Shadow: 31. XXXI

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31. XXXI

Glorfindel made his way back, having seen off the band of Orcs with relative ease. As hoped, they had been drawn to him like bees to honey, and he had led them on a chase away from his friends. The mare had gradually outrun them, did a turn back at a considerably higher altitude, using the mountain's many crevices to hide him.

He noted with relief that there seemed to be no sign of the goblins. He leapt off the horse, stroking her mane, and noted anxiously that Legolas and Esendri were nowhere to be seen.

He came to the alcove where Esendri had left Legolas and breathed a sign of relief when he saw that the prince still slumbered in his enchanted sleep, well-concealed by the cloaks piled upon him. Rushing forward, he noted the iciness that still clung on.

"Esendri?" The Eldar called softly, but there was no response.

Checking again to make sure that Legolas was in no imminent danger, he started scouting about the area. It was not long before his sharp eyes noted the blade of a dagger glinting in the moonlight. Crying out loud, he rushed forward, and recognised it as the one he had given Esendri. A quick scan about the area revealed a single set of tracks heading away, dragging something heavy.

Esendri had been captured. The blonde Elf felt his heart go cold. Deliberating on the subject, he made a decision to see to Legolas first.

Returning to the cave, he wrapped the unconscious Elf in another cloak. He was torn in two: one part of him wanted to rescue Esendri, the other part knew he had to stay with Legolas.

Legolas stirred, and Glorfindel knelt by him, pressing a water-skin to his lips, coaxing him to down the refreshing liquid. His heart dropped further as he noticed the vacant stare of the other. Legolas's sight had not returned.

"Esendri?"

"Nay, it is I, Legolas. Drink this; you need it."

"I feel much better, Glorfindel," the young one said, pushing away the water-skin.

Glorfindel sighed and gave in. He was too troubled to coddle him.

He watched distractedly as Legolas glanced around the cavern, confusion in the otherwise blank eyes. A calm, expressionless mask was set on his face, and did not betray the turmoil he surely was feeling at having lost his most important sense.

Legolas seemed to be listening hard, and he frowned before turning to face the Elflord.

"Where are we, for the wind is not half as strong as it was. Also, pray, tell me where Esendri has gone?"

"Orcs attacked us and Esendri hid you here before he was captured. He has not been hurt, for surely they would have killed him if that were their intent," said Glorfindel, seeing no point in keeping the truth from Legolas. His sight might have been gone, but it was clear that his mind was still as sharp as ever.

To his surprise, Legolas did not leap up from the ground. instead, he turned an ashen grey.

"Lord Glorfindel, I plead with you to leave me and hasten in your search of Esendri."

"You know I cannot leave you, Legolas!"

"I will only hinder your search!" Legolas stood up, shaking with the effort and emotion.

"All I see is two friends, one right before me, whom I cannot abandon, and other, lost. Both need my help, but there may be yet a chance that Esendri has escaped from the clutches of his captors!"

Legolas frowned intently, contemplating the situation.

"Orcs are slow, Legolas, it will not be long ere we catch up with them. We have the advantage of moving in both daylight and at night!"

Legolas nodded, still not convinced. His hands caressed the long knife that he was grasping firmly.

Glorfindel heaved a sigh of relief. The Orcs might return, and Legolas was defenceless.

"So be it!" Legolas said, face unreadable, "I assume we are to set off immediately. Do any tracks lead from the area?"

"Before we leave, Legolas, I must ask that you swear by the Valar to heed my words. I shall not risk both your lives by your stubbornness

A flush rose in the other's cheeks in being thus addressed. Legolas was disgusted with himself, for slowing the party down, resulting in Esendri being taken captive If not for him, the party would have already crossed the high-Pass.

Sensing the other's impatience, he nodded resolutely, anxious to be on the move.

"The tracks lead down the side of the slopes. They were headed north. Bear it mind, too, that I am no tracker. The mysteries of the ground are all too often lost to me.

"Ready yourself for our forward journey, and do not move ere I return," Glorfindel commanded, before slipping off.

Legolas could only sit helplessly, and pull his cloak tightly around him, fighting to keep his panic down.

Barely five minutes passed before the Eldar returned.

"The weather grows ever more ominous. I fear a storm will hit us before daybreak. There are no traces of Nardawin and the other steeds. There is something strange at work here; something that sets its will against us!"

"And the tracks?"

"They lead north. Hugging the slopes of the mountain, they vanish into the horizon. We must not tarry!"

