Awakening was not a pleasant experience. His head hurt fiercely, his body throbbed, especially his left side and thigh. As his muddled mind cleared a bit he noticed that his hands were tied behind his back, with no regard or care for his broken arm. With the pain came the memory. He recalled the rock fall and the ensuing events. He knew that he was in a desperate situation. Nobody knew what had happened to him and there was no guarantee that Baranon had managed to escape for good and would find somebody in time. The orcs would show him no mercy, of that he was sure.
Heavy steps neared him and an iron shod boot kicked him fiercely in the side. His eyes shot open and he suppressed a gasp of pain. His captors didn't stop with that, instead more kicks rained down on him, hitting him in his back, his sides and his ribs. He suppressed a moan of pain, not willing to give the orcs the satisfaction.
After a while they stopped and one of the ugly creatures stepped in front of him. He bent down and stared at him. His face bore ugly scars and he emanated a smell that made Legolas nearly gag. His eyes appraised his captive and he smiled cruelly. Legolas fought the urge to draw back and glared back defiantly. Without warning, the orc grabbed his hair, pulled his head up and punched him in the face. "So the elf is awake," he said in crude Westron. "Time to play with him, then. You killed several of my men."
He knew he shouldn't provoke the orcs but he also knew that they would hurt him, no matter what he did. So he couldn't stop himself. "A pity that you weren't amidst them," he snarled back.
The beast roared in anger and his reward for provoking the foul creature were more punches and kicks. The orc grabbed him, claws digging deeply into his skin, and hauled him over to a tree. He pulled him up roughly and slashed his bonds with a knife, only to grab his hands and pull them up over his head. The bones in Legolas' broken arm were jarred and he hissed in pain. The orc tied his hands above his head to a tree branch, pulling him up so high that he could barely stand. The other orcs crowded around them, jeering and snarling. He looked around the camp, noting that the orcs had chosen a clearing. It was late in the day and a fire was burning a short distance away. To his relief there was no sign of Baranon, alive or dead.
The one who seemed to be the leader grabbed him by the throat, staring into his face, eyes glinting menacingly. "Time to have some fun." He tore Legolas' shirt and tunic apart, baring his back, then he went over to a space near the fire, bent down and picked something up. As he came near again, Legolas saw that he carried a whip. He wasn't unfamiliar with the things the orcs did to their prisoners. More than one warrior of Mirkwood had been captured by orcs. Some times they were lucky and could rescue them, more times than that they could only recover the remains. He knew that the orcs liked to inflict pain in their prisoners, so he braced himself.
He would never forget the whistling noise the whip made as it sliced the air. The first lash hit him and he hissed as sharp pinpricks of pain coursed through his body. Not wanting to give them the satisfaction, he gritted his teeth to prevent himself from showing pain or crying out. The next lashes fell fast and hard and his back felt like it was on fire. He couldn't prevent himself from flinching away, causing the orc to cackle in glee. The lashing went on, the strokes hitting his back and sides with brutal force. His whole back was covered with red, angry welts. As it went on, the whip broke his skin, causing blood to well up and slowly run down his back. Despite the pain, he endured silently while the brutal lashing went on for several minutes. By the time the orc finished, Legolas' back was bleeding profusely and he was hanging from the ropes keeping him upright. His broken arm was pure agony, rivaling with the pain of the weals on his back.
The orc threw the whip down and grabbed him by his hair, pulling his head up. "Not so feisty anymore, are you?" His face was mere inches from Legolas' and he could see the sharp, blackened teeth. The archer thought he would pass out from the stench. The creature punched him in the face, causing his head to snap back. Suddenly it lifted a knife and cut the rope binding him to the tree, causing him to crumble to the floor and land hard on his back. He couldn't suppress a cry of pain and the orc laughed cruelly. "Tie him up," he ordered his minions, "we will have more fun with him later."
Two orcs grabbed him, pulled his hands behind his back roughly and bound him again. They kicked him a few times then they left to join their comrades eating their meal.
Legolas rolled onto his side, breathing through the pain. His back hurt fiercely and his wounds throbbed, a clear signal that the weapons had been poisoned. His situation was more than dire. He knew the orcs wouldn't stop with the whipping. Who knew what their cruel minds would come up with. He heard the orcs speaking in black speech and it hurt to hear this foul language. After a while, heavy footsteps came near again and he tensed in anticipation.
