He wasn't quite sure where he was, he had been aiding the Guard in defeating a group of Orcs and then, nothing, now he had woken in a cave of some sort. It was dark, damp and bad smelling, with rough stone tunnels and no sign of which way to go…
Given the absence of natural light and any obvious way out, he must have been deliberately brought here, but by whom and for what purpose he could not discern. If it was to aid him, he would not have been left alone in such uncomfortable or unfavourable circumstances, but neither did one take a captive and not restrain them.
All he knew was that he was utterly lost and without his arms, and of course, that his father would be most displeased that he had managed to get himself into whatever trouble it may turn out to be. He would far rather be scolded by his father than here but unfortunately he would have to escape the latter before he had to face the former. The only choice he had at present was in which direction to start walking.
Even the oddly glowing vegetation stuck to the walls was of no use, while it shone more in one direction and less in the other, he had never seen it before to know why. The brighter light could mean he was going deeper into the cave, or it could mean that it was closer to a way out. Sighing softly, he brushed his tunic down before deciding to wander the path where the light was dimmer. While it made it harder to see anything, he hoped it meant he was nearer to an exit, or at least a better source of light.
While the luminescent plant life didn't provide much light, it at least showed him where the walls were, and spared him from being trapped in complete darkness. Some light was always better than no light. That probably wasn't always true of course, but right now, lost and alone, the general accuracy of the statement was irrelevant.
Legolas moved forwards slowly, peering into the darkness while his ears strained for any sounds around him. Something was amiss, he just wasn't sure what. Thranduil would no doubt have figured everything out already, but he did not share his father's wisdom or experience and unless he made it back home safely, he never would.
Shaking the dark thought aside, he followed the tunnel until he felt fresh air, hoping the situation was not as bad as he had feared, he moved towards it with less caution. The glow of the plant life faded as he stepped into a slightly lighter section of the tunnel but despite all the signs of the outside world, he could not see an exit, only more of the dark tunnel where the vegetation regained its dim light.
A light gust of wind made him look up and the riddle was solved. This section of the tunnel had no roof, but the way out was hundreds of feet up and the rock face was sheer and smooth, there were no cracks or jutting rocks that could be used as hand-holds to climb out. His optimism plummeted as disappointment welled, the situation suddenly felt far grimmer and the sharp feeling of dread in his gut did nothing to help.
Pushing away from the cavern wall he had leant against, he resolved to move forward, knowing nothing would be gained from standing there in despair. He could but continue along the path he had chosen and hope it was the right direction, at least now he knew that his odd source of light did indeed diminish closer to other sustained sources. If nothing else, it was something positive learnt that might aid him.
After walking for what felt like hours, he seemed no closer to finding an exit and he didn't know how to be sure he wasn't going in circles when everywhere looked the same. If it was his fate to wander this cave for the rest of his days, he would rather his days were very few. While he wasn't unfamiliar with caves due to his father's stronghold, he could not understand how the Dwarves could live in such dark conditions away from the life of the world, it certainly wasn't something he wanted to contend with while he slowly starved to death…
Silently berating himself for such thoughts, the young Prince continued down his chosen path until he heard something ahead of him. While he was unlikely to make noise enough to be noticed, he couldn't help sneaking carefully forward, hoping whatever he had heard was not an enemy just waiting for him to get closer.
Peering carefully round the corner his eyes widened in surprise as he wondered if his heart had stopped and his blood had frozen. While he knew the tales, he had not realised such a thing still existed and it was a truth he had no care to learn, least of all when he held no means of defending himself. He moved away, slowly and carefully, hoping the creature had yet to notice him. He needed to get far enough away that his scent, and fear, would not draw attention to him.
At a cross-road in the tunnel, he hastily picked a direction, mind reeling too much to remember which way he had come from. The sight that he had just witnessed would not leave him and it would be a fate he shared if he failed to find a way out soon. He had his answer now of why he was alone and unbound, only now, he did not want it. He was prey, a little meal to wander around until the creature, or more likely, creatures, decided to hunt him down and chase him through the darkness until he was caught and devoured…
The feeling of nausea and his spinning mind were only going to hinder him, but what it had done to that man…he didn't want that to be his fate, so much blood and gore and too many innards that he didn't need to see, dead eyes still frozen in fear and pain, he couldn't let that happen to him, he had to go home. His father was waiting and he was meant to protect his people, not be torn apart alone in this foreboding place.
