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Land of Light and Shadows: 18. Flitting Shadows
"Gently now, he is coming around."
"Will he remember what happened, do you think?"
Faint at first but steadily growing in clarity, voices from the outside world gradually trickled into Legolas’s semiconscious mind. Comprehension was long in coming, or so it felt, but he eventually began to realize that something had happened to him and that he was now slowly waking up. Experimentally, he tried to open his eyes. The attempt was unsuccessful, but he thought he managed to make his lids flutter. That was progress of sorts. He next attempted to move a hand or an arm, but this proved to be a far more difficult task. His limbs felt leaden and his head throbbed as though it had been hit against something. What had happened?
"You said he was coming around."
"Hush, Gimli, he is. Watch."
"Let us hope there are no lasting or impeding injuries to speak of. If there are, proof or no proof, someone shall soon feel my sword."
Gimli, Aragorn, and Eomer, Legolas identified, his mind beginning to clear somewhat. His senses were starting to right themselves and he now felt the cold sand beneath him as well as the quiet southern breeze that whispered over his still frame. The wind spoke of hidden lakes and burning heat as well as jungles of green far away beyond even the sight of an elf…
Legolas’s mind froze as he suddenly realized what was happening. He was listening to the wind. It was speaking words, and he heard and understood them. And more than that, he now seemed to have an awareness about him that had been lacking earlier. His head was pillowed on someone’s lap and he recognized that someone as Gimli. The callused hand that strayed over his brow was one indication, but there was also a sense of ageless stone and deep earth that could only come from the dwarf. Moving on, Aragorn was kneeling at his right side, for he could sense the latent power of Númenor and the sadness of the Eldar emanating from the man. And finally, feeling of open fields and racing winds, Eomer was standing slightly behind Aragorn. Legolas could sense them. He could sense them all. And there could be only one explanation for this—Ilúvatar’s song had returned to him!
Struggling now to open his eyes so that he could look upon the stars and see them for what they truly were, Legolas began to shift and groan. This seemed to alarm his companions, for he felt Gimli press upon his shoulders while Aragorn captured his wrists and held them fast against his sides. But the elf ignored this, for he was free again. He was free from the shadow and its influence! Physical restraints were as nothing when compared to the liberty of the spirit that Legolas now felt. Flinging his senses wide, he sang back to the wind and listened as the song of the desert, faint thought it might be, slowly found its way into the night.
"Easy, my friend, you are safe! Legolas!"
Gimli’s concerned voice somehow made it through the elf’s elation and he slowed his struggles to rise, realizing that he still had yet to open his eyes and that his movements were unnerving his friends. It was difficult to reign in his excitement and enthusiasm, but somehow or another, the elf managed it. He felt his body go still, and the hands upon his shoulders and wrists relaxed slightly. Tendrils of pain flickered at the elf as he was slowly released, and he wondered just how tightly he’d been restrained. Deciding to adopt a slower pace in order to spare his companions any further alarm, Legolas took a deep breath and tried once more to open his eyes.
This time, the attempt was successful, and bright gray eyes opened to a world that was fresh and crisp, with every detail finely cut and every color a vibrant hue. The stars danced as though rejoicing with Legolas, and he could see their fire blaze forth through the blackness as they sang of hope and peace. Wisps of cloud partially obscured the waning moon, and the elf nearly laughed aloud for joy as he traced their contours, measured their depths, and watched the moon’s light filter through as sunlight might ripple through a wave of water. Even the desert sand, with its countless grains, became alive for Legolas, and he allowed his eyes to sweep over the vast plain, taking in the details that had been so cruelly denied by the dark shadows of ú-glîr.
A shadow moved before him, hiding the wonders of the desert, and Legolas realized with some reluctance that it was time to stop basking in the glow of his restored senses. With a slight shake of his head, and a groan for the headache this produced, he blinked and focused his eyes on the face hovering just above his own.
"Legolas?" Aragorn asked again, worry etched in his brow.
"I am awake, my friend," Legolas said, wincing at the weakness in his voice. He cleared his throat and began to struggle up. Hands braced him from behind, and Legolas reluctantly swallowed his pride, allowing himself to be aided.
"You seem to be making a habit of this," Gimli grunted as he steadied the elf. "Is the unconscious world so much better than this one, or can you simply no longer keep your balance?"
"Legolas, do you remember what happened?" Aragorn asked ere the elf could respond to Gimli.
