All Hollow's Eve and The Unmasking of the Red King.
by Peaceangel

Email: earthdanser AT verizon.net
Unbeta'd and rushed! So please forgive the rough spots…phew, made it for the October Challenge.
Rating: NC-17
No infringement intended.

"All Hollow's Eve," whispered a voice in quiet wonder. The fire crackled, shooting red sparks into the night. Mists seeped out of the ground and the earth smelled of spicy decay. The season was upon them when things were ripe and the very blood quickened with a sense of urgency. Death approached and life grew heavy with a sharp need for completion. Seed would soon be needed.

The starlight shown pale through the thick smoke that curled upward and several lumbering bodies moved with unexpected grace around the blue flames that licked at the charcoal blackened cauldron. Their sharp hooves struck the marbled floor of the outdoor alter with loud clicks which echoed into the surrounding woods.

It was a night of blessings and even the trees swayed gently to the eerie music of the pipe. Their soft rustling of fall leaves added to the haunting strains. `Shivering in anticipation,' thought Bes with a smile, as he listened to the sounds of the forest.

Frost was coming and there was a sharp crackle to everything around them. It was time to honor their Lady of the Stars with a sacrifice. She who was greatest and most mighty of all the gods, She who was their Light Bringer, She who made the trees to bear fruit, and who blessed them with abundance …She loved this ritual best for it was in Her honor and …it soothed her while the Red King slept.

Bes loved the Lady, irreverent though he may have seemed to his friends. He loved Her enough that he would choose to die for her pleasure. But he was not comely enough, not nearly enough to awaken her dead Sire. A stranger had been chosen for this Hollow's Eve. Bes did not like strangers. Still, he could not deny the awe he felt at the vision of the sweetheart that was coming to them this night; a stranger, perhaps, but still worthy of their Lady …perhaps even chosen by Her. Perhaps this blonde beauty would be the one She had waited for these long centuries to rouse her Lord from his slumber.

Anup sauntered past him, jarring Bes from his glassy eyed reverie, and flung a fistful of fragrant herbs into the cauldron. A large purple plume blossomed into the air like stardust. Bes looked at his friend in frank appreciation. Anup could one day pass as a fair magician. And he was handsome. The firelight gleamed off his powerful chest, accentuating his pectoral muscles and prominent biceps. His golden brown hair curled in a thick glossy mass across his broad shoulders and down a strong back. His face was beautiful, too, and would have rivaled any mortal's except for the points of his ears, that more closely resembled those of Elfkind. But like his brethren, Anup was neither Man nor Elf.

His broadly muscled back fluidly tapered to a waist that grew thick with wiry brown fur and widened to the magnificent proportions of a thoroughbred more impressive than those steeds bred for war in the land of Rohan. His gloriously long tail looked wild and yet silky to the touch if any dared get close enough to make the attempt. Bes laughed at the outrageous thought. Someone's elbow jabbed him in the ribs, demanding silence. This was supposed to be serious.

Bes, short, gray and less beautiful than the others, continued to chuckle. His creased face bore an infectious grin. He was too happy to be intimidated although the group of centaurs presented a rather fiercesome sight in the darkness, one that would quail the blood of Middle-Earth's most seasoned warriors.

This was going to be a special night. A very special night, indeed. He chuckled again and leaned over the bubbling liquid to gaze into the blackened brew. He was a Seer and like the others had been attentively marking the progress of the two-leggeds for some nights. Soon they would be here, just in time. The new moon peered her light through the gray clouds.

Utte poured the prepared neorli beads into the egg shaped container. He was not so young as Bes, nor as old, and took his role very seriously. Each tiny bulb had been handpicked and he was careful not to break any of them. There were thousands of course, and only a small handful would be needed for tonight's ritual, yet each was precious. Without them the sacrifice could not be given to the benevolent and not so benevolent gods of their land. Utte bent over the vessel and reverently fastened the lid.

Bes trotted over to him and after watching the serious care his friend took to settle the fragrant mound in place he whistled appreciatively. Without warning Bes playfully lunged at the brown furry backside that was still presenting itself to him as an irresistible target. The two bodies collided in the dirt, arms and hooves flailing madly. Bes laughed maniacally as the poor servant of the neorli scrambled to keep the container from toppling over while fending off Bes's amorous attack. Utte resettled the jostled vessel and cursed vehemently at Bes for his carelessness.

"The ritual has not started yet," he whinnied to the gray haired Bes.

Anup's snarling reprimand brought them both to sudden obedient silence. Only the gleam in Bes's eye suggested this was a temporary condition meant only to mollify his severe companions. Bes fell to gazing at the beautiful image of the Wood Elf that now played with growing clarity on the surface of the liquid pool which simmered within the cauldron. Skin as white as milk, eyes the color of sapphires, and hair spun from precious gold. This one was worthy of a Goddess. Bes smiled in anticipation as Utte brought out the chains…

Aragorn used Anduril to hack at the vines that grew in all directions. Gimli huffed loudly as he swung his axe and pushed his bulky body past the unobliging foliage.

