The elf is Legolas
Chapter 5: Journey north
"As to who I am," here the elf sneered and pushed back his hood completely, "It shall probably mean little to you, but I am Legolas."
As Legolas had answered this question, Faramir risked another. "Where are you from?"
Mirkwood to him was just a name on a map of the northlands that he'd seen once in his father's library. It didn't help. He tried again, "Why are you here?"
One of the other elves broke in, "Should we risk a fire, my Lord?"
"No," said Legolas. He pushed Faramir away, "Walk. You need to after the ride, but don't imagine you can escape."
Faramir did not think the elf would have answered his question even if they hadn't been interrupted. He walked as Legolas had indicated, aware all the time of the bright eyes of the elves watching him. He felt as though he were a colt they were considering purchasing, or gelding, and the idea made his skin itch. He was careful to go nowhere near the trees; he did consider making a bolt for it, but he saw one of the elves - this one dark haired - watching him and remembered what Mithrandir had told him about elves and their prowess with the bow.
His walking prevented him from listening to his captors, but he noticed that they were using the time to talk amongst themselves. From their movements he deduced that there was some dissension, and that he was the cause of it, but what that might be he had no idea. At last Legolas called, "Son of Denethor! Here." Faramir suppressed his annoyance at being addressed as if he were one of his father's hounds, and returned to Legolas. "Sit," said Legolas.
"Should I bark?" said Faramir. His was temper beginning to rise but he obeyed, and sat on the bedroll Legolas indicated.
"I know little of the ways of Men," Legolas said. "Do you feel tempted to?" He crouched down and retied Faramir's legs; the bonds were firm but not over-tight, he would not escape this night, but would take no hurt. Having done this, Legolas handed him a piece - a very small piece - of what looked like honey cake.
"What is this?" he asked.
"Food, son of Denethor. Are you not hungry?"
Cautiously, for who knew what elves put in their food, Faramir tasted it. It was rather pleasant, somewhat like honey cake but more so, and when he had finished it Legolas gave him water in a wooden bowl to wash it down. Oddly, once he'd eaten and drunk, he felt as full as if he'd sat down to one of the dinners of thirteen courses his father occasionally hosted in Minas Tirith.
Legolas was still watching him as if he'd performed some particularly difficult feat and Faramir looked down at his bound wrists, only to look up again when Legolas first touched his face and then ran his hand down his neck to hold him in place. He reminded himself that they would not have fed him if the intent were to kill him; no warrior would waste food in that way and whatever these elves were, they were warriors.
"I have always been told that men are little more than beasts," said Legolas. "But you...just how different are you?"
"I am as other men," said Faramir. For an insane moment he thought that Legolas would kiss him and braced himself, fully intending to bite down as hard as he could. As soon as the idea had come it was gone and he was not sure where it had come from. Faramir had not kissed a man since his before his brother turned fifteen and though Legolas was as beautiful, as indeed he had been told all elves were, he was undeniably male.
"I think not," said Legolas. He pushed Faramir backwards, down onto the bedroll. "Your kind need sleep."
They were heading north. He longed for a chance to escape, but none had arisen, his captors were wily and determined enough to frustrate any plans he made, or they could read his mind. He was not sure which.
He still had no idea why they had taken him. He was by now convinced that he was the cause of some dispute among his captors. Their Lord, Legolas, seemed to have one idea and a few supporters, with a majority, led by a dark-haired elf he discovered was called Dorlion, another. As Legolas was their lord his will prevailed, but only just. This seemed curious to Faramir, he tried to imagine his father tolerating that level of disagreement among his men, and failed. He hoped they were not expecting to be able to ransom him from his father; he knew only too well that his worth could be measured in silver rather than gold, and not much of that.
By now he was allowed to ride properly upright, but his horse was led by one of the elves and his wrists were firmly tied. He was well warned that if he attempted to escape he would make the rest of the journey held over someone's lap like a sack of meal. The miserable discomfort of the first day in his mind he allowed them to believe he obeyed willingly even while he looked for a chance to run.
Sooner than he had expected, they reached what must be the southern end of Mirkwood. Had they started further north than Faramir had thought? Or did the elves know secret ways? He believed they had skirted the Dead Marshes to the east but to cover the Brown Lands at this speed and with a prisoner...that was impressive. Once again he considered the possibility of escape, and his heart sank - if they could travel at that speed, what chance had he to outrun them?
A half-month and Faramir could see a mountain ahead. He wondered if that was their destination, but it appeared not: they skirted round the edge of a lake and headed slightly west. Nobody told him where they were and he did not ask, but he surmised this was the Long Lake, and if so there should be a town nearby, the one the maps in Gondor had called Esgaroth. His hopes rose, but the only thing that might confirm his deductions was that his captors drew more closely around him.
He'd tried a couple of times to talk to the elves, but only Legolas seemed interested and even he refused to answer questions, but with them closer he essayed a smile at Dorlion. He received no response and shrugged.
Without warning they turned into the forest - Faramir hadn't even seen the path - and approached a hill in the side of which were huge stone doors and before these flowed a swift river over which was a narrow bridge. Legolas blew a horn and the doors opened, their silence eerie in the half-light of evening. The elves dismounted, and as they did so more came out of the gates and led their horses away.
Now he looked at it, even more disquieting was the black opening of the cave beyond but as he was surrounded by elves and being led by the binding around his wrists, Faramir had no choice but to go in. Torches lit the passageway, and as they travelled down it the elves raised their voices in a song which made the hairs on Faramir's arms rise in fear even as his heart sighed at its loveliness.
After a time they reached a great hall, and Faramir could not help but look round in astonishment. It appeared to have been carved out of the living rock for even in the bright light of many torches he could see no joins or cracks. He felt a pull on the bindings around his wrists; the other elves moved to stand to one side and he and Legolas were left to walk the length of the hall alone.
An elf sat in a carved wooden throne, but even had he not Faramir would have known this had to be their king. He was as beautiful as Legolas but Faramir had a sense of great age. He bowed, feeling Legolas do the same, and waited in the silence.
At last the king said, "Well?"
"My father, I bring you the son of Denethor."
What happens next?
Please visit the talk page to comment on this chapter.