Cling and Clatter: Part II
by Jules

For Better or Worse

Fulfillment to their lack of strength at your expense
Left you with no defense, they tore it down.

Legolas sighed and moved towards the horses, wanting the day to be over as quickly as possible. He didn't care what the human did; he was yet another one the guards obviously wanted to him to teach his skills too. He cared little for other beings these days; it was hard enough looking out for himself let alone anyone else. There had been a day when he would have given his life for another without question though times had changed and this was no longer the case. Protecting another in this hell usually meant double lashings for both parties. In three thousand years he had never felt so browbroken, so pathetic and used as he did now. He cursed under his breath at the villagers and guards as he laid a hand upon the horses' neck, only to have it turn on him, teeth napping at his shirt, missing his flesh by a hairsbreadth. He retreated a step and spoke softly to the frightened animal, his voice visibly calming the creature as it flicked its ears forwards towards the sound. He kept speaking quietly as he hauled the heavy leatherwear from its housing in the side of the yard, grunting with effort as he lifted it onto the animal's back. The horse stood still, fearful, but now trusting the elf as he moved around tightening straps and fastening buckles.

And I have felt the same, as you I've felt the same, As you I've felt the same

The human watched in fascination, amazed by the ability this Elf had with equines. He had seen it only once before, in a friend of his long lost. He picked up the heavy bridle from the sand and handed it to the Elf, startling him with his presence. He tried to look upon the face of the once fair creature, only to find it smeared with grime, sweat and blood. It was impossible to tell the identity of the Elf from his features or his voice. Legolas caught him looking and questioned him as to his motives. Sighing slightly as if in deep regret the human answered accordingly, claiming he was in the process of looking for an Elf when he was captured himself. Legolas arched an eyebrow as he gently opened the horse's mouth and slipped the rusted metal inside, minding his fingers as the animal clenched its jaws closed. The human continued, explaining the story of a long lost friend who had departed Lothlorien over six moons ago, never to be seen since. A flicker of hope ignited within Legolas' cold heart, was this human looking for him? He remembered leaving Lothlorien to return to the ashes of his fallen home when he had been captured. Of course the Lady of the Wood would be worried about him as he has assured her he would return in three weeks at the most. That would have been over six months ago now.

There was still something about the human that seemed familiar, the hair was much longer than he remembered, the beard and moustache more pronounced, and the eye which once were bright were dark and haunted, yet now he could see the similarities clearly. This was Aragorn, his travelling companion of long ago. The flicker of recognition in his eyes was reflected in Aragorn's as well. Both delighted to see each other, yet horrified at the level of being both had descended into. Glancing around him Legolas whispered to his old friend, telling him to not act like they knew of each other for fear of being separated yet again. If they worked well together and nothing more, maybe the guards would let them remain working together, thus between them they may be able to formulate a method of escaping. Long had it been since Legolas had thought of escape, yet now with Aragorn here, beaten as they both were, something deadly to the guards flickered within their hearts and minds. Hope.

Locked inside the only place,
where you feel sheltered, you feel safe
you lost yourself in your search to find
something else to hide behind

As the Dusk bell clanged its clamour through the village the two bruised and weary slaves joined the ranks of their foul smelling companions as the group was marched back to the cells. The human had emerged with 4 bites and 3 kicks, while the Elf wielded an ugly bleeding wound on his thigh where he hadn't been quick enough to dodge incoming hooves. He limped slightly as they trudged through the dimly lit corridors, stopping off at the respective cells to throw its occupant back inside for the evening. He glanced at Aragorn as he was roughly shoved within his stone and iron cage, his eyes thanking him for the inkling of hope that now surged through his being. Another corner was rounded and he too was thrown within the cage he called home. He sank down onto the thin mattress, resting his weary body before his meal was pushed through the door. If they were lucky a bucket of cold water would also be pushed through in which to clean themselves, though this was rare, as it required much labour for the guards. No bucket appeared that night, only the small bowl containing cold broth and stale bread.

