1. The Apple of His Eye
The Apple of His Eye
Being your slave, what should I do but tend
Upon the hours and times of your desire?
I have no precious time at all to spend,
Nor services to do, till you require.
Nor dare I chide the world-without-end hour,
Whilst I, my sovereign, watch the clock for you,
Nor think the bitterness of absence sour
When you have bid your servant once adieu.
Nor dare I question with my jealous thought
Where you may be, or your affairs suppose,
But, like a sad slave, stay and think of naught
Save where you are, how happy you make those.
So true a fool is love that in your will,
Though you do any thing, he thinks no ill.
"Sonnets", William Shakespeare
Eryn Galen, Nínui 2850, Third Age of Arda
From the shadows, he watched the warrior splash frigid water over his bare skin to wash the soap away, and heard the curse that followed. He almost chuckled, and still he waited. His prey ducked under the surface of the fast flowing stream and emerged with a loud splutter, wringing his hair before wading hastily to the rocky bank. The observer had ample opportunity to devour with his eyes the object of his attention, while he imagined his hands sliding over the cool, glistening skin.
At the precise moment when the warrior was busy doing up the fastenings of his trousers, the stalker struck. Silent and fast, he ran across the grass onto the boulders and pinned his victim's arms to his sides with his own, just below the elbows.
'Yield!' he demanded in a whisper, which he hoped conveyed his desire as much as the pressure of his hard arousal against his captive's rear.
'Morgoth's bollocks, Legolas, you made my heart jump out of my mouth!' cried the annoyed warrior, wriggling but unable to free himself. 'Let go of me, you fool, so that I can get dressed.'
Legolas acquiesced, after planting a quick kiss on the enticing neck. He raked his fingernails slowly down the hard muscles of his lover's shoulders and arms, and smiled at the way he surrendered longingly to his touch.
'I am unable to help myself,' laughed Legolas, 'when you show yourself so wantonly, Noruion, as if you know I am watching.'
'There is nothing wanton about freezing my balls in the river.' Noruion frowned deeply in mock annoyance, while he shrugged into his shirt and fumbled with its fastenings, shivering a little. A seductive smile spread over his face. 'I shall give you wanton in a few days, my lord, as soon as we are back at...'
He stopped abruptly when Legolas raised his hand, commanding silence. Both men listened intently. The forest was quiet. Unnaturally so. Legolas unslung his strung bow from his back. Noruion picked up his own, along with his quiver and knives, and they found cover while nocking arrows to their strings.
Soon afterwards, a shrill pattern of whistles, the alarm call advising of immediate attack, echoed under the boughs of the forest.
Orcs, at least fifty of them, burst out of the thick undergrowth downstream from the Elves' hiding place. They crossed the rivulet in a few strides, but not before several were felled by green fletched shafts, none of which missed their mark.
Unfortunately, the arrows declared the warriors' position to the enemy, who roared as they charged against them. The two Elves ran towards their nearby camp as fast as they could, while turning to shoot at the enemy throng at every opportunity.
Another group of Orcs jumped across their path, forcing them to stop, when they were so close to their destination that they could already hear the whistle of friendly arrows and the clash of blades. Legolas signalled for help, and kept shooting, unerringly delivering death to his foes. In the eye, through the neck, in the gap of their crude hide and iron armour under the arm, none of his targets stood up again. His friend and lover covered his back, with similar results against the second group.
More foul creatures poured through the trees in dismayingly large numbers. The Elves' quivers were emptying rather too quickly, until they had no choice but to throw their beloved bows to the ground and unsheathe their long knives, ready to sell their lives dear.
'See you in Bannoth,' shouted Legolas over the din, and he howled the Tawarren war cry.
'May we meet again, friend,' answered Noruion, while he stabbed a club-wielding Orc who had the temerity to walk within reach of his deadly blades.
For a while, the Elves kept the rabble away, but in the end they succumbed, when the Orcs advanced without regard for their own fate and too fast for the two friends to even pull their knives out of their falling bodies. While the foul vermin pummelled him to the ground, Legolas realised with a pang of shock that he might be taken alive. It was too late to do anything about it or even to feel fear, because a sharp blow to his head sent him spinning into darkness.
An unknown time later, he came to, his body numb and his face blasted by freezing gusts of wind that felt like a thousand pins piercing his skin. He began to squirm, only to feel a firm hand push his neck down.
'Stay still, scum!' cried a gruff voice. Defiantly, he ignored the command, and tried to move away. A strange sound, like the flapping of large wings riding the rushing wind, was the last thing he heard before the stars sparked again within his skull and oblivion claimed him.
~ o ~
The Lord of Dol Guldur watched his dark-robed servant stride into the room and bend his knee before him. Skeletal hands grasped the pommel of the unsheathed longsword, offered in fealty. The Dark Lord had certainly no wish to touch his minion's undead skin, mottled with sickly patches of a rotten-like texture, and instead ordered him to stand.
'Well, Khamûl?' he asked.
The Nazgûl raised his head, and the black orbs set within deep eye sockets seemed to glow alive for a brief instant. At his signal, a shuffling troop of Orcs entered, manhandling two bound and blindfolded captives.
The Dark Lord admired the prize that his servant had stalked, ambushed and seized at his behest, before he commanded that the prisoners be allowed to see. He watched the two men blink dazedly, and in their faces he read the familiar mixture of fear at the realisation of their plight and the stubborn will not to yield, to which so very few managed to cling for long. He almost licked his lips in relish at the prospect of toying with these emotions, tweaking them from hope to terror and despair.
Despite their bonds, the Mirkwood warriors kept struggling and were cuffed ruthlessly by their guards, so that they momentarily abandoned their resistance and instead glared as fiercely as they could. As the silence lengthened, the Dark Lord noticed their eyes darting over the richly appointed chamber, no doubt searching for means of escape, and he was amused by their frowns of puzzlement, maybe at not finding themselves buried within a bleak, dark dungeon. There was no lack of sinister black pits in the lowest levels of his domain, and his guests might enjoy them later, maybe. For now, he wished to play a different game.
Their attention finally turned to Khamûl and then to him. While one of the prisoners shuddered and averted his eyes, the fairer Elf stared insolently.
'Release us!' he demanded, and pierced him with a glare that bristled with hatred.
In the tall stance and tense litheness of his captive and in the blaze of his eyes, the Dark Lord sensed a fascinating streak of wildness, reined in by training and caution, that he would like to explore further. A son of the forest indeed.