With a dark glare at the dwarf, Legolas shook off Gimli’s hands and rubbed his head. "I believe I do," he said, collecting fragments of memory. "I was watching Faensul when Dashnir found us and began to speak." The elf stopped and looked around, his eyes searching for the delegate from Khurintu. "Are we alone?"
"Imhran and Arhelm have issued orders that some of the packs on the baggage horses need to be adjusted," Aragorn said. "We have a few moments ere the Haradrim come seeking us."
"You say Dashnir found you?" Eomer pressed, squatting next to Aragorn. "Is this his doing, then?"
"It could be no other," Gimli growled, straightening and laying a hand to the haft of his axe.
"Peace," Aragorn ordered firmly, fixing both Eomer and Gimli with a hard stare. "We have yet to learn all the details of this, and I would hear more of Legolas’s story ere deciding upon a course of action." The king turned his eyes back to Legolas and nodded, prompting the elf to continue.
"As I was saying," Legolas said, "Dashnir found me and we spoke somewhat concerning Faensul." He stopped once more and his sharp eyes searched the area. "Where is Faensul?"
"He would not allow us to examine you, so I sent him back to main group with Shade," Eomer answered. "He was less than happy to go, but Aragorn spoke to him in Sindarin and he eventually left."
"That is well, then," Legolas said. "I would not have him harmed or lost."
"Your concern for that beast is admirable, but you should have more concern for your friends," Gimli growled. "We are waiting for you to finish your story, Master Elf, and you can think only of your horse."
"My apologies, Gimli," Legolas said. "Unfortunately, you are so—"
"Legolas!" Aragorn interrupted sharply ere the verbal warfare could begin. "Legolas, would you kindly tell us what happened?"
Trying to ignore Gimli’s triumphant smirk, the elf sighed and took up the tale again. "Dashnir and I spoke of Faensul, and then he questioned me concerning elven sight." Legolas stopped and glanced at Gimli, hearing a sharp intake of breath from the dwarf’s direction, but Gimli said naught. With a slight shrug, Legolas continued. "I evaded his questions for a time, but then he laid his hand on my shoulder and…and after that I have no memory."
"What was his purpose, do you think?" Aragorn asked, watching Legolas carefully.
"I believe his purpose was to remove ú-glîr," Legolas answered quietly, a slow smile appearing on his face as he watched his friends. "And in this he was successful." Legolas waited expectantly for a reaction, stiffened, and then suddenly turned and glared at Gimli. "Yes, my hearing has returned, and I will thank you not to call me that."
"Merely a test," the dwarf answered, but a broad smile to match the elf’s was spreading across his face.
"Your senses have returned?" Aragorn asked.
"They have, my liege," Legolas sighed, closing his eyes and inhaling deeply as he listened to the surrounding world. "And I find I am more grateful than ever for the gifts that Ilúvatar bestowed upon the Eldar."
"Then there is nothing preventing us from confronting and killing a certain delegate!" Eomer declared, gripping the hilt of his sword. "Legolas’s senses have been returned, and we no longer need Dashnir."
"Eomer, wait!" Aragorn called out even as the king of Rohan began to turn away. "Eomer, Dashnir is not the master of his game but rather one of the pieces being moved by another mind. He is a powerful piece, true, but he is not the strategist."
"And why should that affect my decision to destroy him?" the horse-lord demanded.
"Aside from several political problems that would result from his demise, we would lose our only contact with the head of our adversary," Aragorn reasoned. "At the present time, Dashnir’s actions give us a link to the greater evil that awaits us. It is much like allowing a lesser criminal to escape so that he might be followed to the lair. If we wait for Dashnir to play out his hand, or rather the hand of his master, we may take them all at once. Or at the very least, we might be better prepared for whatever purposes they have planned for us."
"I am not convinced that Dashnir has a master," Gimli growled, stroking the sharp blade of his axe. "He seems perfectly capable of acting on his own."
"And well he should be, for he is second-in-command of the Khurintu tribe. Is not Faramir my second, and is he not also capable of acting on his own? A leader would be ill advised to choose a subcommander incapable of carrying out independent actions. But of this I am certain—Dashnir does not work alone, and there is a greater power that directs him. If this is not so and I am wrong, then Dashnir is a fool and we have naught to fear from him."