Legolas sprang to his feet, surprised at having regained some of his dexterity. Perhaps, his condition was not as bad as it seemed. The endless darkness was starting to eat at him, and he was glad of having something to focus on at the moment. Already, he could feel his hearing becoming more sensitive, in a marked attempt to compensate for the loss of his sight.

The Eldar touched his arm and motioned in the direction in which they were to take. Glorfindel noted the ungainliness of his poise, but was still very much amazed by his ability to adapt so quickly. Still, he followed Legolas closely, keeping a careful lookout for any dangers or obstacles that might hinder him.

***

Four hours passed before the Elves were forced to stop. The wind and rain were coming down with a vengeance, and even Legolas could not help but admit to himself that he was in no state to continue. Already, he was shivering violently from the cold.

Collapsing to the floor, the soaked young Elf's chest heaved heavily, and his limbs felt like lead.

"Even the Misty Mountains work against us! I fear the tracks will be lost in the heavy downpour!" Legolas was unable to keep the dismay out of his voice. "Mind me not, Glorfindel, and press on, for this rain surely does not dampen your spirits!"

"I will have none of this talk, neth ernil! Have I not made myself clear? I will not abandon you! All talk of this must cease! The storm will pass, and dawn is breaking."

"Nae, Glorfindel, that it should come to this! Shrinking from the rain!" exclaimed the young one, slapping the ground in frustration. His head was tilted to one side, ears straining to pick up any sound apart from the roaring of the rain and wind.

Glorfindel wrapped his own cloak around the prince. Legolas turned to the other, and. The wind was not giving up, and instead, seemed to whip itself up in a greater frenzy.

"Do not blame yourself, Legolas. You should not be ashamed; your resilience has been admirable."

Legolas was silent, instead concentrating on regaining as much strength as was possible, attempting to clear his mind of all thoughts, letting his body fight against the toxin.

Glorfindel could not help but find himself marvelling. How Legolas managed to keep himself calm under the circumstances was quite beyond him. Even an Elf with experiences of his own would have found it difficult. Still, he felt sure that his friend had many more surprises waiting for him, and concentrated instead on studying the pattern of the storm.

He jumped up violently as a sudden realisation dawned on him.

"We have been fools, Legolas! The storm clears not a few miles to the West!"

The fair head of the Elven prince jerked up as he heard the exclamation, excitement and hope on the pallid countenance.

"Then tarry not, Glorfindel. I am ready to leave." Legolas stood shakily, and placed a quaking hand on the Elflord's shoulder. "Only, the storm has made it impossible for me to sense any direction."

The Eldar did not answer, and instead squeezed the other's hand reassuringly, before starting off at a measured pace.

On the two Elves crawled, slowly working up their pace as Legolas grew more confident with every step. He slipped less on the slippery, rocky terrain with every metre they progressed. The better part of two hours passed in this manner, before they burst without warning out into a different world. The sun beat down with an intensity, but the air was distinctly heavy with moisture of the storm that plagued the lower altitudes of the mountains's flanks.

"Dry yourself and rest, Legolas. Who knows how long we will be within the centre of the storm!" Glorfindel said to Legolas, who was standing motionless, soaking in the sunlight, attempting to derive as much warmth as he could from the brilliant rays of the young sun.

"We should make use of this easing of the storm to press on, Glorfindel, for surely we have a better chance of overtaking the Orcs! I shall take my rest when Esendri has been rescued!"

Glorfindel thrust a flask of water in the direction of his friend as an answer.

"We set off, after you have taken a drink, for your throat must surely be parched, in spite of all the water pouring down on us!" he said wryly.

Legolas managed a small smile, and gratefully did as he was told, letting the water moisten his dry throat. The shivers were abating, he noticed with gratification, as the sun started to dry his wet body, and although the air was chilly due to their high elevation, it was a big improvement from stumbling about in the storm.

"Thank you, Glorfindel. Which direction should we take?"

The Elflord hesitated before replying, "The last sign we had was of them headed north. It is the course we should take if we are to have any hopes of locating them. Give me your word that you lie low and do not partake in the rescue itself, for in your condition, you will be more of a hindrance than a help!"

A curt nod of the head showed Legolas's unhappiness, but the Silvan Elf started off in a Northerly direction, picking out his way by the direction of the sun. Glorfindel hurried and fell soundlessly into step beside Legolas, noting that he was still shivering with the number of cloaks he had on.

Something caught the eye of the Eldar, and he rushed forward to examine it more closely. Legolas waited impatiently as he heard the other gather speed, knowing that he had spotted something.