'Pray, tell me, Thranduilion, why would I do that?' retorted the Lord, openly smirking at the dismay reflected in his prisoner's eyes. No doubt the king's whelp had hoped to keep his identity secret.
Khamûl's sinister laughter rumbled in the large chamber, but died abruptly when his master glanced at him in deep annoyance. The Nazgûl displayed, without a shred of doubt, the more menacing figure of the two, wrapped in his smoky robes and unshakeable aura of dread, the tell-tale scent of his unnatural existence in the material world to which his ring chained him.
In contrast, for this audience the Dark Lord had set aside his galvorn armour and tall helmet, which converted him into the dreadful sight that customarily made his prisoners cower and whimper at his feet. Instead, his slaves had clad him in fine dark blue silk and braided and looped his hair in the style common in the lands of Khand. His eyes were lined in black kohl, his hands gloved in soft kidskin, to disguise the maiming inflicted by the accursed blade of Elendil. The memory of his most humiliating defeat and the loss of the One Ring again flared hot within his gut, as it had ever done since the end of the last Age.
'Who are you, Necromancer?' snarled Legolas, masking his fear well. 'What foul pit spawned you?'
Clearly, the Elves were not awed overmuch by the presence of the true master of Dol Guldur. Time to dispel their misconception.
'My names are many, but they are irrelevant to your plight,' he spoke mildly, but with a practiced edge of menace. 'For now, all that matters is that your fate is in my hands. You would do well to curb your insolence.'
The son of Thranduil pulled desperately against the Orcs holding him, but the servants of Dol Guldur knew too well that their master did not suffer incompetence lightly and they all but knocked their captive down in their zeal. Wincing from pain, Legolas staggered to stand again. Interestingly, his quieter companion showed utter distress at his companion's mistreatment, and he also began to fret once more in his captors' grasp.
The Dark Lord snapped his fingers. A slave that had remained in the background until then came to crouch by his feet to wait for his command.
'I have discovered the perfect cure for arrogance, Thranduilion.'
He grabbed the thrall's shorn hair to make him lift his bowed head and turn it to his captives. Without resistance, the creature complied. The Elves gasped in horror at the sight of one of their own, but the slave did not flinch.
'Handir!' cried the second Elf. He trembled violently, tears threatening to fall from his eyes. 'No! No... I thought... we believed you were dead...'
The Orcs jeered and laughed when he almost collapsed, and their claws yanked him up again.
'No doubt there have been numerous times over the last... what, about one hundred and thirty years, when he has wished that you were right,' spoke the Dark Lord.
He caressed the slave's pointed ear tips, turned the face upwards, and studied the fair but empty mien, the all but dead eyes. Only after a long, painful fight had his once proud prisoner learnt how to yield to his master's will, and to be impervious, at least outwardly, to all else.
'As you seem to recognise him, I need not elaborate on what your fate will be if you decide to defy me,' he added. 'He is now a silent and faithful servant, and answers to a more fitting name. Do you not, Húvaen, my clever dog?'
The thrall nodded shyly while Noruion's roar of fury was smothered by the growling Orcs, who clubbed him without mercy. When he was pulled up to his feet once more, his captor chuckled at his impotent wrath. Baiting the haughty Elves was far too easy.
'If my good Húvaen could speak, he would tell you that I prize obedience in my thralls above all other attributes.'
'We will never be your thralls, Sorcerer!' shouted Legolas ferociously.
'Oh, but you will,' purred the Dark Lord. He approached his prisoners and cruelly grabbed Legolas' jaw in his fingers. 'I admire your courage, believe me, Thranduilion, I do. Sadly, I am uncertain about your ability to keep your admirable purpose for long. You see, your disobedience, however slight, will bring punishment on him.' He gave a meaningful smile and a glance at the other man. 'In turn, his defiance will be paid by my loyal Húvaen, who once used to scream for his little brother... what was his name... Noruion, maybe?'
Both captives had paled in dread, and they renewed their futile struggles. The stone chamber rang with their cries of rage, propitious tokens of an exhilarating contest of wills. The Dark Lord could have listened to them for far longer but he had two realms to rule.
'Take them away!' he ordered.
He watched in amusement as both men fought to stall their captors in order to exchange final looks of longing and shouts of reassurance before they were led, separately, out of the room. Oh, yes, it would be most entertaining to crumble their spirits slowly.
'I am pleased with you, Khamûl. When I tire of my new toys, I might let you have them. For now, return to Lugbúrz at once.'
The Dark Lord had to hide his distaste at the grimace that, in his servant's undead expression, served as a smile of greed.
~ o ~
Hiding his despair, Legolas kept up his resistance until the leather cords that tied his wrists at his back were cut and he was shoved roughly through a heavy door, which was slammed loudly behind him. As he stood up, the key turned in the lock with a clang, the ominous sound of captivity. He shouted and when blood returned to his numb arms, he pounded savagely on the door with his fists, allowing pain to mask his fear. Nobody answered, and he desisted at last.
Defeated, he sat against the door. From a grim conversation many years past when he joined the ranks of warriors, he knew that his father would not be swayed by any demands from the Necromancer or his minions if they tried to use him as a pawn. Despite the sliver of gladness this certainty gave him, he winced at the thought of the news reaching the king, of his hope to ever see his son alive dying slowly as the seasons and years changed.
He angrily wiped the tears that came to his eyes, and clenched his hands, hardening his resolve to fight. Noruion and he would flee together, he vowed; they would find a way to regain their freedom and return to the Greenwood.
Legolas scanned his prison to evaluate his options as his instructors had drummed into him during many years of training. Not for the first time since his capture, he was surprised. Where he had expected a stark, filthy stone cell there was a clean room, lit by the light pouring through a barred window, high on the wall. There was a large canopied bed, made with fine linen sheets and fur blankets, a heavy oak table and two chairs, a washbasin, a round wooden bathtub in a corner and a vast fireplace, where no fire burnt. He walked slowly around his domain and realised, to his amazement, that the bath was full with hot water, and that a set of clean clothes was laid neatly on the bed, while a plate of food, a jug and a cup waited on the table. There were no eating fork or knife, though.
He crouched into the fireplace and discovered a strong iron grill barring the narrow flue. Escape was impossible that way. Moving the table to stand under the window, he stepped onto it to look into a paved courtyard, several levels below. With a pang, he glimpsed an enticing mass of trees over the bulk of the tall outer wall of the fortress. He jumped down from the table and eyed the food.
'Legolas Thranduilion, you are hungry and you stink,' he murmured to himself. Then he laughed. 'So soon into my confinement and I am already talking to myself. This is not good.'