"I agree with Aragorn," Legolas said, getting to his feet and swaying slightly. Gimli moved to brace him, but the elf irritably waved him away. "Dashnir cannot be the head of the darkness, or he would not have come with the delegation. Rather, he would have sent another in his place and watched through distant eyes. The head cannot afford to be caught in the teeth of its prey, but the tail is expendable."
"Then if Dashnir is expendable, there is nothing to lose by ridding ourselves of him," Eomer pressed.
"Nor is there anything to gain," Aragorn countered. "Dashnir is a threat, I agree with you on that. But he is a lesser threat, and I wish to watch him further. His actions could tell us something of his ultimate goal. The fact that he freed Legolas from ú-glîr says much, and this must be analyzed along with other factors. Dashnir’s next deed might reveal even more of his plans."
"Or it might spell our destruction," Gimli argued. "He has already acted against one of us, and there was also Eomer’s disappearance two nights ago. He may well have been involved in that. And there is this to consider—why should he release Legolas from ú-glîr? It appears to be a reprieve for us, and in this I grow suspicious. What does he plan to gain from this? Shall we allow him to get any closer to us, or shall we prevent him while we have a chance?"
"Peace, my friend," Legolas soothed, turning his eyes into the desert and sighing as elven sight revealed to him the distant rocks of the Sihal, a few companies of wandering horsemen far beyond mortal sight, and the towering structures of a city that could only be Haradhur. "The danger has passed for now, and we may learn much from it. And as for preventing Dashnir, there are ways to do so without killing the man. As Aragorn has already revealed to us, we may learn the plans of his master should we correctly decipher his actions and the reasons for them."
"Perhaps," Gimli allowed grudgingly, "but I do not trust him."
"Nor do I," Eomer added, his eyes glinting in the darkness.
"Who among us does?" Aragorn asked. "But this is not a matter of trust. Rather, it is a matter of motivation and goals. We have yet to learn of the plans that have been set, and should we destroy our only link to those plans, we give ourselves a severe disadvantage. And as for your concerns Gimli, I agree. Dashnir did not lift the shadow from Legolas on a whim. Something darker is planned, but should we destroy him now, we will never learn what."
The four of them turned and Legolas’s quick eyes made out Imhran riding toward them. He smiled with quiet satisfaction while he waited for the man to draw within range of the others. "The call is for you, Aragorn," he said.
Aragorn laughed softly and clapped Legolas on the shoulder. "It is good to you have you whole again, my friend. Who is it?"
"Imhran," Eomer answered for the elf as the rider drew close enough to be recognized.
"The rest of the company has begun riding toward us," Legolas added. "I suspect he came in advance to warn us of their approach."
"I would also suspect as much," Aragorn said. "Then we are all agreed? We watch Dashnir, but we take no actions to relieve him of his head." This last was said with a hard look at Gimli.
The dwarf sighed and nodded reluctantly. "If that is the way you have decreed it, then that is the way it shall be. But I will also be watching you, Legolas." Gimli gave his friend a stern glower. "Trouble follows you as it follows a hobbit, and if you would survive this journey, then you must stay close to me."
Legolas snorted and was searching for a suitable reply to that, but Imhran’s arrival prevented it. "My liege, the company approaches," Imhran reported, pulling his horse to a stop.
"My thanks," Aragorn said with a nod. "We are prepared, and it is time to finish the journey to Haradhur."
"And Valar willing, we will live to tell of this journey," Eomer murmured. His voice was too low for the others to hear, but Legolas heard and he shivered. A sense of foreboding suddenly came upon him, and he studied Haradhur in the far distant. It seemed as though a dark haze fell over the city, a dark haze that was far too like the inky blackness of the elf’s recent nightmares.
"Legolas?" Gimli wondered quietly, his hand moving to the elf’s arm should Legolas need to be braced. "My friend, are you well?"
"Yes," the elf whispered, blinking his eyes and shaking his head. The haze abruptly vanished and all was as it should be. He took a deep breath and steadied himself before glancing at the dwarf and mustering a smile of sorts. And why should he not smile? For he was complete once more. His senses had been returned! "I am fine," Legolas assured Gimli, feeling his spirits begin to rise. "Let us depart. We have lingered here far too long."
* * * *
"Honored one, we can go no further this night. Should we venture into the desert, the sun would catch us ere we could find water, and we would be hard-pressed to recover from such a trial quickly enough to journey tomorrow evening."
