Blood of a Brother: Assassination by Mirfaen|
Blood of a Brother: Assassination
No summary given
I have been asked to record a strange and near fatal occurrence that took place two days ago, as it seems that I am the only one with an objective view of the event. My father, the Lord Elrond, stressed the need of having this particular recounting in writing as soon as possible and in as much detail as possible so that the reality of the incident does not become muddled. For the incident was seen through four sets of eyes, and only three am I able to gain information from. And so I sit with Eruhîr, a trusted friend who has just arrived from Rivendell, and he has agreed to write what I dictate to him.
The entire episode took place in King Thranduil’s realm in Mirkwood, in one clearing of the forest. I was visiting Mirkwood with Aragorn, the man who my father took in and has raised from a very young age. We were not there on business; our business was with a village outside of Mirkwood entirely but Elrond granted us permission to take an extra week for our journey and rest in the Woodland King’s halls.
Much of our reason for wanting to detour to Mirkwood was to visit with Legolas, the King’s son and heir to the throne. So it was to our happiness that we found him on leave between a series of trade route negotiations and eager to relax in the company of friends.
The clearing of which I spoke earlier is a part of Thranduil’s training grounds, which are small fields separated by lengths of forest. The three of us had gone there that day to spar, a practice which was quickly becoming a tradition between us, as well as my brother, Elrohir. (Elrohir was at this time still in Rivendell, having been away at the time of Aragorn and I’s departure to Mirkwood.)
It was Legolas who proposed we go a number of fields farther than those already in use, so that we would have some space between us and the training camp that was taking place closer to the palace. And so we passed through at least three fields before we stopped and prepared to begin our sport.
Aragorn and Legolas were the first two to match off and they began the spar without ceremony, as was also quickly becoming our custom. I stood at the edge of the clearing to give them the proper room they would need, as I have witnessed them dueling many times in the past and know that they are not ones to stay still. I shall not give every detail of the first half of the spar, as it was in all ways normal both to my eyes and to those of the contenders.
I shall begin detailing, instead, at a point just before the happenings became bizzare. I was growing impressed with Aragorn’s stamina, though I admit I am well aware of his hearty endurace and yet I am still impressed when I see it being displayed. His blows remained as strong as they had been when the duel began, which was now some time ago. And although Legolas was dancing circles around him, Aragorn was still keeping the Elf on his toes.
This is what was in my thoughts at one point when Aragorn brought his sword down from on high in a sweeping blow. Legolas, who had come too close to leap back out of the way, bent his torso backward and twisted in a remarkable display of balance, narrowly missing the blade’s sharp edge as it grazed the front of his shirt. There was an expression of slight surprise on Legolas’ face as he came upright again.
“Aragorn,” he had said, taking a moment to look down and finger the front of his tunic. “You took a fastener.”
Legolas had worn a sage green tunic made of silk that day and it was now open from his neck to halfway down his chest.
Aragorn had just smiled in response and said, “Then pick up your pace, or you’ll be fighting shirtless.”
I spoke up then, not able to resist a jest, “Tighten up your defenses, Legolas, or all the maidens of Mirkwood will come running and overwhelm us all.”
That garnered the reaction I was hoping for, as Legolas looked away, smiling rather bashfully. One of his hands had unconsciously rose and held the shirt closed at his neck and I laughed. Aragorn chose that moment to charge in again and Legolas had to let go of his shirt to bring his two white knives before him in a block.
It was around this time that I noticed a shifting in the shadows diagonally across the field from me. I took my eyes from Aragorn and Legolas for a moment to look deep into the trees there, for I knew that from time to time one of Mirkwood’s famous spiders would become too greedy and dare to enter into Thranduil’s compound. But I noted almost immediately that it was not any sort of wicked creature but a maiden, simple in appearances, with a hood drawn over her head as though she wished to be unobtrusive, simply a passing spectator.
I smiled inwardly then, remembering my own words not moments ago. I turned my gaze back to the match to see that Aragorn had one of Legolas’ hands held high above his head and turned a shoulder in, hitting Legolas in the chest forcefully enough to send him back several steps. That was one of the few advantages that the man had over his Elven companion: body weight and brute strength.