He wavered. Would it compromise his defiance against the enemy to eat or to have a bath? His father had always taught him to be pragmatic. Starving himself to death may be the only way out of torment one day, but not yet. He filled the wooden cup with water, brought it to his lips and stopped in sudden alarm. Would it be poisoned, or laced with a spell?
'It is safe to drink,' spoke a voice from the door. Inside the room stood the Necromancer, alone. Legolas had not heard the key in the lock, or his steps on the floor. Was he truly a mighty sorcerer?
'Why would I believe you?' retorted Legolas, slapping the cup back on the table, untouched.
'Because I could have slain you already, or have you hanging from hooks as we speak, to let my Orcs entertain themselves with their crude games.'
'Is that what you have done with my friend?' Legolas tried to keep his voice from wavering.
'Look again out of the window.'
The Elf rushed to climb on top of the table and press his face to the bars. Down in the courtyard he saw... He sucked in his breath. Noruion stood, in his shirt and trousers but barefoot, in the midst of a group of Orcs.
'Wave at them; they are waiting,' commanded his captor.
Legolas did, and he also cried out, in case Noruion could hear him. He was rewarded with his lover's face looking up and waving in return. Then, he watched him be led away. When Noruion was gone from his sight, he stepped down to the floor.
'You have the son of the King of the Greenwood in your clutches. Noruion is of no worth to you. Let him go!' His words were spoken haughtily, but a plea they remained.
'You offer nothing in return for his freedom, which makes me decline your petition. But even if you had something to barter with, you are wrong. Your friend is invaluable, if only to force your compliance.'
Legolas opened his mouth to speak, but his foe raised his hand to stall him.
'Spare me your protests and listen carefully. While you do my will, your friend will stay in one piece. I cannot guarantee his... comfort, though. To start with, he has been locked underground. If you please me, he may see the sun again, or be given warm food and a blanket to ward off the chill; if you cross me, or attempt to flee, I will make it my very own business that he begs for his death not once, but a thousand times. I will not explain these rules again. Have you understood?'
The captive shivered in renewed horror.
'I have, but...'
'Silence! Prove you have listened. Strip and get in the bath. It is getting cold.'
Legolas hesitated. Was there no choice other than enduring such humiliation?
'Would fifty stripes on the soft skin of your lover's back sway your mind in the right direction?' purred the silver voice of his captor.
Legolas bit his lip and pushed his fingernails into his palms, resisting the urge to strike at the loathed enemy that so easily forced his obedience. Defiantly, he glowered as he took his clothes off and threw them on the floor. Then he stomped towards the bathtub, stepped in and sat down, making the water overflow onto the floor with a splash.
'Must I tell you what you are to do next, as if you were a child? Or do you perhaps wish me to come and lather you?'
At these words, Legolas gritted his teeth, grabbed the soap which, he noticed, was even finer than the one he used in his home, and began to wash. His tormentor remained silent, and for a few instants Legolas relished the illusion that he was free, back from the patrol and in his father's halls.
Too soon, the pleasant daydream shattered. How many of his warriors lay dead? Why could he not join them instead of becoming the Necromancer's latest toy? Was his lover being mistreated, or worse? The shock at recognising Noruion's long-lost brother, who had taught him to catch fish with his fingers when he was a boy, would have made him sick, had his stomach not been empty.
Without rush, he fastidiously soaped and combed his hair, to free it of tangles, before rinsing it with water in a bucket by the tub. The simple pleasure of clean, warm water pouring over his head spurred his guilt when he recalled his lover, buried in a dank cage of heartless stone.
More waves and splattered water followed as he came out of the tub, but they provoked no comment from his watcher. Legolas realised that there was nothing to dry himself with, so he stripped the water from his skin with his hands. When he raised his head, his captor's predatory stare startled him. With a growl, Legolas ripped a fur blanket from the bed and wrapped it around him. Then he walked around to reach the garments laid out for him, ever dreading an order that would make him stop, but it never came. He dressed as fast as he could, and even found a pair of soft suede shoes to shield his feet from the chill of the granite floor.
'Good. Now you shall eat.'
The Dark Lord mockingly invited his unwilling guest to sit at the table next to him. In silence, Legolas complied, and began to eat. Despite his hunger, every morsel stuck in his throat at the thought of Noruion. Only when he finished the last crumb did his fiendish host stand and walk towards the door.
'One of my servants will give your friend shoes and a blanket, as well as some gruel. Sweet dreams, Thranduilion.'
With that farewell, the Necromancer waved his hand and the lock opened, without a key. Almost like a shadow, he stepped out of the room. The door was locked, leaving Legolas drowning in hopelessness.
~ o ~
Cause and effect was a simple lesson to learn. Over the last three days, the Dark Lord had shown Legolas the consequences of his decisions, both good and poor. He was pleased with the progress his prisoner had made.
During his second visit, the son of Thranduil had stubbornly reverted to his initial defiance, possibly to test the truth of his enemy's words, thus triggering the removal of all of his friend's clothes. Not just that, but Legolas' failure to perform any of the simple tasks he commanded had also earned his friend the dreaded fifty lashes, meted out in his full view from his vantage point over the courtyard. The ensuing foiled attack and escape attempt, driven by unwise wrath at the sight of his lover's bleeding back, had resulted in fifty lashes more and a set of heavy irons. His recalcitrant captive had only capitulated when he found out what he risked next.
'Will your pretty friend be less of a warrior if I order that the fingers of his right hand be removed?' asked the Lord of Dol Guldur thoughtfully, as he mimicked the drawing of a bow with his arms. Legolas froze in terror.
From that moment onwards, he hastened to do what he was commanded, however humiliating, without complaint or hesitation, but the fire in his eyes was far from quenched.
Oh, the son of Thranduil was truly magnificent, a pleasure to the sight and a promise of sweet delights to come. Soon enough, if all went according to plan.
'I want you to be my willing companion tonight, to please me in ways my slaves cannot,' ordered the Dark Lord, soon after he entered Legolas' room on the fourth day. 'Come with me, and remember your lessons well. Your lover may be thankful if you do.'
He almost smirked when the Elf bit the inside of his mouth to silence his outrage. Once outside the room, they walked along a short corridor and up several flights of stairs, until they reached his chambers. He was proud of the doors he had wrought from the white oaks that had once graced the entrance of his enemy's home. His companion did not pause to appreciate his exquisite workmanship, and instead stormed ahead of him across the threshold.
