Nardawin finally slowed her pace and came to a complete stop. She waited impatiently for the maiden to get off, so she could return to her master. Yuvinel however, had other plans, and refused to dismount. The mare pawed at the ground, and snorted impatiently.
"I understand that your master has given strict orders to bear me to safety. In spite of that, I will not dismount and wait here. I want to seek him out too!" she spoke with such quiet determination that the mare stopped and listened.
"I care for Legolas at least as much as you do, and I will be able to locate him within the forest, for it is my home!" she pleaded, sensing the horse's hesitation.
After a moment's consideration, Nardawin seemed to finally agree with the maiden, and moved off back in the direction they had come from.
Horse and rider sped through the forest, and it was a good half an hour ere they came back to the battle site.
Silence cloaked the woods. Yuvinel dismounted. Twigs cracking under her feet made loud, snapping noises which filled the air, and the bodies of slain Orcs lay strewn by the dozens. The rancid smell of a battle filled the air.
She ignored the sight as best as she could, although it was all she could do to keep herself from gagging as the execrable smell of already decaying Orc bodies floated up while she continued her search through the corpses.
Nardawin was neighing balefully, while searching among the carcasses. Both horse and maiden had seen the number of attacking Orcs, and knew that it was unlikely that the Elves had managed to destroy them all. Perhaps the Elves had been either captured or killed.
Examining the area, Yuvinel gave a loud gasp as she saw horse tracks. Nardawin moved over upon hearing Yuvinel, and screamed loudly before taking off like the wind, for she had recognised the tracks as that of the other steeds.
Left behind, a strange conviction to walk in the opposite direction took hold of Yuvinel, and she found herself obeying it.
She started running, a sudden wave of panic coming over her. There was a weak throbbing in the air, calling from the west. It was not unlike the tingling sensation that swept over her earlier in the day as she was put into a deep and restful sleep. This time, it seemed so much weaker, so pitiful, struggling to stay alive.
Holding her course, Yuvinel doubled her pace. Her mind was numb and empty, focused on putting one foot in front of the other, fighting to reach Legolas as soon as she could.
Dawn was breaking, and little bursts of rays made their way into the forest. The girl was no longer running in the dark, and the shapes of the vegetation about her grew more distinct.
She burst out into the open, the dazzling sunlight hurting her dilated pupils. As her eyes gradually grew accustomed to the new light, Yuvinel noted that she had emerged on the West end of the forest. The Anduin flowed tranquilly a distance away.
Something caught her eye, and she rushed forward.
A limp body was slumped facedown on the riverbank, caked in blood, long blonde hair in disarray, bearing testimony to the epic battle that had taken place. Without pause for thought, the maiden turned the Silvan prince over gingerly.
The sight that rose up to greet her eyes caused her to let out a small gasp. The face of the Elf was pallid, and so devoid of colour that she leaned forward to check for signs of life. To her relief, she was able to discern a weak and irregular pulse stemming from the Elf. He was still alive.
Legolas's eyes were clenched shut, and his facial muscles were tense. Big, gaping wounds were evident all over his body, and many of his injuries were still weeping. A black, ugly dagger still lodged itself deeply in his right shoulder.
Without thinking, Yuvinel reached forward and yanked the dagger out, throwing it onto the ground, where it disintegrated into powder. To her surprise, the wound did not bleed, and there was an empty ulceration, the edges of which had turned black.
Pushing aside the impulse to cry, Yuvinel took deep breaths to calm herself. She tried, but to no avail, to rouse the Elf. her teeth, she began the slow and tedious process of bringing Legolas back within the safety of the forest.
After both were under the safety of foliage, she tore strips of cloth from her clothes and used them to bind his wounds. Once the immediate danger of the Elf bleeding to death had passed, Yuvinel started scouting about the forest floor for the leaves of the Athalas plant. Her father had taught her about its healing properties. Commonly known as Kingsfoil, it was efficient in working against agents of evil.
When she finally managed to procure the plant, she noted with alarm that the blackness had started to radiate outward from the wound, and a touch of the Elf's forehead revealed it to be scalding hot. Panic rose in her throat as she chewed on the leaves of the plant, causing them to release their healing juices. Without much hesitation, she placed the ground her within the wound.
The effect it had on the Elf was frightening. A huge spasm rocked through his damaged body as the first bruised leaves touched his wound. Yuvinel pressed more of the plant into the wound. Convulsions wrecked the Elf, and his arms thrashed about violently, attempting to tear out the herb from his shoulder. She quickly placed a protective had over the wound, pressing the herbs deeper, causing him to claw futilely at her hand. Ugly red marks appeared on her fair skin, yet she did not yield.
Her other hand stroked the hot forehead tenderly, as she sought to comfort the delirious Elf. Soft, comforting words were spoken. After what seemed like an age, the convulsions eased off as the plant's magic started to employ itself.