Imrahil sighed and gazed across the sand that stretched along the dark horizon. The sun was not more than an hour or so away from rising, and though the prince of Dol Amroth did not know the desert as well as did Aragorn, he had ventured into it often enough to know that tempting its wrath was something only for the foolish. Giving in to the inevitable and squelching the protests of his heart, he checked his horse and brought it to a halt. "You are right, Mohart, though my heart bids me press onward. There is something dark in this land that no light of the sun can banish. I fear for Gondor and Rohan."
"And I fear for the tribes of the desert, but we can do no more than what we are doing," Mohart said, lowering the desert scarves from his face and gazing at the sand with the longing of one who desires to return home. They were now a mile south of Anduin, having used the crossings at Pelargir with no mishap. As Imrahil had planned, ten men had been sent north to warn Faramir and Arwen in Minas Tirith and thirty men now waited behind him, the remainder having been left at Pelargir should trouble come out of the desert and seek to cross Anduin. They would act as scouts, runners, and soldiers according to the need. Imrahil could only hope it would be enough, and that he himself might not be too late.
"We stop here," the prince announced, turning to his men who had stopped behind their lord. "Dismount and make preparations for camp."
Murmurs of acknowledgement swept through the company and then horses were turned as riding formation was broken. Confident that his orders would be followed and that his supervision would be unnecessary, Imrahil turned his eyes back to the desert. Every time he looked upon the endless stretch of sand, it never failed to leave him with a sense of awe. There was no sign of life for as far as his keen eyes could penetrate, and he wondered how men had ever come to choose Harad’s burning sand as a place to settle. The elven blood within him clamored for life and the sea, but here was a place with neither. He felt a pang of sympathy for Legolas and wondered how the elf fared.
"If we maintain our pace, we shall reach Lake Supt tomorrow night in good time, possibly several hours before sunrise, but we will not be able to press further," Mohart said. "We must keep to the trails and the time of the desert, else we shall not live to reach Haradhur."
"What are Dashnir’s options once King Elessar and King Eomer arrive at the Gathering?" Imrahil asked. "If naught befell them, they would have reached the city yesterday morning."
"If the Khurintu tribe seeks to move for power, whatever they do must needs be unexpected, that much is certain." Mohart fell silent for a moment, considering the possibilities. "In truth, I know not what they have planned," he eventually said. "I doubt I could even begin to fathom the minds of Asbad and Dashnir. However they plan their attack, though, Gondor and Rohan shall bear the worst of it. Your kingdoms in the north are hated and feared in Harad, but they are also respected for their power and might. If Khurintu can rise above Gondor and Rohan both in such a way that its victory would be unchallenged and unquestioned, Khurintu could easily take control of the desert. After that, it is only a matter of time before Harad becomes a power that might rival the lost strength of Mordor."
"And with the blood of Númenor to back Asbad and Dashnir, they shall be a formidable force indeed," Imrahil sighed.
"It may be, honored one, that perhaps the storm has already broken, and we will arrive only in time to witness the fall of Gondor," Mohart warned, his dark eyes glancing toward the prince.
"Perhaps, but I think not," Imrahil answered. "My heart feels that the time is not yet past for action, and we may yet arrive ere naught can be done, though I would we could travel with greater speed. Still, some things are beyond my control, and I will not contest the restraints placed upon me. It is enough that I may ride after my king."
"Your king is fortunate to command such loyalty from you, honored one," Mohart remarked.
"I am fortunate to be able to give him that loyalty," Imrahil answered. "And I pray that such loyalty will lead me to his side when darkness presses close." The prince fell silent for a moment, his eyes searching the desert. "Tomorrow night we travel to Lake Supt, correct?"
"Correct," Mohart said. "Then Lake Miyarr and finally Lake Nurnein. After that, we ride to Haradhur itself, where the Gathering will begin tonight at sunset."
"Four days," Imrahil murmured. "It is four days too long, and I grudge even the necessary time spent here. Still, there is nothing to be done about it. Come, Mohart. Let us aid the others in preparations so that we may retire early before the heat drives thoughts of sleep from our minds."