"Its hopeless," he muttered for the fifteenth time in the past hour. "Lets turn back, Aragorn. There must be another way."

Aragorn paused and wiped at his brow. He was half tempted to give in to the dwarf's entreaties when a whistle from high above their heads chirped in a rapid staccato fashion.

"Legolas," said the Ranger, with a note of relief.

"Bah, its about time," grumbled the dwarf.

Within moments the Archer appeared beside them, silent as a ghost and in the growing mists as seemingly transparent. A fair apparition, at least, thought the Dwarf with a smirk.

"Did my absence distress you, Master Dwarf?" teased the Elf, sensing the stout warrior's eyes upon him. He gently lifted a vine that untangled and parted for him effortlessly.

Gimli made a face and passed under the relaxed greens held aloft for him by a pale white hand. The slender body of the Elf made a slight bow as the Dwarf passed through the untangled foliage.

Gimli recovered from his momentary lapse and reached for an appropriatly gruff rejoinder. "Distress isn't exactly the word, Elf. Although I am sure you have been enjoying the trees and the views from their branches we have been down here toiling for hours and making not a dent in finding a path into this damned forest."

Aragorn laid a hand on the Dwarf's shoulder to forestall further debate. "Legolas," said the Man, "your absence was felt these last two days. What did you find?"

The Elf lowered his head. The Dúnadan's commanding presence always had a sobering effect, despite the fact that Legolas was several hundred years his senior. He had been enjoying himself, just as the Dwarf accused, while his two companions toiled on the ground. Legolas would have to be more careful of the two mortals.

"I surveyed the woods in all directions and your heading is correct, despite Master Gimli's protests to the contrary. If we travel easterly the forest loosens its tight grip and will allow ease of passage for land dwellers."

Aragorn nodded. "How far before we hit the river?" he asked as he brought his almost emptied canteen to his lips.

"Not far," said the Archer who fell into step with the two warriors. While the others hacked and tore at the branches of underbrush that ensnared their feet, Legolas deftly slipped ahead of them to offer a gentler path. He placed his hands upon a tangled thicket and hummed until it melted softly to let him pass. He held the untangled branches aside like a curtain for the mortals to pass through.

"There will be a place to rest there as well, I think. Something has roused the trees but it concerns us not. If we avoid those who dwell here all will be well."

Gimli paused with his axe over his head and squinted at the golden form of the Archer beside him, wondering if he heard correctly. "Elf, you have to speak more plain that that! What dwells in this forest that need avoidin'?"

"I am sorry, Master Gimli, I did not mean to be obscure. The trees do not give clear descriptions as would suit your curiosity. Suffice it to say there is no evil here," the golden Archer smiled as his bright eyes flew irresistibly up to his beloved trees.

Aragorn turned to look at the Elf as well. "But you would have us avoid what is here, Legolas?"

"Only to not disturb the cycles of life that are preparing to bring forth new seed. I cannot explain further."

The Ranger looked at him for a moment longer then nodded. The Elf was as elusive as Elrond of Rivendell when that Lord was set upon with visions none but perhaps Galadriel could share and truly comprehend. Aragorn understood therefore that the Elf Prince was not deliberately withholding information, only that words did not exist to impart it to mortal minds.

Satisfied, Aragorn set forth on their prearranged course. Soon they would come to a river where they could make camp. The Dwarf's surly mood suggested Gimli could use some sleep and, as for the Prince, Aragorn had little doubt the fair and elusively mysterious Wood Elf would be happy ensconced high in the branches of an elm. For himself, Aragorn grimaced at the unavoidable fact that he needed a bath.

The river was cold, almost unbearably so, but the Man plunged into it with determination. He couldn't recall the last time water had touched his skin and, by the looks their lovely Elven Companion had been throwing him and the Dwarf, Aragorn decided a bath was now a priority.

They would take today to rest before continuing their journey. Gandalf told them it was imperative they take this course and rendezvous with him in Edoras several days hence. The White Wizard had been mysterious about the change in plans but Aragorn did not argue. So long as the hobbits were safe with Treebeard he no longer felt the keen urgency to push himself and his companions at breakneck speed. They ate well that afternoon and as predicted, the Elf took to the trees, while Gimli was already fast asleep by their camp fire.

Aragorn let the water carry him awhile until the fear of hypothermia forced him to finally get out. Now, Aragorn mused as he laid out his washed cloths on a flat rock, if they could get the Dwarf to succumb to the need for a soak perhaps he could convince their lovely Archer to agree to rejoin them on the ground. The Ranger found himself tripping much too often as a result of his eyes' tendency to search the tree tops for that reassuring glimpse of green and gold.