Húvaen waited, crouched in his usual corner. A quick inspection of the room proved to the Dark Lord that his slave had done an excellent job of removing anything, however seemingly harmless, that would make a potential weapon, and had arranged food and drink in abundance. The fire burnt high, making the chamber pleasantly warm.
'Leave us, Húvaen. Stay outside in case I need you,' he commanded.
~ o ~
A desperate anguish had overwhelmed the son of Thranduil when he watched Noruion suffer the consequences of his foolishly pushing the boundaries. Lashing out in rage against their foe had only ended in agony for his lover; now, Legolas knew that he had no option but to do what his captor commanded.
Perhaps once he could convince the Necromancer that he was subdued, he would be given enough freedom to devise an escape plan, but at the time the stakes were far too high. To risk the terrible punishment that the Necromancer had threatened to inflict on Noruion was unthinkable. Only if he was asked to imperil his father's realm or his people in any way would he consider further disobedience, but so far the Necromancer had not questioned him about the defences of the Greenwood. It was only his pride that he had been forced to surrender.
With the image of embracing his lover in his mind and a silent vow to make it come true, he faced his enemy as calmly as he could.
'Please me!' was the order he received.
Legolas did, oh yes, he did for many hours. And yet, the night ended in disaster.
At first, tears of loathing had run down his cheeks, hastily wiped away to avoid a reprimand or worse. But then he had discovered that if he closed his eyes and thought of Noruion, clinging to the hope that one day they would regain their freedom together, his ordeal became more bearable.
When the Necromancer asked him to dance for him, he swayed and twirled with the memory of the stars circling above him, of trees rustling in the summer breeze, of cool grass under his feet, and the hypnotic rhythm of drums wrapping him and his lover in a world apart.
When he bent to caress and lick, he thought of Noruion's scent, of his beloved skin coming up in goose bumps of anticipation, of his hardness pressing teasingly against him, of his warm lips and his playful teeth.
He was startled to feel his foe touching him back, provoking all the right reactions despite his own reluctance. Berating himself for enjoying something he should hate, he did not dare refuse the hands that skilfully stirred his desire, for fear of reprisal.
When a knee parted his legs, he fought, but only until a hand wrapped itself in his hair and the other wriggled its fingers before him, in a stark reminder of the price of failure. Then, as he was breached, he clamped his eyes shut and dreamt of his lover's face, twisted and beautiful in pleasure. Under the onslaught of firm fingers on his cock aiding the piercing fire that wrought ecstasy with each and every thrust, he teetered over the edge, and was shocked when he convulsed and his seed spilled at the same time as his tormentor found his own release.
Once he regained his breath, he was both puzzled and guilty, nay, angry that there had been pleasure. He had feared pain and degradation far less than being forced to mock the joy of love making with someone he despised. When he opened his eyes again, he met the sly smile of his captor and felt a blaze go up his cheeks.
'You must be hungry,' said the Necromancer, and pulled him gently towards the table where food was served.
The hand clamped about his wrist was no longer encased in a glove. Legolas noticed that one of its fingers was missing and, with a start, he realized the true identity of his captor. Terrified, he jerked back his arm without meaning to, but could not free it from the iron grip. When he raised his gaze from the maimed hand into the eyes of his gaoler, he knew that his discovery was written all over his face.
'Sauron!' he spat, almost reeling from shock.
'You shall never use that appellative,' said the Dark Lord coldly. 'You may call me Mairon or "my lord", for now.'
He released his hold. Legolas struggled to control his shaking, suddenly feeling sick. While he fought down nausea, he noticed Handir entering the room and kneeling at Sauron's feet. The Dark Lord hissed an order in his hideous tongue and the slave bowed his head lower and crawled away hastily. Soon, several soldiers arrived and seized Legolas.
'I did not mean to fail you, Mairon!' he shouted, before the Orcs wrangled him out of the room. 'Let me be the one to pay for my mistake! I promise...'
Sauron did not even look in his direction. The door closed, and the naked prisoner was manhandled back down the stairs and locked in his room, where he was unable to sleep for the rest of the night, fearing what his careless slight might mean for his lover.
The following day, Mairon entered Legolas' room ready to crush any rebellious streak. Things had gone so well until the son of Thranduil had stumbled over his real identity, he could not risk losing what he had achieved so far.
Legolas was standing on the table, his knuckles white from the strength with which his fists were clenched on the iron bars of the window, his gaze riveted on the scene below. Mairon had carefully laid out the stage before he climbed the stairs: a half-naked prisoner, shivering in the cold wind, flanked by two huge Orcs; a large wooden block in the centre of the paved area, against which rested a gleaming curved sword; a small Easterling man, one of the leeches, busy preparing his instruments and clean bandages on a table by the side, to ensure that the procedure would not end up with an Elf bleeding to death.
At the sound of his steps, Legolas turned to face him and jumped hastily from the table, anxious, nay, glad at his arrival. Desperate too.
'Mairon...' he began. Dismay seeped into his features when he saw the Dark Lord shake his head. 'Please..., lord.' The plea came out chokingly.
'You know what my rules demand, Legolas,' said his foe sternly. The opportunity to toy with his captive and gain an advantage was irresistible. 'Tell me, why would I not command the punishment?'
'Did you not like what you had last night, what I gave you?' argued his captive, tilting his chin up. 'I was not ready to stop when you had me removed.'
'You spoiled my mood for further frolicking,' replied Mairon curtly, while hiding a smile at the cocky provocation.
'Then give me another chance, now that I know who you are!' protested Legolas.
'Would you lie with me, despite that?'
'What difference does it make?' argued the Elf, bitterly. 'My fellow warrior is your hostage, and I shall protect him while my heart beats in my body.'
'At what price, Thranduilion?' The Dark Lord raised his bare right hand and ran a strand of Legolas' hair through his fingers.
'At any cost to myself alone,' replied Legolas, without flinching. 'My fealty, however, lies with my lord Thranduil.'
'Very noble of you,' laughed Mairon. 'I am not demanding that much for now, only that you abide by my rules. Tonight you shall be mine again, and we will postpone any discussion about your friend until tomorrow.'
He offered his hand to the Elf, an invitation to join him. He was surprised when Legolas lifted it and kissed his wrist gently. Gratitude, or something else?
'May I ask you one thing, Mairon?'
'Indeed you may.'
'I had learnt that the Dark Lord was hideous to behold, no longer able to shape himself into a fair hue.' Legolas frowned, as if recalling a memory. 'Except for your missing finger and a scar near your collarbone, you are nothing if not beautiful.'