* * * *
Peering around Legolas’s slender frame, Gimli could not hold back a low whistle of appreciation. Nor was he the only member of the company to be awestruck by the sight before them. Murmurs arose from Gondorrim and Rohirrim alike, and Eomer checked Shade’s pace so that he might gaze further upon the towering walls that rose like teeth from the desert. Made from clay baked in the desert’s heat and reinforced with wooden beams for additional support, the walls of Haradhur stood tall as a warning to any who might attack one of the few permanent settlements in Harad. Upon the ramparts, soldiers marched, armed with crossbow and spear. Gates of iron lay open as if in invitation to passing travelers, but the guards who waited beside these gates were heavily armed and shielded.
"Behold Haradhur," Fastahn said, slowing his horse so that he rode beside Faensul. "There are few permanent structures in Harad, but what few we have are impressive even to northern eyes."
"Who controls this place?" Legolas asked, and Gimli felt a tremor of relief as he watched the elf scour the building with elven sight. It was very reassuring to the dwarf that Legolas had regained the use of his senses, for if any hidden archers tracked their movements, Legolas would know it.
"None have ever truly controlled it," Fastahn said. "It is a stopping place for many caravans, and there is a large underground well that supplies adequate water to meet our needs. For a time, the Gartabo tribe held power here, but it was contested by both Khurintu and Warra. It now lies as simply a place of rest for travelers or as a meeting place for special councils. The Gathering is an example of one of these. For occasions such as this, Haradhur serves as neutral ground, or as neutral as anything can be in this land."
"And in some years, Haradhur is more neutral than other years," a low voice to the side remarked. Gimli glanced over and his eyes narrowed slightly at the sight of Arabano from the Lotessa tribe. The dwarf trusted none of the Haradrim, but there were some he trusted more than he trusted others. Fastahn seemed harmless enough to the cause of Gondor, though he was clearly capable of shrewd political moves should the need arise. Arabano, on the other hand, reminded Gimli very much of Dashnir. It was hard to say, actually, because the man had been so quiet during the journey, content to make discreet observations from a distance. But of late, he had occasionally volunteered his own words in a conversation, and Gimli was suspicious as to his motives.
"What mean you by this, Arabano?" Legolas asked, flicking a sharp glance at the man.
"A Gathering can become many things regardless of its initial purposes, honored one," Arabano answered. "Sometimes it becomes a meeting for settling matters of trade. Sometimes it becomes a meeting for settling matters of internal disputes and control over water resources. And sometimes, it becomes a meeting for displaying power and ability. At these times, Haradhur has little to offer in the way of neutrality and is instead a breeding ground for dissension and war. One is forced to choose allies during such times, and such decisions must be made in haste with very little information for both sides." Arabano studied elf and dwarf for a minute with depthless eyes that glittered in the dark night. "I believe you know of what I speak."
"Indeed we do," Legolas said, his voice soft but tempered with steel. "And I thank you for your words. Perhaps we may speak further upon this."
"At your leisure, honored ones." And with that, Arabano nodded and drew his horse away, preventing further conversation.
Gimli blinked, feeling that he had just missed something. Fastahn had spurred his horse forward to speak with Aragorn, and for the moment, he and Legolas were more or less free to speak privately without fear of listening ears. "What did he say to you?" the dwarf asked the elf after swallowing a good deal of pride.
"A warning and the tentative offer of an uneasy alliance, if I interpret his words correctly," Legolas murmured quietly. "I am not as familiar with the games of words in the desert, and we should confer with Aragorn. However, I believe I have learned enough through listening to Dashnir and Fastahn to hazard a guess at this."
"I heard no warning, and I certainly heard no discussion of a possible alliance," Gimli argued.
"It was not a possible alliance, but rather an offer that held no real political backing. He has not the authority, I think, to speak for the Lotessa tribe in this. Not complete authority, in any case. But the warning was there as was the offer to pursue an alliance should we desire it. You did not hear it because you are a dwarf."
Gimli frowned. "I did not hear it because I am a dwarf?" he echoed, his voice challenging the elf to back that statement with some kind of logical reasoning.
"Dwarves and elves are different, my friend. Above all else, the two of us should know that. Your version of diplomacy involves the axe, while elven diplomacy takes the form of words. Having served in my father’s kingdom, I am familiar with the games and intrigue associated with court. One must sift words spoken by delegates, for rarely do they say what they truly mean."
"The world would be much simpler if it were administered by dwarves," Gimli growled, deciding that between men and elves there were more than enough empty words and discussions to go around.
"If the world were administered by dwarves, I fear there would be none here to enjoy it. The very foundations of Arda would have given way because of the endless tunneling."
"We are not moles," Gimli protested indignantly.