He'd have to be plain with the Elf that he preferred him to stay close at hand. Legolas would never refuse the Man, Aragorn was fairly sure of that, but it would probably mean a definite bath for the Dwarf. The image of Gimli wiping his greasy fingers into his beard with a satisfied belch and the scandalized look upon the Elf's lovely features brought an uncharacteristically wide smile to the Man's face. He really had to get the Elf Prince to unbend a little. It was the last thought that Aragorn remembered before the sudden sweet smell of oranges assaulted his senses and he lost consciousness.

When he finally awoke the sun was beginning its decline, setting the heavens on fire with bright red trails of flame. Aragorn shook his head and dazedly sat up. He was still naked but instantly came to alertness as the Dwarf came running over to him.

"Are ye alright?" cried the Dwarf.

Aragorn nodded as he slowly rose to his feet. "What happened?"

"They took him, I think!" cried the Dwarf as he handed the Man his clothes and sword. "A beast, the likes of which I've never before laid eyes on! Half man, half horse…if I am not losing my mind. I swear it."

Aragorn stared at the Dwarf in disbelief. "Gimli, Middle-earth is home to many races but I have never heard of such an animal. What did you say? They took him? Legolas?"

"Aye, I think so. I woke up to find the Elf's weapons on the ground and signs of a struggle. This thing was leaning over me, smilin' like he was insane, and his body was like Hasuf…wide and gray with a tail like straw."

The Man dressed quickly, all the while scanning the woods around them for sounds or smells that might confirm the Dwarf's strange tale. "Did you smell anything? Oranges, perhaps?" asked the Man as they set off into the woods.

"Aye, I did. I thought it was a dream. The most delicious mouth watering smell, it was. But why?"

Aragorn did not spare the Dwarf any further comments as he took in the scene of disarray at their camp. He bent to examine the ground.

"Horse tracks," whispered the Ranger, and although his voice was steady his heart thudded loudly in his chest. Aragorn fell instantly into his tracker's mode with a feeling of déjà vu. Their mad run across mountains and deserts for the Uruk who had abducted the hobbits had not been that long ago. Now it was their Elf who was in trouble and Aragorn did not pause to consider why this anxiety pierced through places within him that this terrible war had not yet touched.

Aragorn glanced up at the sky. The sun was about to set and he had to hurry before the tracks were lost to the darkness. Yet, in the back of his mind, he could not help but wonder why Gandalf the White had put them on this path. The thought of the Elf Prince being dragged off by some half human monster was unbelievable after all they had been through and Aragorn found himself feeling unaccountably incensed at the Istari.

The thick mists rolled like coils of rope around their ankles and the ground grew covered with slippery moss. Night had fallen and moisture seeped uncomfortably into their clothing as the fog grew heavier. Gimli cursed as the Man knelt to examine the ground. A wane light filtered through the trees.

"I fear its impossible, Aragorn," fretted the Dwarf over the Ranger's hunched figure. The Man had not uttered a sound, so intently focused had he been upon the trail that would take them to their missing companion.

"Shhhh!" urged the Man suddenly.

The faint sounds of voices and music reached them through the thick forest.

"Singing," whispered Gimli, in amazement.

Aragorn gestured for quiet and signaled that the Dwarf follow stealthily so not to alert any sentries that might be guarding the festivities. The sounds of revelry grew as they approached the edge to a wide clearing where the ground sloped downward to a round amphitheater. Gimli inhaled loudly in alarm but stopped short as Aragorn's elbow jabbed him sharply.

Below them, under a canopy of tall trees, and half surrounded by ancient pillars, the carousing centaurs frolicked in the flickering red light of a fire. Music piped in sensual strains into the surrounding woods, and heavy bodies slick from exhaustion, danced with abandon. The perfumed air was thick and sweet with the citrus- like herb Aragorn's mind tried to identify since first having smelled it out by the river. He knew it was rare, one Elrond dared not use unless forced to, for it was considered precious.

Gimli cursed beside him. Several of the revelers had danced their way up to the edge only feet away from the two mortal spectators. A young centaur with raven black hair and fair skin raised up on hind legs, in full view of the hidden warriors. His horse body was chestnut in color and his belly was pale like wheat. But what was most prominent in the incongruous vision was his painfully aroused state. His member was to all appearances normal for an equine, get clearly engorged and weeping profusely. The smell of arousal hit them sharply. The beautiful creature roared in abandon and leapt upon a dancing centaur that passed his way.

So violent was their tussle that Aragorn and Gimli backed up quickly, fearful the wrestling couple would plow directly into their hiding place and crush them beneath the substantial weight of the two powerful bodies. Aragorn hefted Gimli up into a tree, the Dwarven warrior cursing mightily at the urgency and managing to utter he was no damn tree-hugging Elf. Aragorn managed to haul the heavy body of his friend onto a large branch and he leapt to the safety of another tree as the two centaurs rolled violently below them.