Legolas accepted the blow, unfazed, and had his knives up and ready even before he’d stopped moving. It was at this point, as Aragorn was watching Legolas in an attempt to anticipate his next move, that he glanced behind Legolas and became aware that they’d drawn an observer. Then Aragorn stepped in again, not waiting for Legolas to make the first move, and their blades clashed. Aragorn twisted his wrist, freeing his sword of the knives, and thrust it in toward Legolas’ neck.
The Prince danced away from the blade and I began to smile for I realized what he was planning even before he began to spin to one side. Aragorn had grown used to Legolas’ steady rhythm of step in, do battle, dance back, and then pause before stepping in again. I watched Legolas break his cycle now, coming in close to Aragorn without stopping to pause. Aragorn was caught unprepared and stumbled backwards, clumsily knocking the Prince’s whirling blades away from him.
I called out to him from the sidelines, “Never allow your adversary to lure you into a pattern. Expect the unexpected.”
It was a phrase I knew he’d heard more times than he could count and he predictably gave me a snort in response. But now he had recovered from being initially unprepared and he was keeping up with Legolas’ rapid knife work.
He saw then a perfect positioning of the Prince’s knives and he used his sword to catch them next to each other, turning his own blade sideways and subsequently twisting Legolas’ arms together. The Prince, to avoid cutting his arm open on Aragorn’s sword, was forced to jump forward and drop to one knee in a movement that can only be described as awkward.
It is at this point at which the events take an unusual turn, when their blades were locked and their eyes met. For Aragorn, as he later told me, saw in Legolas’ eyes a fierce resentment, as though the man should have known better than to cause him any awkward movements. Legolas, however, had not felt resentment nor shown resentment but he and I were both puzzled by the confusion on Aragorn’s features.
Legolas was the first to pull out of the lock and he took one of his blades in a reverse grip and thrust it toward Aragorn’s side, a thrust which to Aragorn had come dangerously close to actually injuring him. The man jumped away from the attack and brought his sword up in a defensive position, for he did not like the dark look that he saw flickering in the Prince’s eyes. (A look that I myself did not witness even though I was watching their every move and a look that Legolas insists he never gave).
“Easy, Legolas,” Aragorn had said then with an almost nervous laugh, “I didn’t mean to embarrass you.”
“You didn’t embarrass me,” Legolas replied in confusion. To Aragorn, however, his voice was uncharacteristically sarcastic. “That was a legitimate move.”
Aragorn’s head cocked to one side. “Legolas, I’ve used that before on you. It didn’t bother you then.”
Here, Aragorn reports that Legolas turned to look at the surrounding trees, where the girl still watched intently, when in reality it was Aragorn who first turned to look and Legolas followed his gaze.
Aragorn then turned back to Legolas, in clear confusion and lowered his sword slightly. “Do you know her?”
“No,” Legolas returned slowly.
Then Aragorn laughed slightly again and said, “Since when have you wanted to impress the maidens?”
Aragorn then saw Legolas’ expression grow dark again, though in truth he had only a look of bafflement. I watched Legolas move forward to continue their match, as Legolas said he’d seen Aragorn make a gesture with his sword that indicated he wanted to proceed. Aragorn looked very wary of Legolas as the Prince approached and according to Aragorn, Legolas had seemed to sense his uneasiness and had responded with a haughty smirk.
Legolas came on in attack and the duel continued, in all appearances no different from when they first started. But Aragorn has told me that Legolas, in his eyes, had become frighteningly overzealous in his blows. The man saw the blades coming within inches of his skin and moving so quickly that they had become almost of a blur. He said he felt, amidst the flashing activity, the sharp edge of one of the knives graze over the front of his throat. To Aragorn, Legolas’ face had gone completely blank, save for a deadly gleam in his eyes.
To Legolas and I, however, Aragorn’s behavior was becoming ever more perplexing, for he seemed to be overcompensating almost every move. He would jerk back several feet when all that was needed was to lean slightly to one side.