Elladan and Elrohir, the sons of Lord Elrond of Imladris, had decided to join Glorfindel and his warriors on a patrol to the Hithaeglir. They regularly went on patrols in an attempt to keep the orc population at a manageable level. This time they wanted to check out a few known hiding spots. They also expected to meet Legolas and his escort on their way to Imladris. They would join them and accompany them the last leg of the journey. The twins were looking forward to meeting their friend once more. It had been years since they had last seen each other.
They made good progress as they followed the path winding its way through the foothills, the weather was nice and so they were in a good mood as they slowly made their way up the mountain. Glorfindel, who took the lead, suddenly stiffened and listened. The others watched him tensely.
"Hoofbeats," he explained, "they are fast approaching, someone is in a hurry."
They watched the path in anticipation, waiting for the rider to approach.
The noise was now clearly discernible and it didn't take long for a rider to appear on the path in front of them, drawing near fast. They all could see that he was wearing the colors of Mirkwood and they looked at each other warily, knowing that it didn't bode well for a single rider to head for Imladris in a rush.
Elrohir finally recognized him. "Amarthon," he murmured. The warrior had accompanied Legolas on his last visit to Imladris.
Amarthon stopped his horse in front of them. He looked deeply troubled. "Lord Glorfindel, Lords Elladan and Elrohir," he greeted. "It is good to see you again. In fact it is a most lucky circumstance that you are here." He pointed at the path behind him. "We were surprised by a rockfall yesterday and we need help."
Apprehensive murmurs from the Imladrian elves followed his announcement and Glorfindel immediately took charge. "What do you need?" he inquired.
"We have a few warriors with minor injuries, three are seriously injured and we lost two horses." He took a deep breath. "Our prince was the first to notice the rockslide. He saw to it that everybody made it to safety..." Amarthon gestured helplessly with his hands. "We lost track of him," he whispered. "We don't know if he was buried beneath the stones or made his escape in another direction."
Glorfindel and the twins exchanged dismayed and alarmed gazes.
"Show us the place," Glorfindel ordered.
Amarthon turned his horse around and started to lead the group to where the other Mirkwood warriors tended their injured and searched desperately for their prince.
The footsteps halted next to him and someone gripped his hair and pulled his head up. Once more Legolas saw the ugly face of the leader. The malice in the orc's eyes made him shudder inwardly. He tried to hide his apprehension, putting up a front of defiance.
The orc was playing with a knife, running his misshapen fingers along its edge. He stared at his captive considering, obviously thinking about what to do next. "Well, elf, time for some more fun," he growled. His gaze wandered over his captive. "Looks like we missed your right side." He bent down and slowly ran his hand along Legolas' chest and ribs. The elf had to suppress a shudder at the touch. Suddenly the knife drove down, piercing Legolas' right side, the orc pressing down hard on it. Legolas gasped in shock, trying instinctively to pull back but he was pinned to the floor. Fiery pain flooded him as the knife was driven deep into his flesh. The hand holding it was not giving an inch, the orc laughing cruelly as he watched the elf struggle. He pulled the knife back a bit and shoved it back in, twisting it in the wound to cause more pain.
By now Legolas was panting, dark spots dancing in front of his vision. He couldn't suppress a moan as the knife was twisted in his wound. Finally, after what seemed an eternity, the orc pulled the knife back, standing over his captive and admiring his handiwork as blood poured from the wound. His minions cackled gleefully, finding pleasure in the suffering their leader caused the elf. He kicked Legolas in the ribs a few times for good measure, then he looked around, considering what to do next.
As the elves reached the scene of the rockslide, Glorfindel could see the extent of rubble. The whole pace was blocked with a wall of smaller and bigger stones, big boulders and rubble. The Mirkwood warriors had set up camp a short distance away. Four warriors cared for the injured, while five more were working at the scene, searching for Legolas and trying to clear the rubble so far that a passage was possible. There was an air of desperation about them.
Tinwion, who was working with the other elves on clearing the path, turned around as they approached and came to greet them.
"My Lords, I don't know what fortunate occurrence brought you here, but we need every help we can get."
Glorfindel wasted no time. "Amarthon told us what happened." He turned to his warriors and motioned for them to dismount and make themselves useful. Then he returned his attention back to Tinwion. "Amarthon said that Legolas is missing?"
Tinwion swallowed visibly. "Yes. He was the first to notice what happened and stayed back to make sure we all made for safety. We didn't see what happened to him but he didn't make it to this side." The look he gave Glorfindel was full of horror and dread. "We fear for him. Please help us searching."