'That is history for you, Thranduilion, lies shaped by the victorious peoples of Ennor to be fed to their children with their mother's milk,' sighed Mairon. 'When I conquer the world, I will have legends written about monstrous demons living in a dark cave in the far West over the sea, ruled by a tyrant called Manwë, whose spouse is a shrivelled old hag called Varda.'
To his credit, Legolas remained impassive, even if the offence to Elbereth must have made his stomach roil.
'Yet another reason to wish for your defeat, Mairon,' he objected weakly.
'Let us eat,' waved the Dark Lord.
~ o ~
Legolas spent five more nights in Sauron's chambers. True to his word, he threw himself wholeheartedly into the task of satisfying his gaoler's lust, which he discovered to be almost insatiable. In exchange, he had not heard a word about his lover, but he had not asked, in the hope that the strict rules would be forgotten in the light of his feigned meekness.
After the fifth night, Sauron let him stay in his chambers, instead of having him taken back to his small room, but he left Handir with him.
'Handir, I would speak to you,' asked Legolas, almost as soon as they were alone.
The thrall ignored him, and set himself to his tasks, only stopping when a strong hand grasped his arm. Legolas felt the muscles tense under the skin.
'I need to know about your brother. How is he?'
As a response, Handir shrugged his shirt off his shoulders. His back was covered by a multitude of recent welts, some of them bloodied and barely closed.
'What happened?' cried Legolas.
The slave dipped his finger in the soapy water of the bucket he was going to use to wash the floor and wrote two words on the light tiles. 'Fled. Caught.'
As soon as he finished, he wiped more water over his signs, to erase any trace, and shaking his head, he refused to answer the questions that Legolas, desperate to know more, threw at him. With a grunt, the thrall knocked on the door, which was opened from the outside and closed again behind him.
That evening, Legolas almost assaulted Sauron as he entered.
'Where is Noruion? What have you done to him?' he cried.
'I see I must give Húvaen another lesson about the wisdom of discretion,' frowned the Dark Lord.
'He is not at fault, I cornered him until he told me. Let him be!'
'How I deal with my thralls is none of your concern,' replied Sauron with asperity. 'To answer your questions, your precious beloved cut the throat of an incompetent guard and let himself out of his cell three days ago. Instead of climbing the tower two steps at a time to come to rescue you, as I had expected, he made straight for the gate. How predictably stupid. He was captured, of course, and his brother was punished harshly before him. I described to him in great detail how you had toiled for the niceties he had thoughtlessly forfeited. At first, he refused to believe me, then he begged me to kill him when I ordered that he be thrown into the pits, whence none have ever escaped. At length we reached an understanding of sorts. As we speak, he is no doubt appreciating the comforts of a room like yours, after a long, most fascinating conversation about your father's realm. He had been stubbornly tongue-tied on the matter until then...'
Legolas shuddered, wondering whether to believe his foe's account of the events. Noruion would never leave without him, or resent his efforts to keep them both alive and unharmed. He would not...
Suddenly, he was overwhelmed by a surge of confused feelings. Relief that his lover was still alive. Rage at Sauron for his cruelty. Frustration at his own helplessness. But also anger at Noruion who had been unable to bide his time. Worse still, if Sauron was telling the truth, his lover might have yielded information to their enemy.
Even if Legolas was confident that no critical secrets of the Greenwood were in Noruion's possession, he prayed that he had not revealed details of their troop deployment and defences. But what if he had? The thought alone made his gorge rise.
A hand grasped his chin gently, jolting him out of his dark doubts.
'Now, my beauty, let us dwell on more pleasant matters,' murmured the Dark Lord, and he pressed his sensuous lips against the Elf's mouth.
Legolas poured his anger and distress into the kiss, turning it into a fierce contest of tongues sparring and teeth biting. Maybe it was his fury that made him tear Sauron's shirt open, and rake his back savagely with his fingernails. The Dark Lord surrendered with a moan to his frantic onslaught, writhing in his arms in a way that made his blood boil.
He moved towards the bed, while pushing his hand down the waistline of Sauron's trousers, until he met his shaft, hard and ready. He ran his fingers over the generous length, cupped the heavy balls and circled his thumb ungently over the tip, already moist, before pulling his hand out again. His foe clawed at his shoulders, desperate but unwilling to prevent his attack.
Impatiently, Legolas tried to undo the laces at the waist, but in the end he yanked at them with such force that they snapped and the fabric ripped. With a cry of triumph, he got rid of what remained of the garment and swept his companions' feet from under him with his leg, making him fall on the bed, where he ravished him with hands, lips and teeth. Sauron let him do it, unresisting, even when Legolas unsheathed his own weapon and sank it in hot, clenching depths, until the ripples of climax took them both and he collapsed over his enemy.
'I had wished for a willing lover, Legolas, but I never imagined how ardently you would obey me,' laughed Sauron, sometime later. 'In fact, it has been many long-years since I permitted anyone to treat me like this. I have taken measures to prevent the gleam of a blade in your hands, but you pierced me with a sword I would not parry.'
Following the bliss of release, Legolas wallowed in regret. Not once during his pleasure had he thought of Noruion. Had he truly forgotten him so easily in the arms of their enemy? How could he feel lust for the Dark Lord, a fiend who had committed unspeakable atrocities over the ages of Arda? And yet, the mere sight of his foe, naked and wanton under him awoke his desire again.
'Gorthaur's rotten prick!' he muttered darkly, punching the solid headboard and thereby skinning his knuckles. Then he winced in sheer horror at his words. Not daring to look at Sauron, he was startled by his companion's laughter.
'Oh, my dear prince, you have fallen into a black mood indeed. Will it grow brighter if I tell you that I have devised a special treat for you in the morrow, after you have pleased me so well? But first, let me see if I can reciprocate your attentions, despite your charming curse...'
Mairon nodded to one of the Orc leaders, and turned his attention to his prisoner, who was enjoying the sun and breeze on his upturned face for the first time since his captivity in the tower.
When Legolas lowered his head, he joyfully cried: 'Noruion!', but the guards at his sides prevented him from bolting away.
On the opposite side of the courtyard, about sixty paces away, his friend was being dragged by several Orcs towards a vertical wooden post sunk in the ground. At the sound of the familiar voice, he turned his face away. From the furious scuffle required to bind him to the beam, it was clear that he was still strong and defiant, even if Legolas paled at the sight of bruises and bloodied cuts over his body.
'What evil have you devised, Sa-... Mairon?' he queried with a frown.
'You have fretted continuously over your lover's welfare. I am now offering you the chance to release him.'
'What do you mean?'