Legolas was now watching the Ranger’s moves closely for signs of overexertion, dehydration, or perhaps something else that might have been the cause of such odd behavior. Aragorn, on the other hand, saw the Elf’s close scrutiny as Legolas predicting his blocks and working to find a flaw in his defenses.
“Legolas, what has gotten into you?” Aragorn said, his body clearly beginning to tire. He was sweaty now from head to toe and seemed to be overheated.
Legolas decided right then to stop the duel and sit Aragorn down to cool off and sort through his clearly overworked mind. But before he could voice his own thoughts, Aragorn had stepped too far back again. His foot connected with a rock and he tripped backwards to land heavily on the ground.
Legolas and I watched as the Ranger did not rise right away but sat, looking up at Legolas strangely.
Aragorn, meanwhile, was seeing Legolas laugh outright at his fall.
“I’m sorry,” Legolas was saying, according to Aragorn. The Prince’s voice was again sarcastic as he mimicked Aragorn’s earlier words. “I didn’t mean to embarrass you.”
In reality, Legolas had come forward a step and asked quietly, “Are you all right?”
And so, Legolas was understandably stunned when Aragorn suddenly lurched toward him in sudden anger. The Ranger’s hurt at Legolas’ lack of care for him had finally reached its boiling point and was now spilling over in the form of retaliation.
“What is wrong with you?” Aragorn yelled as he brought his sword to bear and pressed his attack, forcing Legolas into a quick retreat.
Legolas was completely shocked and Aragorn saw it written plainly on his face but said later that it only proved to intensify his rage, for the shock, to him, turned quickly into arrogance once more. Aragorn’s mind had begun to cloud and block out anything but the fury that he was feeling toward Legolas. To Aragorn, the Elf recoiling from his powerful blows ceased to be a friend in a sparring match and suddenly became an enemy. The man has told me that while this was happening he felt vaguely aware that he was not creating these feelings of rage on his own, but rather something else was placing them there. They were still his feelings, however, whether made by him or something else, and so he was unable to recognize them for what they were.
By then, Legolas was practically running backwards as Aragorn continued to come at him. The man’s eyes were wild with vengeance as he wheeled his sword so quickly and powerfully that it bordered on reckless.
I had already begun to run towards them at this point, even as Legolas called for Aragorn to stop. Aragorn never heard Legolas’ call, nor did he hear mine that followed.
Instead, he took his sword in both hands and swung it straight towards Legolas’ neck. As the Prince tipped back out of the way I could see him watching the large blade whoosh through the air just above his face. When he came upright again, I saw two strands of his golden hair float to the ground.
Aragorn had then already reversed his swing and the end of his sword caught Legolas just as he was bending up again, cutting right through his sage tunic and deep into his skin.
Aragorn said that time seemed to slow drastically for him when he saw Legolas’ startled eyes follow the blade as it moved away from him, carrying with it some of his own blood. Then his eyes turned down to his chest where a crimson stain was growing, and finally rose to meet Aragorn’s gaze in pure bewilderment and hurt.
I had reached them by now and had drawn my greatsword from its sheath.
“Move away from him, Aragorn,” I ordered forcefully, allowing him to see the severity in my face.
He did not seem to hear me right away, so I repeated myself. Finally he looked at me and I waved my greatsword to indicate that I wanted him to step back.
“Something is wrong with you, Estel,” I said, purposely using the name my father had given him as a child. At this point I was fully aware that something had changed in Aragorn, that he was somehow not himself. “You need to drop your sword right now.”
“This is not your concern!” Aragorn shouted, turning his angry look on me. “Stay away, this is between him and I!”
Aragorn later told me that he remembers being there for this coversation but does not remember participating in it, as though he were standing to one side and watching three strangers argue.
“This is my concern, Estel,” I insisted, taking another small step forward. I knew there was still too much distance between them and I.
“Where were you when Legolas was coming after me? Why is it just now your concern?”
Legolas, meanwhile, said he was trying to ignore the feel of his blood rolling down his front and the burning pain, instead trying to concentrate on Aragorn. I could see Legolas out of the corner of my eye and his hands were shaking as they gripped their knives and I knew it was from fear rather than fatigue.