Aragorn could not tell at first if this was a mating ritual or a fight to the death, so thunderous was the battle between the two huge beasts. Hooves, sharp as knives flashed in the starlight, tails whipped with the power to skim flesh from bone, and the smell of blood and sweat filled his nostrils, when the bodies tumbled to a sudden frozen halt beneath the Ranger's tree. The agitated dust and swirling mist obscured Aragorn's vision and he held his breath, wondering if he had been discovered.

Slowly the mists parted and the sounds of heavy panting filled his ears. Aragorn swallowed, his mouth suddenly dry as he watched in frank fascination as the larger, blondish centaur gripped a fistful of jet black hair painfully to still the skewered youth beneath him. His enormous phallus yanked out of the warm orifice into which it had been embedded. The chestnut body of the colt beneath him whimpered and made as if to escape but the centaur's other hand closed threateningly around the youth's ivory throat while two front horse limbs secured him from escaping. Slowly, so slowly that Aragorn, who watched from above almost whimpered himself in anticipation, the larger being rubbed his slick member over the other's reddened anus and dipped into the puckering opening an inch at a time. The being beneath him quivered, a look of pain and delight transfixing his lovely features, as he pushed back for more.

Aragorn leaned forward as the two bodies below began the familiar rhythm known to men and beasts of all manner through out nature. It was the dance of timelessness. The Man gripped his tree branch and unknowingly ground into its rough bark with his straining penis, trapped behind the confines of his clothing, as he watched the eternal bumping and grinding dance of mating. The larger centaur no longer had to confine his partner in a choke hold and the two caressed each other blindly, lips suckling on ears and chests, as their bodies strained for completion. The roar, when it came, was deafening, and the earth was gifted with salty spools of seed as the young lover poured his ejaculate over the foliage.

When it was long over Aragorn slowly came back to himself. His own breathing was harsh in his ears and his hand was slick with cum. He hastily pulled his hand out of his pants, not even remembering when he had slipped it in there, and self consciously readjusted his clothing as he slid down from the tree. The centaurs had long gone and Aragorn looked around in a bit of a daze. He looked up into the tree where Gimli had been hiding and was alarmed to see the Dwarf hanging among the branches with eyes closed.

"Gimli!" he whispered as he climbed up to his friend. A faint odor of oranges assailed him and the gentle snores of the Dwarf confirmed that Gimli was now lost to the irresistible sleep of neorli blossoms. Aragorn did not pause to linger on the contended smile on the Dwarf's lips.

Aragorn crawled back to the edge of the clearing, unsurprised by the bacchanal scene which greeted him. His urgency to find Legolas was nearing a feverish pitch. The beautiful Prince was taken by these lusty centaurs for a reason and Aragorn now had a driving need to get to his companion before something dreadful happened. Warrior or no, the Prince was now unarmed and probably subjected to the same mood altering drug he and the Dwarf had experienced. He began to navigate his way around the circular arena looking for signs of the Archer.

The ritual, loosely organized before, seemed to have broken down into a complete orgy by the time the Man made his way around the small theater. Some of the centaurs had adorned themselves with silk scarves and expensive vestments that must have been acquired from human settlements and strutted in obscene parody of men. Laughter and drunken revelry now filled the night. He almost believed his presence would go unchallenged as he observed several couples engrossed in their warlike act of love. Amidst the riotous activities, almost forgotten it seemed, lay a slim pale figure upon a mat strewn with flower petals.

Aragorn burst from the cover of the forest and ran to the unconscious form of the Elf. A cruel metal chain, undoubtedly man made, secured the Elf to a tree. It attached to a metal choker that encircled the pale column of the Archer's throat. Aragorn frantically searched the unmoving figure for a pulse. The Elf stirred beneath his touch but did not awaken. Aragorn looked at the incongruous sight of several lengths of chain draped elaborately around the slender body of the naked Elf and swallowed self consciously at his unbidden reaction to the sight. Almost like jewelry, the silver links coiled around the Elf's long muscled limbs, and twined around the slim waist and chest, forcing the golden body into a seductive pose of openness. Aragorn cursed at the obvious intent of the centaurs and at his own untimely desires.

Aragorn ran his hands down the lengths of chain, his calloused fingers skimming the silky skin as he did so. He could break this but just as he thought to do so voices aroused him to the immediate threat of being discovered. He quickly leapt behind a grouping of marble pillars, adorned with more evidence of human encounters. Silks, hats, and garb fit for royalty lay tossed about in a heap. Aragorn prayed the two centaurs that approached would move on.

