"Legolas! Ai, Legolas! Are you wounded?"
Legolas did not answer. He remained kneeling, his head down, his silver helm lying beside his feet and his black hair spilling over his face.
Gimli looked for help, but there was none to be had. Those men who could had fled to the caves or up the broad stairway to the Hornburg. The dwarf bent and forced one of the elf's arms around his neck and lifted him. His mind was a tangle of despair and confusion, but he knew this place was not safe. Arrows skittered over the wall and clattered upon the rock, and Gimli cast fearful eyes towards the skies, waiting for another blast of wizard sorcery, or worse. He clumsily helped the elf down from the heights. Legolas was struggling to walk but could not, and Gimli was all but carrying his much taller companion through the now abandoned ground behind the Deeping Wall. The elf had not spoken; his breathing was ragged and harsh in Gimli's ear against the silence of the aftermath of the battle.
No good, Gimli thought. They could not make it as far as the caves or gain the stairs. It was too far, and there was no help to be found. Only the dead or dying were there now. He looked desperately about the Deep for refuge.
His eyes lit upon a series of abandoned guard houses on the far side of the battlements. Most were still intact, and they were away from the culvert, shadowed in a corner of the west wall and a small blocked stairwell. Gimli tightened his grip upon Legolas and led him toward the buildings, hoping against hope that no more enemies lurked nearby, praying they could reach them without having to fight.
It was slow going, but nothing hindered their flight. The battle seemed to have moved away from the culvert and to the Gate where the wall had been breached. Explosions sounded from far off, but nothing stirred amongst the wreckage littered about them. Gimli reached the guard house that was furthest in and the less exposed and helped Legolas inside.
He swept the door shut behind them. The small house was confined and dim, but there was a low pallet on the floor and a store of water. A thick layer of dust lay over everything from the blasts and chaos that had surrounded it, but it would serve.
Gimli supported his comrade-in-arms who hung weakly about his neck, on the verge of collapse. The elf's bow clattered to the floor, and the dwarf gently eased Legolas onto the pallet. There was little light in the room, but there was enough from the cracks in the door and a small window near the roof that he could see the elf's face in the new moonlight, ashen pale.
Gimli barred the door with a few pieces of wood and a sturdy looking storage chest, then propped his axe in a corner nearby should he need it in a hurry. He fetched water in a cup from the keg upon a small table and carried it to the stricken elf.
He trickled some into his mouth. Legolas stirred and choked but managed to swallow a little. His breathing was rapid and laboured. A spasm of pain tore through him and wrenched a groan from deep within him that disturbed the dwarf. There was no mark upon his friend, no physical wound that he could find, yet the elf was clearly in agony. At a loss, Gimli cast aside the cup and sat worriedly next to him, placing a weathered hand comfortingly upon his arm.
Legolas moaned, then his eyes flickered open and his body tensed. He focused upon the dwarf's face hovering next to him and relaxed a little.
"Gimli..." he rasped. "Are you hurt?" His strange, elegant eyes were shadowy and vague, and he looked with confusion about him, trying to comprehend where he was.
Gimli grimly shook his head. "Nay, I am uninjured, Legolas. We are safe here for the moment I think. You took a bolt of that hell-fire born of Orthanc, my friend. I thought I had lost you," he said quietly. He cleared his throat. "A fine mess we are in! I only hope this place proves to be secure. Lucky for you that you had a stout son of Durin there to pull you from danger!"
Legolas smiled lightly and closed his eyes. "Luckily for you... I was struck down," he murmured. "Two more... and I would have soundly beat your score, Master Dwarf." He placed an unsteady hand upon his breast and sighed. "What of Aragorn?"
"He managed to retreat, I believe. They will marshal their strength within the Citadel and move at dawn, if the orcs do not manage to break through the inner defenses."
The elf nodded and made to reply, but another wave of pain tore through him and he convulsed, his head lifting from the pallet. He choked back a cry and grasped Gimli's arm desperately, clinging to the dwarf as the spasm shook him, seeking solace from his companion's presence.
After an interminable moment he limply sank down, his body trembling violently. Gimli's heart surged with compassion and he let the elf rest against him, lending him what strength he could, unable to think of anything to help but to hold him. He felt wretchedly helpless. "Legolas," he said gruffly, his voice thick with emotion, "what it is that ails you? Where are you hurt?"
Legolas gave a shuddering sigh and quieted, cradled in Gimli's arms. "I am sorry, Gimli...." he breathed finally. "The pain is... so strong. I did not mean to be a burden...." He pulled away from the dwarf and sank back to the pallet. Gimli hesitated, then reached out and gently brushed away the unsettling tears of exhaustion that trickled from the elf's eyes. Legolas looked up wearily and met his gaze. "It feels... like searing ice slicing into me, numbing me, Gimli... it takes my breath from me and pierces me through. A trifle of Saruman's black corruption, I should guess." The elf swallowed and smiled wryly. "Do not meddle in the affairs of wizards, we've been told..." The elf broke off the jest with a gasp.
"I know not what to do, Legolas!" Gimli tugged at his beard in frustration. "Foul sorcery, and wizard tricks! A sword thrust, broken bones... such injuries I understand, but I cannot ease you when I know not what has been done to you." He took up the elf's hands in his rough ones and bent his head before him, anger welling up within him and mingling with the fear. "Cursed coward! Holed up in that tower, too afraid to come down and fight! I swear, I will...." He choked with fury on the words.
The hurt had become too much for the elf and Legolas had slipped away into blessed unconsciousness, his breathing shallow. Gimli looked at him and shook with suppressed emotion. His heart burned with rage at seeing his companion laid low, this fair child of the forest struck down by the foul hand of a sneaking traitor casting spells from afar. He wasn't going to die. Gimli would not allow it. Not in the middle of this foul, filthy battle, here in this dark fortress the elf hated, not after all they had gone through. It wasn't right. He clenched his teeth and swallowed the urge to march out and bury his axe up to the hilt in Saruman's miserable flesh.
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.