"Ai, Legolas, the tracks are headed West towards the High Pass! They lead right out of the storm."

"Is there any sign of a captive, Glorfindel?" the young Elf said, hurrying to join the other, and pressed a palm against the ground, trying to wean more information.

Glorfindel's sharp eyes picked something out in the distance ahead. "The horses have been captured as well! Nardawin and Galdrier are with the foul creatures!"

"It matters not, Glorfindel! On we press, until their cursed heads are removed from the necks of the foul creatures! We cannot be far!" cried Legolas, before he started moving up the incline of the slopes, pushing forward as fast as his injured body allowed.

The Elflord could not contain a brief smile of amusement at his impatience. Legolas could be six feet under, and nothing would change his temperament.

"Indeed, Legolas, the situation looks promising, and we will be reunited with Esendri before sundown!"

He was greeted with silence, for Legolas was concentrating hard on moving as speedily as he could, picking his way laboriously through the rocky and grassy terrain, which was slowly giving way to the rocky landscape of the mountains.

It was a good three hours that they journeyed. The temperature of the surroundings plunged steeply, and the first signs of snow started appearing on hard ground.

Examining the ground around them, Glorfindel gave a satisfied nod as he saw tracks headed in the direction of the High Pass.

"The trail leads towards the Pass. It is curious that we have not yet caught up with them! It is strange too, that they seem not to have rested and hidden from the sun!"

distracted, Legolas stumbled and lost his footing, falling hard to the ground, where he remained, shivering furiously.

Glorfindel rushed up, face full of concern. He knelt down beside the quivering figure of his friend, offering a helping hand, only to be pushed away angrily.

"Ai, that I should be reduced to this by some Orc poison!" cried Legolas, "We should press forward, Glorfindel, once I catch my breath!"

"Nay, Legolas, do not blame yourself for this sorry state of affairs. From the tracks, we can be certain they had the two horses with them, and it seems as if they were making a huge hindrance of themselves, for they would surely never be taken willingly. That would impede their journey hugely, and we have a good chance of catching up. We have been journeying for close to ten hours, and you must rest!"

"Ten hours, and still no sign of our quarry," lamented the Sindarin prince. "Even so, I know not how much longer I can sustain this pace."

The admission came as no surprise to the Eldar, as he watched the other moving slowly into a sitting position, pulling his arms around the lean, trembling legs. The fair face of the young one was an impartial mask, the blue eyes empty and staring into emptiness, but his chest was heaving heavily, trying to recover from the arduous trek.

Minutes passed this way, Glorfindel ever watchful, letting the young one take his time to recover.

"Glorfindel, lead me to the tracks."

Not knowing what was on the other's mind, the Elflord acquiesced.

Kneeling down in the sparse snow, his palms lightly brushing the tracks, Legolas was silent for a few moments, before eventually looking up at the older Elf.

"These do not bear the mark of Orcs, Glorfindel! Look, the ground does not groan in hatred under their passing!"

Glorfindel breathed in sharply, chiding himself for not realising it earlier.

"Humans it is, then. 'Tis strange indeed!"

There was no answer, as Legolas continued to brush at the ground absently, his mind elsewhere.

It was Legolas who noticed the sound first, his head jerking up tersely, ears on the alert. A broad smile soon lent itself to his face.

"Ai! The tide has turned with us, for no sound could be more welcome than hooves of a newly-freed horse!" cried the Silvan Elf, leaping up.

The black mare burst into view a few minutes later, shrieking with delight. She headed straight for Legolas, and was embraced warmly. The other steed was not close behind. An examination by their masters reviewed them to be none the worse for their ordeal, and it was instead Nardawin who seemed more concerned for her master, nosing him worriedly.

Legolas laughed, and soft, quiet words escaped from his delicate lips, lyrical to the ears, as he sought to reassure his steed.

"Legolas, the men indeed bear a captive, and are a few good miles ahead of us. We must go after them on the steeds, but our progress will not be fast, as the rock and snow will do much to hinder us."

The Silvan Elf nodded, having already gleaned the same information from his own horse. The sic feeling in his stomach was starting to return as he thought how Esendri was still being held captive, and that his injury was preventing them from getting to him faster.

The questions remained, as both Elves swung themselves atop their horses, and sped quickly up the slopes.


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.

Story Information

Author: fael bain

Status: General

Completion: Complete

Era: 3rd Age - The Kings

Genre: Action

Rating: General

Last Updated: 08/10/05

Original Post: 09/21/03

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