Anup stumbled toward the sleeping sacrifice. His slightly unfocused eyes trailed hotly over the stretched out form of the Wood Elf. His tail flicked nervously. The hour was approaching. With a deft hand he unfastened the neck choker and lowered down on his two front legs to reach the golden body. The most of the offending chains were removed, leaving only the choker and a slender length of mithril coiled around the Elf's waist.

Legolas groaned as strong arms lifted him from the mat. His eyes fluttered open but comprehension did not seem to enter into the vague blue gaze that swept dazedly around him.

Bes approached his friend and looked longingly at the delectable creature that started to stir in Anup's embrace. He couldn't resist a little fondling. The Elf was so delicious.

Legolas groaned as hands ran down his flanks. Fingers cruelly pinched his nipples and twisted sharply as he cried out in protest. He tried to push away but he was trapped in a vice like grip while two sets of hands roamed and squeezed his flesh with abandon.

"No," moaned the Elf. Legolas desperately tried to make his eyes focus as awareness began to return to him. His mind was still hazy but the fact that he was being groped against his will was rapidly bringing him to a state of alarmed wakefulness.

What had happened? Was he captured by orcs? That thought brought a certain terror to his already fearful mind. The strength of the arms that held him suggest something worse than orcs. Uruks!

Suddenly awake and terrified, Legolas began to buck and twist with all his might against the menace that had captured him. He landed a blow to the head of one of his assailants before his wrists were forcefully grabbed and a voice urged him to relax.

"Shhhhh, sweetness…"

It was a strange word to hear from a Uruk but before his brain could think about that further a sweet and pungent smell of oranges burst under his nose. It hit him more effectively than any weapon of the enemy he had ever known. His limbs went soft, and his mind fuzzy.

"Not too much," urged another voice. "Don't put the dear to sleep. I like to look at his eyes."

Legolas whimpered fretfully but no longer protested as hands shifted him and he was placed, unbeknownst to him, in the central alter space. He did not care or could not voice it if he did, when fingers trailed down the insides of his legs, pushing them apart and a wet hot mouth came down on his slackened member. Another pair of hands gripped his head and another pair of lips came down on his hotly.

The Elf groaned, blond hair tossing upon the silken pillow borrowed from the chamber of a human princess. His fingers gripped at the elaborate brocaded material that he was laid upon as two sets of mouths worked him, bringing him to a peak. He groaned again, blurry vision skimming around at the half men, half horse beings that looked down on him ecstatically.

"He's beautiful," said one of them softly. The other nodded, unable to keep from touching the soft Elven skin.

"It's a dream," Legolas whispered to himself, but bucked upward at the intruding fingers that now spread him, intent on smearing him with fragrant oil.

Aragorn bit his lip at the Elf's cry. He had watched from his hiding place, incensed at the sight of that beast putting his hands on the fair Prince. He looked about him frantically, for anything that might help him. Without a plan he'd have to charge at them! But alone with only his sword, the chances of survival were slim. Aragorn's heart pounded in dread at what was happening to the Elf. He tried not to think of how alluring his friend looked. But the memory of the seductive pose the beautiful Archer had been arranged into haunted him. He had to come up with a plan…

The leader motioned the other centaur away from the writhing sacrifice and a handful of red berries were cast into the smoldering cauldron. Fragrant smoke filled the arena and Aragorn's head began to swim from the intoxicating neorli. Bodies swayed to the escalating tune of the minstrel's pipes and the dance took on a warlike beat. The images seemed to blur and blend with one another as Aragorn fought to stay awake. He had been thinking something just now, but his brain felt fuzzy.

The powerful looking blond centaur moved around the fire and raised his hands to the sky. Aragorn held his breath as he tried to focus his eyes on the shining blade. A lethal dagger was raised point first to the stars.

"It is time for the sacrifice. Our Lady has sent us Her favored one. Her King sleeps. Our Lady asks for seed but the King demands blood. So be it. Seed for the Lady and Blood for her King."

"Hail Red King," murmured voices from around the fire.

At the mention of blood, a thrumming agitation filled the swaying bodies of centaurs. Aragorn cursed under his breath. The time had come for him to do something! But his fingers felt numb as he tried to grasp his sword. It was the neorli, he realized disjointedly. He swayed and fell backwards, into the heaps of forgotten clothes. Legolas was going to be sacrificed to the gods of these beasts and he, Heir of Isildur, was just going to sit here and let it happen!

A another muffled cry from the helpless Elf pushed Aragorn over the edge of his frozen despair. An irrational burning anger filled him at the image of the Prince being subjected to those animals' vile carnal pleasures. It was sacrilege to think of such a pure being violated by these unnatural things. And here he stood: a Man. No, Aragorn thought, as he picked up the lustrous silks around him. Not just a Man. The Heir of Isildur. Who better to claim a Prince than a King?

