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Reflections from the Paradise of Elves  by Bodkin

The Paradise of Elves – Part 86:  Found

If only he felt better, Legolas thought, the white hot glares from his friends would scorch him.  But, as things were at the moment, they were warming and encouraging.  ‘What kept you so long?’ he asked airily, secure in the knowledge that the gentle hands would remain gentle – at least for now.

‘Surely you do not believe you are that high on our list of priorities?’ Elladan retaliated.  ‘We have better things to do with our time than waste it searching for a pair of elves who are more than old enough to look after themselves.’

Legolas winced.  ‘I suppose I should be grateful that you managed to fit me in,’ he remarked.  He glanced painfully towards his adar-in-law.  ‘How is he?’

‘Unconscious,’ Elrohir replied.  ‘Which might be as well, for lifting him out of here is bound to hurt him.’ 

‘I am surprised he gave in.’ Legolas accepted the flask Elladan offered him and took a small sip.  ‘He is the most obstinate elf I have ever encountered.’

‘And you should know,’ his friend accused him.  ‘You can be stubborn enough.’  He looked at the younger elf.  ‘You need to take more than that,’ he added practically.  ‘It would be better if you, too, had – er – a diminished awareness of what we are about to do to you.  You are pretty battered.’

Legolas shook his head.  ‘Feeling the wind on my face will be enough,’ he murmured.

‘What were you doing?’ Elrohir burst out.  ‘Even your offspring have never got themselves in quite such a mess!’

It was difficult to convey injured dignity when the injuries were rather more real, Legolas thought fleetingly.  Knowing that his friends – and his family – had been tearing their hair out for…  He frowned.  ‘How long have we been missing?’ he asked.  It felt as if it had been … years.  And yet, at the same time…  He swallowed and closed his eyes.

‘Anor has crossed the sky eight times,’ Elrohir said neutrally.

Legolas drew an incautious breath and hissed.  ‘Elerrina?’ he asked.

‘Delighted, of course.’  Elladan said, straight-faced.  ‘Enjoying the peace.’

‘She will be glad to see you again, even in this state,’ Elrohir said more kindly.  ‘I think she was beginning to fear that you and Taryatur had finished each other off.’

‘I fell,’ Legolas said.  He sounded as if he thought the incident remarkable.  ‘My horse shied away from some disturbance and I caught my head and …’ He screwed his eyes up.  ‘I did not think the fall would ever end.  Time slows down – and you can see all possible outcomes and all the things you wish you had done flash before you.’

‘Oh yes,’ Elladan said.  ‘I know the feeling.’

‘Only too well, I should think,’ his brother remarked.

‘He did not hesitate, you know.’  Legolas glanced towards Taryatur.  ‘I am sure he thought that there was nothing for him to do but retrieve my body, but he still…’  He paused.  ‘It is just as well.  I was floating face down in the water, apparently.’

‘If he rescued you, how is it that he is the one lying there unconscious?’  Elladan watched his brother checking the older elf.

‘He was frantic,’ Legolas shifted uncomfortably.  ‘Determined to get out of here – to get help – so he attempted the climb.  He said that he had climbed down successfully, so he could get back out.  But the rock wall is sheer and there is an overhang – and he had spent several days crouching in the dark with very little food.’  He shook his head.  ‘He got high enough for the drop to be dangerous.’  He paused in recollection.  ‘I did what I could, but…’   In the silence that followed, the slow drip of water from the rock ceiling was both loud and irritating, like fingers tapping on a table.  ‘How are you planning on getting us out of here?’ he asked.

‘Oh my,’ Elrohir said, ‘we never thought of that.  We will be stuck here for ever!’

‘Sarcasm becomes you not,’ Legolas informed him. 

‘Not only do we have rope,’ Elladan told him, ‘but we also have people – and horses – above ground capable of pulling us up.  I do wish people would stop thinking that we are completely stupid.’

‘I do not!’  Legolas protested.   A small grin brightened his dirty face.  ‘Not completely!’

‘Just wait until you are better,’ Elladan pronounced.  ‘We will put you in the dust again, my friend, and rub your nose in the dirt until you beg us for mercy.’

‘You are welcome to try,’ Legolas sniffed.

‘Taryatur is ready to be lifted,’ Elrohir said.  ‘I will climb beside him to make sure he has the smoothest journey we can manage.  Get Legolas ready, Elladan, will you?  We do not want to stay here any longer than we have to – it is not exactly comfortable.  I will send the ropes down as soon as we are safe.’

Elladan watched anxiously as his brother slipped the loop over his shoulders and began the process of guiding the framework safeguarding Taryatur smoothly up the rough wall.  ‘Be careful, my brother,’ he said.

‘I will be fine,’ his twin declared, grinning confidently.  ‘I cannot wait to see everyone’s face when we get them home.’

‘Nor I,’ Legolas said.  ‘But, glad as I will be to get home – Elladan, Elrohir – I have rarely been happier to see anyone than I was to see you two today.  Thank you.’

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