The Lord of Dol Guldur watched his prisoner's suspicion grow as an Orc approached them both, carrying his bow and quiver.
'Most of the arrows were recovered, Master,' growled the Orc, placing the objects with the utmost care at his lord's feet, next to a small barrel full of apples.
'My bow?' cried Legolas. 'Why... what?'
'Let me explain, Thranduilion. During my travels many long-years ago, I heard the story of a man, a renowned archer, who angered his lord when he refused him the right to lie with his bride on their wedding night, as was the custom of the land. The lord clapped him in chains and would have had him banished for life, but he gave him a choice instead: if he shot an arrow at an apple balanced on his beloved's head, he would forfeit his claim over her, provided he did not miss the target.'
Legolas sucked in his breath, turning incredulous eyes to him.
'You must be mad, if you believe I will attempt such a thing.'
'You disappoint me, Thranduilion. Is this the mettle of the warriors of the Greenwood? In that case, your father's realm has no hope against my army,' he taunted.
'What you demand is not a proof of mettle, but of folly,' argued Legolas.
'Not for a bowman like you. Can you deny your ability to do what I ask? In exchange for witnessing your prowess, I will allow your lover to leave this fortress, alive and unharmed, if you hit one of these apples when it rests on his head.'
'Even if I can do what you claim, how can I be certain that you will truly let him go? Or that he will not be captured again as soon as you lock me in my room?'
'As for the first question, you have my word. I keep my promises. Have I not abided by our rules?'
'Your rules,' growled Legolas.
'As for your second concern,' continued the Dark Lord, ignoring the insolence of his captive, 'none of my servants will follow him, and he will be told of a hiding place where he can leave a letter or a token of your choice to prove that he has reached the safety of your people.'
With glee, Mairon watched his prisoner waver. If he was considering the odds, he would agree.
'I must speak to him.'
'That is not part of the bargain,' replied Mairon sternly. 'But if you fail and he is hit, I will allow you to shoot a second arrow to end his misery.'
'I need a practice arrow,' protested the Elf. 'Otherwise you are asking me to murder one of my own.'
'You underestimate your skill, if your reputation is true. I am afraid my terms are set.'
The Elvish warrior before him hesitated, gauging the distance, assessing the slight pull of the breeze, glancing at his lover, who by now should have guessed what awaited him. With eyes lit by a fey fire, Legolas spoke his answer.
'Give me my bow.'
'Let me remind you that our rules still apply. I would regret any misunderstandings between us, my beauty,' whispered Mairon, leaning forward slightly to kiss him full on the lips.
He handed him the bow and stepped back. Húvaen skulked from the shadows to crouch at his side, and fingered the hem of his cloak. The Lord of Dol Guldur rested his hand on the thrall's head.
With one of the Orc captains close at his back, Legolas sorted through his arrows, twirling them and running his fingers over the shafts, to check their soundness, until he chose two. Wrinkling his nose, he scraped flakes of dry black blood from them before he turned his attention to his bow. He slid his fingers along its length, as though caressing the smooth wood, and bent it slightly to ensure it had not cracked. Only after this inspection did he string it, measured the brace height with his hand and again unstrung it to twist the string a couple of turns, before unhurriedly repeating the procedure twice more. When the adjustments were made, he partially drew the bow several times, a bit further with each pull, to warm the wood and confirm that it had suffered no damage.
At last, Legolas took it to full draw, without an arrow on the string, and let it down slowly. He did so repeatedly, his powerful back muscles shifting under his tunic to hold the massive pull of his bow, while the Dark Lord feasted on the handsome display of might before his eyes. When all was ready, the Elf picked an apple from the barrel and handed it to one of the Orcs, who walked to the living target and placed it squarely on his head.
'I failed you, Legolas. Kill me!' Noruion's voice was heard faintly in the dead silence.
The son of Thranduil only shook his head, and stood tall, cool and poised to shoot.
There were no rustling leaves to whisper to him about the strength of the breeze, only black and red banners that swayed lazily, without flapping.
Legolas nocked the first arrow to the string, raised the bow and drew.
'I did not tell you how the story ended, did I?' spoke Mairon, softly.
Trembling, Legolas lowered his bow and glared at him.
'The archer failed, shot his bride through the eye and she died without pain. He was slain after assaulting the lord. Sad tale, is it not?'
The Elf breathed deeply, thrice, to calm himself. One last time he looked at his mark, and then, in a smooth movement, he raised his bow, drew it, aimed and let the string go. The arrow flew, swift and graceful, and a loud thud echoed in the courtyard. Noruion tilted his head, but the apple did not fall, nailed through its core to the wooden beam behind him by a green-fletched cedar shaft.
A clamour of frenzied roars, stomping feet and swords beating on shields rose amongst the Orcs, and the discordant echoes thundered against the walls of stone. Legolas dropped his bow and sank to his knees, shaking.
'Your side of the bargain, Mairon,' he cried hoarsely.
The Dark Lord lifted his hand imperiously and his servants scuttled to obey his orders. He watched them cut the prisoner free and lead him towards the inner gate, beyond which there was a double portcullis, the outer gate and a drawbridge. The Orcs stared back at him, awaiting confirmation.
He had already obtained as much as he thought possible from Legolas' lover, and though he would have preferred to see him dead, releasing him was no great loss, but a relief to be rid of his shadow. He had several ideas about how to control Thranduil's son without him.
'Take him up to the walls instead,' he snarled. 'Let him climb down the cliff.'
While his servants found a long enough rope, he beckoned Legolas to stand, and kissed him again, but the Elf remained unresponsive.
'Why that dejection, Thranduilion? That was a shot worthy of song. Are you not happy that you earned your lover's freedom?'
When his prisoner did not respond, he commanded him curtly to follow, and they climbed the stairs to the top of the battlements. Húvaen followed them quietly a few steps behind.
To avoid the temptation of a quick end, the Dark Lord wrapped his hand around the Elf's wrist before letting him approach the openings in the black stone parapet. They both peered down. At the bottom of the sheer cliff stood Noruion, still with the rope looped around his waist. Mairon had one of his servants slice through it with a sword, so that it fell like a writhing snake into the abyss.
'Tell him what token you wish him to send back.'
Legolas seemed dazed, his gaze locked on the distant figure of his fellow warrior and friend. Annoyed, Mairon yanked his arm harshly, and only then did his captive react.
'Noruion,' he shouted, 'give them the belt you wore at the feast of the summer solstice three years ago. That will tell me you are safe. May Elbereth ever guard you!'
