That night, they only stopped for two hours. No tents were pitched, and men slept around a hastily built fire, lost in fitful dreams. Beyond the firelight, Aldariel sat alone, watching the stars. Hearing footsteps, she started to unsheathe her knives, but replaced them when she recognized the soft, rhythmic placing of feet.
“I’m worried,” she said, still leaning forward, “and if Layiwen, Deliphy, or Legolas get hurt, I feel responsible.”
“What will happen will happen,” Haldir said, sitting beside her, “Destiny calls, and we can do naught but answer.”
“But I put this into motion Haldir, destiny or no. If Durndil thinks I’m dead, he will simply kill Deliphy and Layiwen, and Legolas cannot possibly rescue them on his own; yet he will try because I asked it of him. I asked him to complete the rescue and kill the dark lord.” Aldariel broke into tears. Haldir quickly gave her a hug, but could say nothing, for he feared she was right. Before long everyone awoke and there was no time for words as they headed once again in the direction the wyvern had taken.
Legolas could see at least two-dozen guards in position around the front of Durndil’s new castle. He grinned, although the smile was devoid of joy. He would not be entering through the front door. He stealthily slipped through the brush that lined the clearing until he saw what he was looking for; a small barred window located halfway up one of the walls.
Seeing no guards, he left most of his supplies, tied his horse to a tree, and then ran swiftly across the rocky clearing to the wall. Tying a loop, he threw a length of rope until it hooked on one of the stones that jutted out from the wall. As sneakily as a thief, he easily climbed to the window. The bars were rusted and looked as though they’d already been tampered with. Legolas pushed through without much effort, and slid into the dark room. To his surprise, there didn’t seem to be a door, but he was undaunted. Legolas began systematically searching the wall for loose stones. When that failed he began yelling at the top of his lungs. Crouching in the dark he waited. It didn’t take long. In a matter of minutes, a secret door slid out of the seemingly solid wall, and an orc stepped into the room. Legolas wasted no time. Quicker than thought, he jumped out of his hiding place and snapped the orc’s neck.
Once free, Legolas searched the halls. He had no problem finding the maidens’ room, as it was heavily guarded. Apparently Durndil had reason to think his walls would hold his prisoners, or maybe just these two in particular. Legolas shook his head, This is too easy.
Deliphy was biting her lip in frustration.
“I can’t stand it anymore!” She said, hands balled into fists, “There’s no way of finding out what’s going on beyond these walls; and I’m worried about Aldariel.”
Deliphy was fighting a case of claustrophobia and panic. Layiwen was having the same problems, but she dealt with things in a quieter way. She was sitting at the fountain, silently staring through the glass to their tiny garden. Deliphy eventually stopped her ranting and sat down beside her friend. A muffled thud followed by a short cry startled them, focusing their attention on the door. Soon they heard yelling, then screams, and finally, silence. Layiwen stood up, then gasped as she saw the door rattling. Deliphy quickly looked around for anything that could be used for a weapon. Settling for the water pitcher, she stood in a defensive position, ready to do battle. They heard the sound of a key being turned in a lock. When the door swung open, Deliphy took about two steps forward, wielding the pitcher, before she stopped and the makeshift weapon slipped from her numb fingers. Layiwen was the first to recover her voice.
“Legolas!” She exclaimed joyfully, stepping toward him. Then she hesitated, for no more followed the elf.
“Are you alone then Prince?” Deliphy asked, echoing her friend’s thoughts, “Where is my sister?”
Despair weighed down on Legolas’ shoulders. The grief he had been keeping at bay since he left camp threatened to well up again.
“She…fell in battle,” he said, swallowing hard.
“No,” Layiwen whispered, desperately wanting to disbelieve him.
“I’m so sorry,” Legolas choked, “It was my fault.” Surprisingly it was Deliphy who became the voice of reason, though she must have been hurting deeply.
“Come on, we can’t fall apart now. We’re in a lot of danger. Sooner or later someone will make his rounds past our door. We’ve got to get moving,” she said bravely, holding back tears.
“She’s right,” Layiwen affirmed, “Now is not the time for mourning.” Legolas nodded, face once again a mask. He pulled out his knives and handed one each to the maidens, and then he led them into the hall. As they passed around the door, Deliphy saw what had been the cause of the commotion she and Layiwen had heard. The guards who had been posted outside their door were draped across the floor in various positions. One had arrows sticking out of his back; and the other four had stab wounds and slash marks across their necks.
Legolas took Deliphy and Layiwen down a very familiar path to the two of them. Soon they were back in their old cell.
“Oh goody,” Deliphy commented sarcastically.
Ignoring her comment, Legolas said, “You can get out through here.”
“Let me guess, through a barred vent?” Layiwen asked.
“Yes,” Legolas said, with no trace of surprise. “I left my horse at the edge of the woods. Since you too are obviously elves, I know you’ll be able to find your way out of Mirkwood. The Captain and his Riders are still south of Mirkwood, unless, of course, they came after me,” Legolas said wryly.
“Wait, why won’t you be coming with us?” Layiwen asked, concerned.
“Because I made a promise to Aldariel before she died. I promised to set you two free, and then kill Durndil.”
“So you’re staying alone?” Deliphy asked incredulously.
“I must. I can’t risk anyone else’s life.”
“Legolas, you can’t!” Layiwen exclaimed.
“Look,” Deliphy said, “Aldariel was my sister. I’m going with you, no matter how you feel about it.”
“Me too,” Layiwen said stubbornly.
Legolas looked at the two of them, wanting to protest, but knowing there was nothing he could say to them once they set their mind on something.
“Let’s go get your weapons,” he said, “then we’ll get Durndil.”