He lurched forward, not completely balanced, and distantly aware that he was by all definitions `drunk.' But he had a plan and some remote part of his mind prayed it did not include walking out there and demanding they step aside for a real King to show them what was what! Steady, Estel, steady…

Legolas pushed at the hand that held his head and waved fragrant neorli beads under his nose. "Yes," said a sultry voice, filled with amusement. "You want it. You want it. Come on, wake up, beautiful."

Another pair of hands pried his legs apart, greasing him, fingers slipping cruelly inside him…searching out his most hidden places. Legolas screamed and twisted as those fingers curled inside, hitting a pleasure spot. He kicked and landed his foot on someone with enough force to dislodge one of his assailants. But when the hands released him, he felt abandoned. Revolted with himself, he pushed himself up and looked at the blond centaur who hovered over him.

Legolas was a warrior. Did these beasts think him weak as a hapless maid? He vaulted to his feet, swaying only a little from the drug. His pale skin shown like starlight and his wildly long hair hung like liquid sunlight around the crystal perfection of his face.

The blonde centaur smiled in lusty appreciation. The naked Elf was a vision truly worthy of the gods. He circled the gorgeous creature but did not anticipate the swiftness of the Wood Elf. Anup lunged but missed and found himself straddled by the golden demon. The Archer clamped his powerful legs to Anup's flanks and strong fingers wrapped around the centaur's throat.

Anup reared up on his hind legs with a roar of indignation. Yet there was something undeniably sexy about the situation. His tail whipped across the Elf's bare flesh, leaving angry red lines across thigh and leg. Legolas yelped and squeezed his powerful fingers around Anup's neck. The centaur bucked high into the air almost pitching the Woodland being from his sweating back. Legolas cursed loudly when the swishing tail swatted his rear but he clung to the flowing mane with all his strength.

Anup galloped ferociously around the theater, the centaur's sharp hooves sending sparks off the chipping marble. Yet Legolas was not under the illusion that this was a horse, like Brego, to be tamed. And soon his strength would fail him. Once dislodged from the centaur's back, Legolas knew he would be helpless. But Wood Elves, if nothing else, were attuned to nature. The nature of this beast had communicated itself plainly.

Legolas let one hand go, even as he held on with all his might to not be thrown off, and let his fingers trail down to the centaur's chest. The instant his fingers grazed one brown nipple, the storm ended. The centaur continued to move around agitatedly but did not pound the ground with all his might. The seeking hand traveled across his chest and the blonde demon that straddled him now moved against his furry back in an unmistakable way of invitation.

Anup smiled and dropped his hands to caress the Elf's long legs that hugged him. He tilted his head back to let the silk of Elven lips touch his flesh for the first time. So, he mused, the sacrifice was willing.

"Do you want me?" whispered the Elf that now stretched out against Anup's back.

Anup nodded, barely able to speak. He groaned as the Elf's erection poked him in his back. "Then you must let me go afterward," whispered the alluring creature that rubbed against him.

Anup struggled for speech. Bodies around them engaged in various stages of passion sent up a heady smell of sex. He wanted the Elf. Bes was watching very closely from near by. Damn him!

"I can't," he whispered. "Only the King can foreswear the sacrifice. He wants blood."

"But you want me, …I want you," urged the sultry creature that straddled him from behind. Anup lowered himself to the ground and savored the fragrant smell of the Elf's hair over his shoulder. Anup lifted his head back to taste the Elf's lips. Legolas shimmied backward across the length of his brown furry back after treating him to a kiss.

Anup groaned. Did this blonde two legged beauty think to mount him? The thought was tantalizing.

Anup snarled in anticipation. He wanted this creature. He'd do anything to have the Elf… "Alright!" he whispered. He could feel Legolas's response but as the Elf went even lower a sharp strangled cry from the creature halted Anup's moans of delight.

The Elf was ripped from Anup's back by a sharp hand tangled in the creature's long blond hair. Bes flung the Elf to the ground.

"He belongs to the Lady!" he whispered to Anup. "None but She or the King can spare his life."

Anup stood to his full height and glared at Bes. But he knew the old gray steed was right. He looked at the dazed Elf and lamented. This one was too precious. Only a god should have him.

"Then let the ritual proceed, to the death," said Anup sadly.

"Not if I have anything to say about it!" growled a menacing voice. They all turned to behold an incongruous sight. A two legged Man, if appearances were not deceiving. Yet one of regal bearing and stature. Naked, it seemed, with a fiery red mask that hid the upper half of his face, and a red sash about his waist. He wore the sword of a King.

Anup's mouth dropped open. Bes stared.

The Man sauntered forward. "The Red King has awakened."

Legolas eyes focused upon the vision of the glorious Man before him and for a single moment could not fathom what he beheld. Surely the neroli was playing tricks on his mind. Could this be a god?