'Farewell, Legolas. I will come back to tear this place apart and take you away!' cried the freed Elf, his words echoing from the stone wall.
Legolas waved one last time, and Noruion raised his hand in return, before beginning his descent of the shale slope. Once on firm ground, despite a slight limp, he ran like one possessed, until he stopped to gain his breath under the eaves of the surrounding forest. Finally, after sparing one final look at them, he disappeared under the trees.
Mairon pulled Legolas away from the battlements and down the stairs to the courtyard. The Elf followed docilely, as if with his lover's departure he had lost the will to resist. But the Dark Lord knew this was not so.
'Now, my beauty,' the Dark Lord breathed in his captive's ear, almost lovingly, 'let me take care of the bodkin you are hiding in your clothes, before anyone is harmed. Do you take me for a fool?'
Glaring proudly, Legolas handed out the sharp arrow head, as long as his fingers and deadly sharp.
'Was it meant for me or for yourself?' hissed Mairon.
'Either way, it would have been a victory,' replied the Elf defiantly.
That night he did not conquer but surrendered, listless and silent. The Dark Lord teased, bribed and threatened, but all his tricks of seduction failed.
'I have no leverage over you now,' he said at last, tracing patterns with his finger on his companion's shoulder while admiring the beauty of his strong body. 'Your choice is whether you wish to carry on as we have or whether I shall have you moved to the dungeon, where you can play your defiance and hatred to the hilt while, in turn, I can be the evil villain you wish for, and do my utmost to crush you into dust. You know my preference, but the decision is yours.'
For several days Legolas was left undisturbed; not even his gaoler visited him. On the sixth day since he last saw Noruion, Sauron entered his room and placed on the table a small parcel tied with hithlain and a letter. His father's sign was stamped on the wax seal. With trembling hands, Legolas unfolded the small piece of parchment.
My dearest son,
Noruion is safe. Our thoughts and those of your people are with you. Never give up.
Your loving father
The parcel contained the belt made of leather and oak beads that Noruion had worn on the day they had made love in his talan for the first time. The memories were too much for Legolas, and he would have crumpled to the floor, had it not been for the arms that reached out to support him.
'Your stay does not have to be as unpleasant as you wish to make it,' said Sauron mildly, wrapping the belt around Legolas' waist and doing the buckle.
'You truly let him go?' replied Legolas, still incredulous.
'I may be a foe to your realm, despised and loathed by all good folk of Ennor and beyond, but even a monster is capable of keeping a promise.'
Legolas was surprised at the sound of despondency in those words. Out of impulse, he kissed Sauron on the lips.
'Let me stay out of the dungeon for now, Mairon,' he said, when he recovered his breath. 'Am I right in assuming that you may send me there without notice, to have me tormented at your whim? And that indeed I am free to opt for your grimmer offer if I ever regret my present choice?'
'I would not have spoken it better myself, Thranduilion,' chuckled the Dark Lord.
'In that case, do not give me a reason to change my mind.' Legolas pulled his foe into an embrace and smothered his desperation in another searing kiss.
~ o ~
The Lord of Dol Guldur watched his captive's chest rise and fall softly with each breath, savouring the sculpted curves and planes, softly traced by the slanted light of dawn; his eyes followed the long strands of hair spread around the face of the Elf who slept, naked, golden and perfect, in a tangle of sheets. The wayward locks caressed his skin in all the places where Mairon's fingers wished to touch. Carefully, he lifted a strand and took it to his lips, inhaling its warmth, focusing on the pleasure of the minute tickling sensation on his own skin. His gaze shifted to the open, unseeing eyes, in which the fire lay dormant, all cares of captivity slumbering.
The long list of Mairon's lovers filed through his mind, those willing and those whom he had taken for the mere pleasure of their terror and pain, or for revenge. Over the many ages of his incarnate life, few had stirred him in the way that the son of Thranduil had. Of those, less than a handful had ever dared put fear aside and trust themselves into his hands, and Legolas, despite his plight, was one of them. In bed, he was a warrior and a lover, not a cowed thrall wallowing in dread.
Watching him sleep, Mairon, Lord of Mordor and Dol Guldur, knew he had lost his battle.
'He is beautiful, is he not, Húvaen?' he whispered. 'Ever since the day I spied him hunting in the forest, I have lusted for him. Now he is in my hands, but to truly conquer him I will have to destroy him, as I did to you.'
His slave, crouched at his side, tilted his head and frowned.
'Do not be jealous, pet. He can never take your place. Now he dances to my tune, waiting for the chance to strike, but he will shatter as soon as I bend him further. And in the meantime, I shall fear a blade against my throat while I let him stay at my side.'
The thrall touched his master's knee reverently and feigned to take something from under his tunic.
'Yes, I owe you a reward for warning me about the arrowhead; I have not forgotten your loyalty. But what shall I do with him?'
Húvaen whispered into his master's ear. Mairon smiled.
More days and nights passed, following the familiar pattern of joining Sauron in his chambers every evening, to find solace and a measure of joy together, not only in their tireless rutting, but in the perilous fondness that is rumoured to grow at times between captive and captor.
Of late, Legolas was not led back to his room but stayed in the Dark Lord's warm bed until the morning, sometimes still asleep when his gaoler left to conduct his grim business. On such a day, Legolas awoke and found himself alone in the vast bed. He got up and walked to one of the large windows, where he could see far into his beloved forest, so tantalisingly close and yet unreachable. A glance downwards to the paved courtyard far below the wide ledge spoke a promise of bitter freedom.
'I am not buried underground. I am not in pain. Bannoth is not the only way out. Never give up,' he murmured angrily to himself. 'Never give up.'
He began to collect his scattered garments when his hand found a sharp edge under his shirt, draped over a small table. With a hiss of pain he took his bleeding finger to his mouth and uncovered a small dagger. His heart drummed with excitement. Was this, at last, the chance he had waited for? Or was it a trap?
He might never have a chance like this again, so he hid the blade and made plans. The following morning, he either would be free or dead.
Sauron panted, his eyes wild as he rode the ripples of release with Legolas, who straddled him, still impaled. As he recovered his breath, the Elf admired the wondrous sight of his enemy, spent and vulnerable beneath him, and leant forward to kiss him. He traced the line of Sauron's jaw with his lips, kissing and nibbling lightly, all while reaching with his right hand into the gap between the mattress and the headboard.
'I hope you enjoyed that, Mairon,' he whispered sweetly, nuzzling his foe's neck to turn his head away from where his fingers were closing on the hilt of his weapon.
'Immensely, my beauty,' sighed the Dark Lord, hiding his face in his companion's rich mane.