He knew enough of what the stories told, the Dark Lord, when he was but a servant himself, had held the title of their Lord, but they did not tell how many of them there would be, nor how to defeat them, let alone without weapons. Of all the messes he managed to find himself in... Why could the creatures not have all been destroyed in the prior ages as he had always believed? That they could be so close to his home and no one realise it…
Letting out a shaky breath he continued along the tunnel as swiftly and silently as he could. He had to find a way out, he just had to. Reaching a large chamber he paused briefly and looked around, he couldn't see anything but there was a knot in his stomach that refused to stop nagging at him that a threat was right there. There were too many places in the dark vastness for something to hide and lie in wait.
It was then he saw a glimmer of light and realised that across the opposite side was a half-concealed exit. Losing what patience and caution he had, he made a move towards the way out, wanting nothing more than to be in the sunlight that had now risen from the lonely night he had spent in the cave. As he reached halfway something moved and he stopped and darted back just in time to avoid a swiping claw that could well have disembowelled him.
Stepping into what radiance the sun had managed to spread into the cavern, Legolas swallowed hard as he gained a full and far too up-close view of the creature. It was tall and lithe, covered in a thick grey fur, large pointed ears and sharp black eyes adorned its long snout ended with a powerful nose and filled with razor sharp teeth. The long limbs made for a good reach and the claws were as sharp and dangerous as any sword, combined with the obvious strength and speed the creatures held, it made for a deadly opponent.
He hesitated a moment too long, torn between trying to reach the opening and turning back the way he came. The Werewolf pounced, knocking him to the ground and holding him in place. It seemed to study him for a moment, perhaps in disappointment of how easy he had been to catch, but it gave Legolas a moment of his own to act.
His hand had connected with something when he hit the ground and while he wasn't sure what it was, he was certainly going to try to use it as a weapon. Bringing his arm round as quickly as he could, he connected with the Werewolf's head, he had expected a fight, to have to try and push himself free, but the creature leapt backwards, a low growl emanating from its throat.
All he had succeeded in doing was angering his unwanted opponent and what was apparently a bone, from what he didn't want to know, would be of no use in defending himself from the inevitable savage attack.
He moved backwards again, hoping to move beyond the point it could reach him by jumping. It was probably a futile hope, but some action was better than none and this way he at least had a better view and more time to react. What he needed was a weapon, preferably a bow; he was a good shot and it meant he didn't have to get close to those claws, but right now, anything would suffice. A crumbling bone that had already been bitten through was certainly not going to be of any use…
Spotting what looked to be a dagger or short sword not far away, Legolas took a deep breath before he dashed for it. A weight landed on him, knocking him to the floor and he knew he hadn't been fast enough. He tensed, waiting for the claws or teeth to embed into his skin, but instead the familiar sound of an arrow being loosed travelled through the air, followed by a yelp. The weight on him shifted slightly and he took the opportunity to grab the knife and turn.
Just as the Werewolf's jaws lunged towards his neck, the Prince managed to force the blade hard into the creature's own throat. He felt a sharp pain as it fell on top of him, the teeth piercing his shoulder from the impact.
As the body was lifted off him, he couldn't help the smile that formed when he saw Thranduil offer his hand to help him stand. His father had come personally to his aid and he had never been happier to see him. While he would undoubtedly be reprimanded for ending up in such ill circumstance, something that was not nearly as appealing as it had been when he first woke, he wanted nothing more than to be with his father and the calm safety his presence always offered.
Stepping into the sunlight, he was surprised to find he did not recognise his surroundings and wondered just how far he was from home. Following his father to the small makeshift camp, he sat and let the healer tend to him, pleased when Thranduil remained with him. Once the healer had finished, he leaned into his father, much to the older man's surprise, but taking the hint, he wrapped his arms around Legolas and provided his son with the comfort he sought.
Legolas smiled into the embrace, it had been a long time since his father had held him and if nothing else, that almost made all this worth it. He knew Thranduil loved him but having the King make such an obvious and physical display of it was something he cherished. He had always loved being in his father's embrace as a child and while he would not so openly admit it, it was something he missed now that he was too old for such interaction.
As the camp was cleared away, Legolas was helped onto a horse as they made their way home. It was not the way he would ever have chosen to spend a night, but he had survived and it had been a learning curve to say the least. He just wasn't sure that his friends were going to believe him when he told them he had almost been eaten by something they all thought was extinct.
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