And then, gray familiar eyes fell on him. Aragorn. He almost burst out with the name in joy and relief but the warning in those commanding eyes ordered him to silence. If they were going to get out of this, he'd have to play along. The Human was resourceful, he told himself worriedly.

"…And I have come to claim my Prize."

Anup and Bes stared at each other, then at the Red King. Aragorn made a move to walk past them to the Elf that was still lying in a heap on the ground. Anup stepped in front to block his path.

"You are the Red King?"

Aragorn fixed the centaur with a steely stare. "You question me?"

Anup hesitated. Bes stepped forward, shrewd, as it was in his nature to be. "Nay, Sire. But if you claim the Sacrifice for yourself, you must best his champion, as it is written."

Anup glanced in annoyance at Bes. He had no desire to fight a god. Bes nudged him forward.

Aragorn unsheathed Anduril and circled the brown centaur. "I will defeat you if that is your wish. I have no desire to kill you. You have served the Lady well."

Bes halted Anup with a hand. "The Lady is pleased? But the ritual is not complete…"

Aragorn stepped forward decisively and snatched up the swaying Elf in his arms. "That is what I am here for."

The two centaurs looked at each other in confusion. Aragorn took a tiny step back.

Bes glared at him. "If that is so, complete the ritual here!"

Aragorn looked at the two centaurs and down at the confused Elf in his arms. The smell of the Elf's hair filled his mind with memories of flowers that grew in the gardens of Lothlorien. The body in his embrace was warm and solid. There was a hardness of muscle beneath the silken flesh which reminded him of the dewy softness of a maid and the lethal power of a lion. Why was it that Arwen never felt so sweet or so intoxicating?

Aragorn pulled the body of the Elf against him roughly, unable to control his mighty desire for more. Legolas's eyes widened with surprise and Aragorn wordlessly trailed a hand up the smooth chest to encircle the Prince's throat. They stared at each other, forgetting all about the centaurs who stood by and watched. Their hearts hammered madly and they stood as if on a precipice of an unknown and unexpected abyss. Legolas shivered in premonition and Aragorn's smile was feral as he prepared to take make the leap for them.

"I will take him," said the Red King.

Legolas gasped, unable to believe what he had just heard. The clamor of the centaurs rose to a frenzied pitch and the hand of the King that now roamed over him, all made his head spin. Fragrant neorli burst in tiny clouds of dust above their heads as the centaurs judiciously crushed several buds of the narcotic around the arena. The citrus smell brought a warm pleasant tingle to his flesh and his insides curled in anticipation of sexual completion. His traitorous body pressed closer to the Man's heat. The Ranger's body was hard as steel and his thick phallus becoming difficult to ignore as it began to jut out from under the borrowed red sash. Was this Aragorn? The steady Ranger had never shown any signs or inclinations that would suggest his heart belonged anywhere but with Arwen. Legolas tried to tell himself this was all part of the play. The Dúnadan had come to rescue him.

But the Man showed no signs of stopping. No drummed up excuses were offered as to why the `King' and the `Sacrifice' had to depart quickly from this wood on an important errand. Indeed, the Man seemed to be fully immersing himself in the role as powerful human hands gripped the Elf's flesh with growing fervor.

Just when Legolas was beginning to wonder if he should say something he was pushed to the ground and the Man's hard body settled over his own. It was definitely time to say something! But as the Prince prepared to do so Aragorn's tongue invaded his mouth. Legolas moaned, his senses overthrown by the demanding kiss. Arms came around him and to his astonishment Legolas found himself kissing the Man back. As if caught in a wave he could not hope to fight, the Prince's own arms came up to wrap around the Human's neck. Teeth mashed together, tongues groping in unfettered need, and hands now feverishly exploring unfamiliar terrain.

The Man was hard muscled, with skin that was course in certain spots and criss crossed with old scars. His chest and much of his body were covered in fine wiry hair. Legolas had never experienced this in a partner before and, even in his semi intoxicated state, or perhaps because of it, he found it very sensual to the touch. Aragorn hissed as the Elf pulled at it in fascination and growing ardor.

The Man groaned and trapped the Elf's wrists to the ground as he dipped his head to suckle and bite at the ivory column of the Prince's throat. Legolas moaned and gently tossed his head.

"No," Legolas whispered from some part of him that still remembered who they were and what their mission was supposed to be.

But the Man's unerring lips and teeth worried their way up the side of his jaw to the very sensitive point of an ear. The Elf gasped in delicious torment, vaguely aware of the thunderous noises of the centaurs who had given in to the sexual demands of the night. Some urge came over him to strike out at the figure of the Red King who would take him without asking. A saner part of his mind hoped he'd jar the Man out of his drunken delusion. His fist landed on Aragorn's jaw, almost dislodging the beautiful sequined mask that covered the Dúnadan's naturally regal features.