Elrohir dismounted and went to the rubble, surveying the extent of the rockslide. "How much time was left before it hit the path?" he asked.
Tinwion thought for a moment. "It all happened pretty fast, enough time for Legolas to call a warning and to spur us on. Maybe ten to fifteen seconds."
Elladan joined his brother. "What do you think?"
"Legolas is smart. We should consider that he went in another direction. Let's take a few warriors and try to bypass this part of the path. Maybe he went down the mountain, trying to outrun the rockslide."
Glorfindel looked down the mountain thoughtfully. "It's steep, but maybe a horse could manage. At least it would have been a chance." He suddenly sprang into action, turning and going back to his horse. "We will leave most warriors to help you, while we go and search for him." He turned to his warriors. "Istaon, Latharo, you are with us. The rest, do what Tinwion tells you to do."
Tinwion nodded gratefully. "I pray to the Valar that he isn't beneath this rubble. May you succeed in your search. Please send word immediately."
"Of course," Glorfindel assured him. The five elves turned their horses around and made their way back the path, searching for a good spot to go down the mountain.
By now Legolas was certain that he would die at the hands of the orcs. It had been at least a day since they had captured him and it seemed that there was no hope left. His strength was leaving him rapidly and he felt the poison spreading in his body. The blood from the stab wound slowly drenched the ground. He thought about his father and felt deep sorrow. There was a good chance that Thranduil would never know what had happened to him and the uncertainty would haunt his father. He hoped that he would think that Legolas had perished in the rockslide and would never discover the truth. He also hoped that he would endure, for their people's sake. Mirkwood needed its king.
The orcs had left him alone for a few hours after another beating but now it seemed they were bored again.
Heavy footsteps neared him and suddenly sharp claws gripped his shoulders and he was dragged over to the fire. The orc dropped him there, not caring that he fell onto his injured side. He gritted his teeth, trying not to let them see his pain because he knew that would only encourage them further.
The orcs talked in black speech with each other for a moment, then the leader bent over him. "My men want their fun with you too, Narthzug came up with a most interesting idea." He grinned maliciously, exposing his blackened teeth. Legolas tried not to gag at the stench.
The orc the leader had indicated bared his teeth at Legolas, then he bent down and put the blade of a knife into the fire.
Legolas had a dark suspicion what they intended. He felt dread rising and didn't know how much longer he would be able to endure their torture with some dignity. He didn't want to show them fear, knowing they would show him no mercy and only relish in his pain and terror.
After a few minutes Narthzug took the knife by the hilt, pulling it out of the flames. The blade had been heated to a glowing red. The orc stepped over to him and knelt down beside him. Three others held him down firmly. Despite his bound hands he tried to struggle, but one orc dealt him a blow to his head, temporarily stunning him. Narthzug grinned at him and said something in black speech. Finally he lowered the knife and pressed the side of the hot blade firmly against his ribcage.
At first Legolas felt only a slight warmth, but after a moment the pain erupted, the hot blade searing his skin. The smell of burning flesh permeated the air and the pain lanced through him, leaving him breathless. His mouth opened in a silent scream and he couldn't draw breath for the pain paralyzed him. His whole body seemed to be on fire.
The orcs laughed cruelly and Narthzug once again said something in their crude language.
The leader laughed approvingly and turned to Legolas. "Don't think that was all, elf," he growled. Narthzug just made a very good suggestion. He barked something that seemed to be an order and two orcs pulled Legolas' boots off. "We don't want you to be able to escape somehow, don't we?" He touched the burned skin and pressed down cruelly, leaving Legolas gasping with pain.
By now Legolas only wished that it would end soon. The agony was pulsing through him, making his wounds throb. He wished for the darkness to claim him, to send him into oblivion.
The orcs didn't do him the favor. After the knife was reheated, two orcs grabbed his right leg and Narthzug pressed the blade to the sole of his foot. The pain was even worse than the first time they burned him, the nerves in his sole increasing the torture. The orcs laughed maliciously at the elf that writhed in agony on the ground. Later he wouldn't remember if he screamed, he only remembered the fire that seemed to alight his body. He barely noticed as they moved to his left foot, causing the same damage as before. Finally, the pain was getting too much and a black abyss rose up to swallow him.
This chapter contains torture and violence. The orcs are not nice creatures after all.
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