For the first time in weeks Legolas actually wished for the cold water of the bucket. He hadn't cared much for his appearance until now, usually too exhausted and lacking the will to live to bother. Now that Aragorn was with him, sharing this experience of hell, he found a reason to start looking after himself again. His previous thoughts of self-preservation turned to concern for his companions' well being, yet he dared not show it in front of the guards. Finishing his meal he shoved the bowl back towards the door and examined where the horse had kicked him. The wound had stopped bleeding, but was still very much inflamed and sore. He could tell it was going to get infected and thus become even more painful before his somewhat weakened healing abilities kicked in, as he had nothing with which to clean the wound and prevent infection from taking hold in the first place. Ignoring the pain as best he could he reclined and dozed for the rest of the night, this thoughts turning back to the time of the Fellowship and battles of good.

The fearful always preyed upon your confidence
didn't they see the consequence,
when they pushed you around?

The morning bell clinged and clattered its echoes through the dim walls, waking the unfortunate souls within their walls for another day of slavery. Legolas awoke to find his brow slick with sweat, his thigh's previous ache now a dull roar of pain within his body. He sat up stiffly, pushing aide the slight feeling of nausea as he did so. Pulling back the flat of pantleg to reveal the new festering wound beneath, Legolas cursed softly, angry with his body for being so weak and unable to heal itself. Before he could properly inspect the wound again the guard unlocked the door to his cell and reached in, the large grimy hand finding itself a handful of once blonde hair. The rough hand pulled him to his feet, shoving the unfortunate Elf out the door and into the small throng of prisoners already in the corridor. He swayed slightly as his feet refused to obey him, being caught by another slave before he tumbled to the ground.

Aragorn was ready when the guard unlocked his celldoor. He obediently stepped outside into the congregation without resistance, spotting the elf leaning against the wall furthest from the guards. The guard moved onto the next cell, allowing Aragorn to make his way to the Elf without being noticed. Legolas' face was far paler than normal, a thin sheen of sweat also covered his skin adding to the concern now raging within the human's mind. He wished desperately for some way to aid his friend, for some herbs, or better yet, a healer, but knew neither was likely in their current environment.

A short march later they were shoved in the same roundyard as the day before, with the same horses plus a few new ones. Legolas moved to the horses again, slipping a leather halter on one and leading it over to wear the saddle was kept. The animal having had the saddle on yesterday did not object as the bulky heavy object was placed and secured onto his back, yet Aragorn who was working with another of the horses noticed the way Legolas leaned heavily on the horse after hoisting the leatherwear. Legolas seemed to take longer than usual to prepare himself for the 'first ride' as well, seemingly summing up his strength to mount the horse and hold on as the flurry of bucks and rears erupted. His body sagged as he pulled himself into the saddle, the animal listening to the words he spoke softly, but also waiting for the chance to rid itself of this being on its back. Words not working the Elf gently nudged his lower calf and heel into the side of the creature, encouraging it forward, rewording it with kind words and pats as the animal stepped forward. Again he encouraged until they had completed a lap of the roundyard at a somewhat jerky walk. Knowing the guards would want the horse ready in another two days he applied his heels again, hoping for a trot, but instead getting a series of severe bucks. He desperately clung to the saddle and leaned back to keep himself balanced and seated, succeeding for a short time before the horse threw in a twist to one of the bucks, unseating him and sending him hurtling towards the sand. He landed in an ungraceful heap, groaning as the world turned different shades of green, blue and black before his eyes. It hurt to move, it hurt to breathe, it hurt to live. He heard footsteps hurrying towards him and cracked open a sand-encrusted eyelid. Aragorn's sandy boots approached and stopped before him, gentle hands filled his vision as the human checked him for broken bones. Not having the strength to object he consented to the examination. Aragorn felt along his companion's body, relieved to find no breaks but ever more concerned at the now sandfilled wound that had reopened, spilling red onto the golden sand of the yard. As he rolled Legolas onto his side Aragorn heard the bolted door of the roundyard slide open.

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