She released her hold on his wound, and noted that the fever still raged on. His face was flushed from the efforts of his body to counter-act the toxin. The situation was grim to the woodman's daughter, and she bit her lip hard to keep the tears from falling. Although the toxin appeared to be contained for the moment, it was not being beaten back. The poison had penetrated itself deep within him. It would take more than the powers of the Athalas plant to drive the venom from his body.
A sudden wave of drowsiness swept over Yuvinel. Battling against the exhaustion proved to be futile, and it was not long before she succumbed to the exertions of the previous night, and fell asleep, an arm cast protectively around the torso of her ward.
It was thus that Glorfindel chanced upon the two. Coming to the edge of the forest, all but given up hope on locating his young friend, his heart started beating wildly as he drew closer to the two figures.
A stone dropped from his heart as the realisation dawned that Legolas was still alive. Casting aside his reservations, the Elflord proceeded to rouse the maiden from her nervous slumber.
At the first touch of the other, her eyes flew open, and the black pools mirrored the weariness but determination that Glorfindel himself felt. A sigh of relief passed through her lips as she took in the sight of a friendly face.
"It is indeed a relief to find both of you alive, Lady Yuvinel!" A fleeting smile escaped his features. "I had feared Legolas lost!"
Glorfindel took the opportunity to examine the prince. Seeing the black wound, he let out an involuntary cry.
"Ai! There is the poison of the Orcs present in that wound! Not a moment must be lost! Watch over him!"
Yuvinel, startled his panic, watched on helplessly as Glorfindel sped away.
In the meantime, all she could do was sponge the hot forehead of the Elf.
Then, the events of the past few days began to take its toll. Teardrops the size of pearls rolled off her tired eyes, and splashed onto the Elven prince. Once the dam broke loose, there was no stopping it. She buried her face in her fingers, and sobs racked through her body.
Fear, grief, sorrow, anger. The emotions hit her one by one, unrelenting in barraging her fragile soul. The image of her father, fading in and out, the burnt out house, the horrendous battle, Legolas.
Just as the feelings threatened to completely overwhelm her and push her to the brink, an icy-cold hand enclosed around her wrist.
The maiden started. She lifted her face, to find the hand that held her wrist was fair, but bore wounds. Legolas's face was turned towards her. The concerned blue eyes of the Elven prince were fixed upon her, for he had been roused from the dark abyss of his unconsciousness by her tears.
The fear and loneliness gave way to concern as she took in his unfocused eyes. He tried to rise from his slouched position against the tree, but failed. There had been too much blood lost, and his wounds were too fresh. Instead, he shut his eyes tightly, and bit his lip, fighting not to cry out from the pain.
Brushing aside her despair, Yuvinel spoke soothingly to him in an undertone, seeking to allay his suffering. She resisted the urge to break into fresh tears as she saw again the extent of his injuries.
Legolas opened his eyes, resisting the wave of unconsciousness that threatened to take over, beating away the stars that danced across his eyes. His lips parted, and a slight croak escaped.
"Legolas, please! Do not move about, for it would only worsen your injuries! Do not worry about me."
She saw the gratefulness and acknowledgement within his eyes, and the pride of the Elf which fought with the demons that plagued his body. A jolt of joy ran through her body. He was awake, and he was fighting it.
Her happiness was pushed aside by apprehension as a soft moan escaped his parched lips. Yuvinel rushed down towards the river with a water bag that Glorfindel had left behind.
She refilled the bag quickly, and was back by his side, tenderly relieving his discomfort.
All the while, those intense blue eyes drifted in and out on the border of consciousness as he fought against the giddiness brought about by the loss of blood and the workings of the venom. The Elf's body was still warm to the touch, although his hands were icy-cold, and his lips were starting to blacken. The poison was invading the rest of his body, continuing its relentless death march.
"Esendri?" the word came out in a slur. A strange numbness had come over Legolas's body, and he sensed vaguely that something was wrong. Yet his mind was sluggish, and he struggled to recollect the events that had resulted in his current state.
"I have not seen him, but I am confident that he is not in any danger."
Yuvinel could see that Legolas was fading fast.
Alarmed, she cried out, "Legolas! Please, listen to me. Do not give in! Hold out for just a while longer! Glorfindel will be back soon!"
His eyes regained some focus, only to glaze over again. Frantic with anxiety, the girl clasped his cold hands to her, and started speaking of the Great Halls of Men, stories told to her by her father of the glorious days of Gondor. Of the white towers that rose above its spires and domes, of the Kings that lived within the stone walls of Minas Tirith.
She could sense that her words had an effect on him initially, and that he was making a genuine effort to listen to her tales. After a while, it seemed too much for him, and the Elf started to convulse. His lips were a ghastly black, and the blue eyes had misted over, as the words she spoke were no longer registered.
Her eyes filled with tears, as she grasped his hands more tightly, which were going limp with the passing into a dreadful sleep.
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.