The Human wavered under the impact of the unexpected blow but his fingers tightened painfully on the slippery body that almost managed to get away. A madness that seemed more animal than Human flooded Aragorn's mind and he backhanded the gorgeous creature beneath him with enough strength to knock a man unconscious. The Elf went lax from the impact as Aragorn struggled to regain control of himself. He was behaving like an animal!

"Legolas?" he whispered fearfully as he stroked the pale unresponsive form beneath him. A dark bruise mottled the ivory perfection of the Elf's face from the Man's forceful blow. What was he doing??? Some part of Aragorn's mind screamed at him to stop this and get them both away from here while escape was still possible. He breathed a deep sigh of relief when long dark lashes fluttered and blue ringed sapphires slowly turned their stunned gaze upon him. Oddly, Aragorn's guilt dissolved under the glowing feeling of triumph that heated his blood. His feral brain registered a new acquiescence in the crystalline orbs that had not been there a moment ago.

Bodies heaved and grappled to all sides of them, but Elf and Man stared at each other, untouched and strangely untroubled by the surrounding debacle. They were captives in a far more private storm. The Archer's impulses to overthrow his captor had failed and Legolas panted in silent submission as the Ranger nudged Legolas's thighs apart and dragged his weeping cock over and around the glistening orifice to the Elf's body. Legolas held his breath.

Aragorn growled low in his throat as he pushed into the tight space. Legolas whimpered and bit his lip at the first moment of penetration. He tossed his head as the Ranger pushed in further, relentless now in his pursuit of this conquest. Legolas was his now. He pushed in further, barely giving the Elf a chance to adjust to the girth and length of the organ that filled him.

"Please, Aragorn," gasped the Archer haltingly.

The madness parted like clouds from the Man's eyes at the sound of the Elf's pleading voice. Aragorn raised a hand to stroke the Elf's wet cheek and stilled his movements. After a few deep breaths the Elf's eyes looked up at him, wide and slightly red.

"Please," he whispered again in a thick voice. "Take this off," he said, indicating the red mask. "I want to see you, melethron."

Aragorn swallowed tightly, assailed all at once with desire, terror, love, insecurity, and overwhelming gratitude. He slowly lifted a hand and peeled off the mask. They looked at each other openly.

"Now," said the Archer, quietly as he lifted his hips to the Man. Aragorn dragged his hands across the twin globes of flesh in anticipation and grinned. Taking firm hold of the Prince's hips he rammed his cock into the tight space, enjoying the sounds that came from his lover as he hit the sweet spot inside.

They rocked into each other, the growing frenzy of their love making in perfect harmony with the driving rhythm of the forest around them. Aragorn roared his pleasure into the night as he plunged down into the captive body. The Elf hissed and his phallus, trapped between their bodies exploded and the pearlescent stream smeared between them and slowly dripped down his skin to saturate the earth.

The ground shivered in delight and a hushed satisfaction seeped into the forest.

The sleeping centaurs took little notice of the two figures that untangled themselves quietly and rose to leave. As they stealthily made their way through the quieting arena, Aragorn squeezed the Elf's hand which was held tightly in his own. The beautiful Archer looked at him, a blush rising to his cheeks, and a slightly nervous smile on his lips. Aragorn paused, and held a finger up to his lips, indicating silence.

"Wait a minute," he whispered. The Man ran back to where the heaps of clothes laid forgotten and scooped up some thing to cover themselves with. After a moment's hesitation he also snatched up an egg shaped container, careful to seal the lid and secure the precious buds that lay hidden within it. A faint odor of orange blossoms wafted up to his nose and he smiled with only a shadow of guilt as he rejoined the Elf.

He handed over a cape of sea foam green velvet to the Archer and smiled warmly. "Don't worry, my Sweet Prince. We're free. It's all over now."

Legolas draped himself in the cape to cover his nakedness. Uncertainty colored his silence until Aragorn placed a strong arm around his shoulders and drew him close. A pleasant warmth filled him and Legolas inhaled with a sigh, barely aware of the faint fragrance that refreshed and comforted at the same time. He leaned into the Ranger's embrace, all apprehension suddenly gone and smiled as well. Soon they would be in Edoras and resume their mission. He did not even think it strange when, at the edge of the clearing they paused to take one last look at the sleeping centaurs, and Aragorn leaned into him to claim a kiss.

They departed without a word. The two centaurs rose from their resting place and Anup trotted over to pick up the discarded mask. He held it out to Bes. The gray centaur smiled as he took it.

"The Lady is pleased, Anup." In the sky above them, an eagle soared soundless on the wind, its sharp eyes on the bright red mask in Bes's hands. The centaur looked up at the bird and frowned. "Send word to Arwen of Rivendale. Tell her the Red King has been unmasked."

Anup looked up at the bird. "And the Istari?" he questioned.

Bes shook his head. "No need."

The End.

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