'Good, because it is the last thing you will feel before I rid the world of your foulness,' snarled Legolas, as the dagger came, fast as lightning, to press against Sauron's throat.
'Wait!' cried the Dark Lord. A few drops of blood trickled from the shallow cut, and Legolas stayed his hand. In that moment of hesitation, he felt a sharp pressure on his nape, and a hand snaked out from behind him to grip his wrist.
'Release him.' The whispering voice rasped, as though little used.
'Slay him, Húvaen!' cried Sauron.
'I am the son of your King, Handir. Will you betray me and your people?' Legolas spoke in his most imperious tone while his heart pounded wildly in his chest. For a few beats, the force behind the painful prod at the top of his neck eased a little, but then he felt it pierce his skin, and a warm trickle of blood slid down towards his back.
'Release my master. He cares for me now.'
Legolas almost wept.
'He is not yours any more, Thranduilion, but mine,' hissed Sauron, and his lips curved into a smile of triumph.
Reluctantly, Legolas opened his hand and let the dagger fall. The Dark Lord picked it up hastily and shoved him aside, wriggling from under his weight. The tip of Handir's deadly blade did not waver while his master dressed and summoned his Orcs.
The loathsome creatures burst into the room and wrapped their claws with bruising strength over the naked Elf's arms and wrists. He felt a tug on his scalp, and turned to see the traitor thrall carefully wrapping around his fingers the thick strand of his hair that he had just cut, before crouching at his master's feet.
'I thought your tongue had been ripped out, Húvaen!' spat Legolas, and he relished an instant of perverse satisfaction when the slave flinched.
'It nearly was, once, but I realised in time that he can work wonders with it, when suitably motivated,' replied Sauron slyly. 'Oh, my good Húvaen, I shall give you a gift, anything you wish, within reason.'
The thrall raised his gaze and it wandered slowly over every muscle of the prisoner's bare body and over every feature of his face, as though wishing to memorise all. At last, their eyes met. Legolas shivered at the disconsolate longing he glimpsed, before the veil of deadness fell back.
'His freedom, Master,' whispered the slave.
Legolas gasped, incredulous.
'His freedom?' scoffed the Dark Lord. 'He just tried to slay me! An eternity of red-hot pincers seems far more fitting to his crime.'
'You promised, Master,' insisted Handir.
Sauron raked Legolas from head to toe.
'Rough him up a little without breaking any bones, will you, lads?' he ordered his Orcs.
'Master, your word...' cried Sauron's thrall. His lord struck him silent.
The Orcs punched, pinched, bruised and scratched their prisoner. Unable to fight them off, Legolas closed his eyes and weathered the blows, attempting to make no sound, though he moaned softly at times.
'Enough!' Sauron's voice made the Orcs retreat as fast as if he had whipped them, bringing the brutal assault to an end.
Sauron's strong arms lifted Legolas to his feet, only letting go when he would not fall. Then, without warning, his captor backhanded him across the mouth. Legolas gasped from the unexpected pain and tried to lunge forward, but he was restrained.
'I was right not to expect gratitude for my gift, Thranduilion, and yet I am disappointed,' said Sauron, caressing his prisoner's cheek above the swelling lip.
'You call this a gift?' panted Legolas, still winded from the blows.
'Yes, Legolas, a parting gift. I shall grant Húvaen his prize, but I am giving you the means to build a story to feed your people, a tale of terrible torment and heroic escape. If you walk unscathed and clad in the finest cloth into the midst of one of your patrols tomorrow, they may suspect you of having fallen under my sorcery, especially after the tales your friend will have spread.' He touched his slave's head. 'Give him your clothes, Húvaen; you may keep his.'
Understanding dawned at last on Legolas, but he remained wary, even when the Orcs let go of his arms at their master's signal. Hastily, he put on the thin, ragged clothes of the thrall, before gazing at Sauron in wonder.
'Go,' growled the Dark Lord, 'before I change my mind.'
'Will you not free Handir?' Impulsively, he added: 'Annatar.'
His eyes did not deceive him, Sauron had winced at the name.
'No, Legolas. Like you so aptly proved, your people will never accept what their brave warrior has become. After many years, Húvaen is at last content with his lot, are you not, pet?'
The thrall nodded, grasping the hem of his master's silk robe.
Legolas choked on remorse at his earlier cruelty against the man who, however twisted by torment, had renounced his own gain in order to save him from a terrible fate. He placed a hand on the slave's shoulder, and felt him lean against his touch.
'We are wasting time,' growled Sauron, striding towards the door. Legolas and Handir rushed to follow.
They descended the stairs to the courtyard, and the gates were thrown wide open amongst loud creaking noises, rattling of chains and the groans of the Orcs turning the winches. When Legolas saw that the forest lay beyond, he gave several steps forward, daring to believe at last that Sauron's promised gift would prove to be more than a cruel jest.
The son of Thranduil halted, holding his breath at the sound of his foe's voice. Slowly, he turned and strode back towards the Lord of Dol Guldur to pour his joy and regret into a last crushing kiss. Lost in the sorcery of Sauron's devouring fire, Legolas would have yielded all to his enemy at that time.
'Run away, Mirkwood cur, before my Orcs rip you to shreds!' snarled the Dark Lord, after pulling away to break the kiss. But he smiled briefly.
Legolas ran to freedom.
Legolas ran, fast as the wind, and he disappeared under the eaves of the forest. Only then did the Lord of Dol Guldur command that the gates of his fortress be closed.
'Come on, Húvaen, let us go back inside. You did a wonderful job of acting as my saviour. I will punish you thoroughly for your clever scheming, and you can use that wonderful tongue of yours to make me forget fair Legolas.' He sighed.
Húvaen took his master's maimed hand and kissed it reverently, before placing something small and soft on its palm and closing his fingers upon it.
Mairon thought he saw a fleeting smile on the face of his slave. When he opened his hand, he found a coiled strand of golden hair. He took it to his lips, while he fondly caressed the pointed ear tips of his thrall.
Order had been restored. Oh, but he missed his prisoner already...
 Nínui (Sindarin) February. 2850 is the year when proof of the true identity of the Necromancer was discovered.
 Bannoth (Sindarin) name equivalent to Mandos (Quenya), the Halls of Waiting.
 Tawarren (Sindarin) adj. related to the Tawarwaith, or Wood-elves
 Húvaen - derived from Sindarin hû (dog) and maen (clever, skilled)
 Lugbúrz (Black Speech) Barad-dûr, the Dark Tower
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.