Many of the Soldiers of Lothlorien withdrew their long swords, but Legolas quickly held out his hand and shouted, "No! Don’t hurt him!" Legolas believed that this was really only a mistake of a fistfight, that nothing would happen.
But Elrohir thought differently. Seeing the soldiers unsheath their blades, he grabbed the handle of his own blade and in a flash had pulled it out, and took a swing at Legolas’ stomach.
A shocked and confused Legolas fell to the ground, thanking the gods that he had decided to wear his armour that day and wincing in pain. Reluctanly, he withdrew his sword and deflected a hard blow from Elrohir.
"What are you doing?!" exclaimed Legolas.
"It’s your fault!" yelled Elrohir, as he swung blow after blow at poor Legolas. "YOU started this trouble! It was because of YOU that she must stay! It was YOU that left her to die!!!"
Haldir and the soldiers stood helplessly, watching the Elves battle it out. Legolas had told them not to fight, but he had chosen to fight Elrohir himself. And Elrohir seemed like he wanted to kill Legolas. Instead, Haldir ran up to the Elves who were riding up to their party. "What is going on with Elrohir and Legolas?!" demanded Haldir of Elladan.
But Elladan did not answer; instead, he dismounted, drew his sword, and ran towards the fighting Elves, trying to pull Elrohir away from Legolas.
"Oh, Elrohir is trying to kill Legolas," explained Figwit quickly, as he, too, dismounted and joined the fray.
It did not seem that Legolas needed help though. He deflected every one of Elrohir’s blows, except, of course, the first blow that Elrohir swung. It seemed more like Elrohir needed help, as he swung his sword around like a drunken Hobbit, and tried in vain to get Legolas on his knees. Quickly Elladan grabbed his brother around the waist, and Figwit grabbed his flailing sword.
Legolas looked with wonder at Elrohir, wondering what had come over him. Elrohir’s gray eyes stared blackly towards Legolas. All the Elves present could feel the tension between Elrohir and Legolas.
"What is this?" asked Haldir.
"Legolas…" panted Elrohir. "It’s his fault…Ariane is not with us…it’s his fault…that Ariane is being held…hostage…" Elrohir slumped in his brother’s arms.
"What do you mean? She’s alive?" Legolas said, incredulous.
"Yes, she’s alive." Elladan explained. "And the Dwarves found her and are holding her hostage because the Lord of Moria claims that your father held him and his friends captive. So he wants your father to come and apologise, and pay him twenty pounds of mithril, as a compensation."
"I thought there weren’t Dwarves living in Moria anymore,"
"We all made that mistake. Now, this is what we are going to do. First, we are all going to STOP FIGHTING. We are going to Rivendell. We are going to tell Lord Glorfindel that his daughter is alive, after all, he deserves to know. We will then be under the instruction of Lord Glorfindel. It is his decision to make the next move. Ariane is his daughter, and he will be able to judge rightly. It is not our place to take matters into our own hands."
At this last remark he looked down at his brother. Elrohir looked him square in the face, and then returned a cold glare to Legolas.
"I am coming too." Legolas declared.
"Your father ordered you back to Mirkwood," Haldir warned him.
"There was no hope then. Now there is. And I am willing to face my father’s judgement in order to help Ariane in whatever way I can."
"Then I shall come too," said Haldir. "But the Soldiers should head back to Lorien to explain my absence."
"Aye, we will, Haldir," said one of the Elven-soldiers.
"Alright, then, let’s go," Elladan commanded. "And you, brother, will ride RIGHT BESIDE ME, far away from Legolas."
to be continued…
Note: Lembas = elvish waybread
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