When Legolas came to, he saw that he was in the healer’s tent. He smelled the bittersweet aroma of herbs, and took note of the fact he was in bandages. Craning his neck, he saw Aldariel sitting in a chair by his bed, fast asleep. He tried to sit up, but doing so caused him to cry out in pain. This, in turn, caused Aldariel to wake up.
“You shouldn’t be in such a hurry all the time,” she said, yawning. Legolas groaned,
” How long have I been in here?”
” About two days,” Aldariel answered. He started.
” What has been going on since the attack?” He asked.
“Let’s see,” Aldariel said thoughtfully,
“Camp has been cleaned up, and the dead have been buried. I managed to convince Farand that running off in hysterics to rescue Layiwen was going to hinder her and Deliphy, not help them, so he’s been doing his best to restrain himself.”
” And how are you holding up?” Legolas asked softly.
” I think I’m handling it slightly better than Farand, and that’s only because I know how good of fighters those two are. I’m still worried sick about them though, and despite my wise words to Farand, I’ll admit that my heart would have me do what I counseled him not to.”
Legolas dropped his head, and a wave of guilt washed over him.
” Hey,” Aldariel whispered, ” It wasn’t your fault. You did all you could to save them.”
Standing up, she said, “The Captain wanted me to tell him when you awoke. We managed to capture one of the orcs heading the raid. Farand wants to interrogate him with you present.”
Legolas nodded and raised his head. Aldariel turned to leave, lifting up the tent flap. ” Aldariel?” Legolas said, holding her back.
“Yes?” she asked, looking back at him.
“Thanks for staying with me.”
She gave him a brief smile. “What are friends for?” And then she was gone, the lightly swaying tent flap marking her departure.
The orc sat hunched over in the corner of the healer’s tent. At Captain Farand’s orders, the rest of the wounded had been partitioned off from Legolas, making this a private matter. The orc’s shifty eyes darted from one face to the next, but it seemed to Aldariel that its (Even if she could determine a gender, she wouldn’t grace such a vile creature with one.) eyes came to rest on her most often of all. Farand stepped forward and prodded the orc with his boot.
“Speak, filthy creature. Tell us your name and the name of the one who sent you.” The orc didn’t make a sound, further enraging the Captain. Unsheathing his sword, he pressed it to the creature’s neck and boomed,
“Tell me NOW!”
The orc obviously decided that its life was worth more, for it spoke in a harsh grating tone,
“My name is Gruskut. I was ordered to raid your camp and, more specifically, to bring my master the three lovely maidens who accompanied you.”
Here Gruskut looked at Aldariel and licked his lips. Farand pressed the sword harder into the orc’s neck, drawing a thin line of black blood.
“Don’t ever speak of them in such a dishonorable way again,” the Captain hissed. He stepped back and sheathed his sword; confident he had gotten his point across.
“Who sent you and why did he want the elf maidens?” Gruskut snarled,
“I was sent by one called Durndil.” Several men started and looked at each other. Gruskut grinned slyly.
“I see you’ve heard of him.”
“It can’t be true,” Legolas whispered.
“You speak lies!” Farand shouted, “We defeated him long ago.” Aldariel was confused.
“Could someone please tell me what’s going on? Who is this guy?”
“What? You mean you haven’t heard of him Princess?” Gruskut asked, feigning innocence. “A shame, since you are destined to be his.”
Aldariel glared daggers at the creature.
“Durndil was one of the great servants of darkness, one of Morgoth’s many commanders,” Legolas explained. “After Morgoth was cast into the Pit, Durndil was one of the few of his minions that survived. He built his own tower on the border of Eriador and Rohan. About twenty years ago, The Rohirrim rode out to meet him. My father sent me down with a company of elves to aid the Horse lords. We drove his forces back and destroyed him, or so we thought. Only a select few knew that he even existed, including the Riders of Rohan, and the elves of the Woodland Realm and the Leafer Kingdom. You, however, were still in Lorien and no news would have reached your ears,” he added.
Gruskut, meanwhile, had taken advantage of the fact that everyone was distracted and had managed to loosen its bonds. Now it leaped at Farand, screeching hideously. Farand turned and held up his hand, uselessly trying to ward off the blow. Suddenly, Gruskut fell dead, a knife protruding from its back. Aldariel matter-of-factly walked over and retrieved her knife.
Needless to say, it was a long time before everyone calmed down. When he had recovered from the adverse effects of shock, Legolas asked,
“What’s in the bag?” Almost everyone’s eyes turned toward the small leather pouch attached to the orc’s belt. Aldariel simply ignored the question, focusing intently on cleaning her blade. Farand bent down and pulled out a small scroll. Walking over, he handed it to Legolas who carefully unrolled it. Farand and his chief officer leaned over to read it.
The power you seek lies within a stone
Yet only three elven maids can bring it to life
Them you must use to rule the world, alone
To gain countenance sharper than a knife,
And fill all lands with sadness and strife
And now a warning to the tamer of night
If left to live, these same three maidens fair,
Will emerge victorious from your last fight.
Most of all, of this one beware,
The maid who sings like the birds of the air.
When they finished reading the message, Legolas and Farand looked at each other, then at Aldariel, who was giving her knife a final polish. Feeling eyes on her back, she turned to face them. Eyes narrowing she asked,