My heart was also racing and I felt adrenaline pulsing through me. The whole situation had an utterly surreal feeling. The air was so thick with tension that I felt I could cut it with my greatsword. What had started out as a friendly sparring match had somehow become lethal and I felt as though any move that any of us made would break the precarious balance and result in more bloodshed.
I unconsciously took another step toward them. This proved to be a mistake, for Aragorn seemed to suddenly realize that I had been steadily approaching and spooked as a horse might when it is beset by a wolf. But instead of coming after me, he went for Legolas again, catching the already reeling Prince off guard. There was a loud crack as the hilt of Aragorn’s sword smashed into one of Legolas’ hands, breaking one of his knuckles – as Legolas knew right away but Aragorn and I later found out. The white knife he held in that hand flew from his grasp.
I was rushing forward but already could see that I would not quite arrive in time. Aragorn had simultaneously released his sword with one hand grabbed onto Legolas’ last knife arm by the wrist, raising it high above his head as he had done before.
In seconds we had all stopped moving and stood once again in tense silence. I was now right beside them and held my greatsword at Aragorn’s throat. But Aragorn, likewise, had Legolas at a severe disadvantage. He still held the Prince’s wrist over his head in a firm grip and had the sharp edge of his already bloody sword at Legolas’ throat. Legolas was clutching his last knife with white knuckles and held his other hand gingerly down by his side, clearly fighting through the pain that he was feeling there.
Aragorn, his eyes never having lost their wild anger, did not look away from Legolas as he spoke to me. (Aragorn has told me that he remembers nothing of what follows).
“Step back ten feet or I’ll kill him right now, I swear it,” the man growled and I noted that there was something rather odd about his voice.
My eyes flickered briefly to Legolas, who was looking much younger than his years. It was obvious that having one of his closest companions seeking his life was greatly affecting the Prince and scaring him nearly out of his wits. But to his credit he was keeping his composure brilliantly.
When I did not move, Aragorn had turned to look at me directly. “Or you can run your blade through my neck.”
He had me and we all knew it. I could never kill my own foster brother, especially when it had become obvious that it was not truly Aragorn who was in control anymore. I tried to catch Legolas’ eye as I lowered my sword and began to back away but he was still staring at Aragorn, horrified.
“Estel, I know this is not you,” I said, knowing that I would now have to reach him through words.
“Let go of your knife and drop to your knees,” Aragorn said harshly, turning his gaze back to Legolas and apparently ignoring me.
Legolas hesitated and I could see him readjusting the grip on his knife. I knew what he was thinking. In the blink of an eye, he could jam that knife down into Aragorn’s arm and probably release himself from the man’s grip.
His opened his fingers and let the blade fall to the ground.
“Estel, stop this!” I cried. I was now becoming angry and hated the fact that I could not take any physical action. “Whatever has gotten a hold of you is not truly you! You must fight against it!”
He again did not listen to me.
“On your knees!” He yelled at Legolas, who appeared to somehow have found a sort of calmness. “I’m going to do this right.”
Aragorn pressed the edge of his sword harder into the skin of Legolas’ throat and the Prince sank to his knees even as Aragorn’s last words caught my attention.
“Do what right?” I asked him warily, not bothering to call him Estel as I figured it was not quite Aragorn that I was talking to anymore.
“His assassination,” the man replied, his eager eyes never leaving Legolas’ face. I swore then, rather harshly, for it had hit me all at once what was happening as well why his voice sounded so odd. His voice sounded like it was echoing, as though two people were talking at the same time.
Being careful not to be obvious, I glanced to the side. There was the hooded maiden, whom we had all completely forgotten about. Her hands were both raised, their palms facing in our direction and her eyes were wide and hard in concentration. She had not seen my glance in her direction, so focused was she on keeping a hold of Aragorn.
“Aragorn,” I said, looking quickly back at my foster brother, “You can fight what is in your mind. You are stronger than it. Whatever you were seeing happen did not happen, it was an illusion.”
As I spoke I moved my hand to my belt, where I always kept a throwing knife hidden. I watched Aragorn’s face and saw it go blank. Then he shook his head slightly and the ire returned to his eyes.