"You have fooled many, then."
The dwarf sighed and shook his head. He should have been prepared to banter words with the elf, but a strange feeling of unease was troubling him. It was enough of a distraction that Gimli could not quite keep up with Legolas, who was clearly enjoying the return of his senses and had been in high spirits since his recovery. And while Gimli rejoiced with his friend, he couldn’t help but wonder at Dashnir’s motives. Aragorn also seemed suspicious, but Legolas was apparently too relieved to consider such things.
The dwarf blinked and glanced up to find Legolas watching him curiously over his shoulder. "My apologies. Were you speaking?"
"Nay, but neither were you. It is unlike you to leave a claim such as I put forth uncontested. Are you ill?"
"Nay," Gimli murmured, turning his eyes to Haradhur. The horses were being pulled to a stop and Dashnir was speaking quietly with the guards at the gate. "Nay, perhaps I am merely wary."
"Wary?" Legolas raised his brow. "I sense nothing."
"That is part of what worries me," Gimli said, "for I do sense something. It may be nothing more than general ill will, but it has been growing as we have approached this place and I fear what that might mean."
Gimli and Legolas looked up together as Dashnir rode back to address their group. The dwarf tightened one hand around the haft of his axe while his other hand braced itself on Faensul’s back, prepared to leap from the horse should the need arise to battle. Sensing the sudden tensing of his companion, Legolas sent Gimli a stern warning look, but the dwarf pointedly ignored him, keeping his eyes upon Dashnir and watching the man’s moves as a cat would watch potential prey.
"Honored ones, I have spoken with the gate guards and a place has been reserved for the forces of Gondor and Rohan within Haradhur itself," Dashnir said. "All other tribes have arrived, but since you were forced to travel further than others, a site was specifically set apart for you. You are to be stationed within the city near the south gate. Does this suit you, honored ones?"
Gimli flicked his eyes toward Aragorn and watched as surprise flitted across the king’s face. "Indeed, this honor is greatly appreciated," Aragorn said with a nod. "And I thank you for your services Dashnir. All of you have the gratitude of Gondor and Rohan in providing us escort through the desert."
"You are as knowledgeable as many and such escort was probably unnecessary," Fastahn said with a laugh. "Shall we accompany you to your camp?"
"I think I know the site of which you speak," Aragorn answered. "Your services are no longer required, though I hope that we might meet again sometime during the Gathering."
"Though some of you will meet my axe ere you meet me," Gimli muttered. Legolas sent him yet another look of warning and this time the dwarf grunted in acknowledgement of the message. He would take no rash actions now, but something was brewing in this supposedly neutral ground and there would be snow upon Mount Doom ere Gimli, son of Glóin, was taken unawares.
Aragorn was now giving the orders to move forward, and Legolas spoke softly to Faensul, directing him to follow the group. "I thank you for your concern," the elf said quietly, glancing back at the dwarf. "But I wonder if you are not jumping at shadows. I sense no darkness here other than what men carry in their hearts, and of that I sense no more than is customary."
"Are you directing your senses beyond the city or do you concentrate only on that which is within Haradhur’s walls?" Gimli asked as they passed beyond the iron gates and began winding through streets lined with merchants seeking to sell their wares. As the forces of Gondor and Rohan passed, a hush feel upon the people and there were more than a few whispered words and pointing fingers.
"I have concentrated primarily on Haradhur itself," Legolas answered. "For that is where we are to stay, and it is while we slumber that the danger will be greatest."
"Dashnir did not follow us into the city," Gimli said. "I believe the Khurintu tribe is camped beyond the walls."
"As are many tribes," Legolas pointed out. "And outside the city, they can do little to harm us. We are protected by these walls, and as you can see from the streets, there are more than enough areas in which we might take shelter should the need arise. I think you overestimate the danger, Gimli."
"And I think you grow overconfident with the return of your senses," Gimli said. "But let us speak of other things," he continued ere the elf could protest. "We will reach no conclusions here and dawn approaches. Our concentration will be needed elsewhere."
"I do not seek to challenge your senses," Legolas said after a moment of silence. "And I will heed your warnings, but I feel as though the danger is not yet come. And beyond that, we are together. Who in the desert would think to come against an elf and a dwarf when both are prepared?"
"I pray that you are right, Legolas, and that I am wrong," Gimli sighed. "For to my mind, the darkness is deeper now than it has ever been."
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