“Estel, look at the blood on the end of your sword! That is not the blood of someone who deserves to die by your hand! That is the blood of a friend, Estel. A brother.”
The man’s eyes had dilated severely before closing tightly and his head lowered ever so slightly. Knowing that my brother was struggling inwardly with the sorceress, I took that moment to lock gazes with the Prince, the heir to the throne of Mirkwood. Aragorn had not let go of his wrist and so he was unable to roll away from the sword under his chin. But his eyes had been trusting when they looked back at me. We knew that he was now laying his life out to me and to Aragorn, who was once again fighting for us.
And still I did not throw my dagger, for I knew that during the time it took for it to sail across the field, the sorceress could have Legolas laying dead or dying on the grass.
But when I looked back to Aragorn I found him staring right at me. Although his hands still betrayed him, holding Legolas as well as the blade at his neck, I knew within a second that it was my brother who was looking at me and imploring me to make my move.
And so I took the risk and I spun, heaving my dagger with all my strength toward the woman. Instead of watching its flight to be sure it landed, however, I turned immediately back to Aragorn and Legolas in time to see Aragorn’s grip on his sword tighten. It moved swiftly for the kill and Legolas’ eyes had closed calmly. But then Aragorn’s hand faltered. Almost instantly, the hand jerked back and his fingers opened.
The sword fell sideways, the flat of its blade hitting Legolas’ thighs before sliding to the grass. Aragorn had let out an enormous gasp as though he had been held under the water and was just now breaking the surface. He staggered backwards, letting go of Legolas. The Prince slumped forward, leaning his uninjured hand against the ground to support himself.
I let them be and sprinted for the edge of the clearing, where the woman was laying amidst the trees. My dagger protruded from her gut but she was still alive and she glared hatefully at me as I approached.
Equally angered, I grabbed the front of her shirt and lifted her slightly from the ground.
“Who are you that you would wish to assassinate the Prince?” I shouted at her.
“I am one in a household,” she replied and at this, my heart dropped. “I have failed my family but they will complete our life’s mission and avenge me as well.”
“What is the name of your house?” I asked her then.
She only smiled the smile of one who knows they are dying and knows they will carry their secrets with them to the other world.
“That Prince will die,” she said, her words coming in rasps. She tipped her chin and I glanced over my shoulder in her indicated direction to see that Legolas had approached and stood at a cautious distance. Aragorn was there as well but stood quite a ways away from Legolas. “But not only him. I only started with him because we wanted to eliminate the heir before we go after the King.”
I stared hard at her because I did not know what to say. She would tell me only what she wished for me to know.
“Either way, the entire royal family shall die. I swear it.”
These were her last words. She died in my hands and I dropped her back to the ground in disgust.
When I returned to my companions it was clear that Aragorn was greatly troubled for he would not meet my eyes and would not even look in Legolas’ direction. He gave a slow and broken apology to the Prince, who gave an equally broken remission. Legolas, however, would not come near to Aragorn.
Their words I knew meant nothing, for both were hurting greatly. Aragorn left the clearing and did not touch his sword. It remained laying where it had fallen, Legolas’ blood still drying on it. I let the man go for I knew that nothing I could say would help him until much later.
Legolas, though he was composed, was still shaken by the unforeseen attempt on his life and I could see he had grown weak from the loss of blood. I gave him my shirt to hold against his chest and stem some of the flow and I ushered him back to the palace healers.
Aragorn returned to see Legolas later that day. I was not present, being in another part of the palace arranging for a messenger to be sent from Rivendell. However, from speaking with both Aragorn and Legolas I learned that they shared two and a half heartfelt and sorrowful hours in each others company.
And so my task comes to an end. Aragorn was not charged with any crime, having both Legolas and I as witnesses to what happened. Legolas has received stitches and is in all appearances healing without infection. Aragorn remains greatly troubled within himself and Legolas remains greatly on edge. But they have found comfort with each other and with myself. Elrohir arrived in short order with Eruhîr and even now sits with them.
And I sit with Eruhîr.
Time will heal what hands cannot.
- Elladan, Son of Elrond