Snow started to fall as the three companions rode through the night, gently and lightly at first, before gradually working itself up into a storm. The Elflord and girl could not help but throw worried glances at Legolas every few moments. He was not taking to the weather well.
They journeyed through the darkness, Glorfindel relying on his innate sense of direction to lead them along the way. It was fortuitous that the Eldar knew the Pass well, for anyone less experienced would have gotten lost.
The horses were hard-pressed to go any further, for their legs sank deep into the snow, which had deepened up to their shoulders. The wind whipped around their ears, but Glorfindel made the decision to press on, for he knew there would not be a chance of them finding any shelter on the hostile slopes. A quick check revealed that Legolas was still holding up, but for how long, Glorfindel could not tell. He could see that the prince's hands had turned blue from the cold. Yuvinel too was not faring well.
On they laboured, soon losing track of time. Glorfindel dismounted and walked between the two steeds, keeping a close eye on both of his charges, neither who would last very much longer.
As if on cue, the ground started to slope downwards. The surroundings grew lighter. The first rays of sun started to peek through the flurry of white that enveloped them. Glorfindel also noted with satisfaction that the wind was starting to let up, and thanked the Valar, for even the horses were close to dropping dead with exhaustion, and were shivering with cold and fatigue.
Another hour passed before it stopped snowing, giving way to a grey and cheerless sky. Seeing that Legolas had passed out on Nardawin, Glorfindel called the party to a halt, before hurriedly tending to the prince. Even his lips had turned blue from the cold, and his chest was barely moving. Yuvinel got off the horse unsteadily, looking no better. She watched anxiously as Glorfindel drew out a flask of liquid and fed a few drops to Legolas. He then passed it to her. The liquid burned its way down her throat, but had the desired effect, and she found herself able to move her frozen limbs again.
"Miruvor," Glorfindel said, and a grim smile came to his face as Legolas started to stir.
"I fear we have to carry on, as these are hardly ideal conditions to linger in, exhausted as our company may be," said Glorfindel to none in particular.
Yuvinel nodded, as did the Elven prince, who had recovered consciousness, but was still too ill to speak.
"Perhaps I should ride with you then, Legolas," Yuvinel offered.
To her surprise, no protests erupted, and instead, a weak but grateful smile was flashed at her.
Glorfindel helped Legolas onto Nardawin, and Yuvinel followed, taking a seat behind him, noting with alarm the iciness of his body. Legolas was drifting in and out of consciousness, and the maiden wrapped her body around his, attempting to pass on what little warmth on to him.
"We must journey for close to a day ere we can set a fire going," said Glorfindel, trying to hide the despair he felt.
It was not long before the sun burst through the clouds, warming the bedraggled party. Legolas recovered enough to be able to insist on riding behind Yuvinel, where he conversed with her, telling her tales of his homeland, describing the various beasts and trees he loved so dearly. She listened, although the worry did not lessen, for he was so cold, and his speech was slurred. He drifted off from time to time, leaving his sentences trailing.
Eventually, the terrain got friendlier, the snow gradually giving way to the first signs of life, bringing a smile to the face of the tired travellers. Even the horses were rejuvenated, and started walking with renewed strength.
"It will not be long before we find the shelter we seek!" Glorfindel said, leaping onto his steed.
The promised shelter materialised, a small cluster of bushes just tall enough to enable some protection from the elements. Legolas leapt off Nardawin, managing to keep his balance, and climbed atop a large rock, ears on the alert, listening hard, trying his best to pick up something from the sounds around, while the girl and Glorfindel set up camp.
Having got the makeshift camp ready, Glorfindel joined Legolas, looking out into the huge, open expanse.
"Legolas, I fear we have to make straight for Imladris."
The Silvan Elf swirled around, turning to face the Eldar, stricken.
"But - Esendri!"
"It is not a decision I wish to make!" snapped Glorfindel, "We are out of weapons, and I will not risk Yuvinel's well-being! We have to get back to Imladris and regroup. There is more to this than meets the eye! While I do not enjoy leaving a friend in need, you must understand that this is for the best!"
As expected, the prince did not reply, and made for the cover of the bushes, where he lay, back turned towards his companions. His mind was spinning. He knew that no amount of cajoling would turn Glorfindel around, as the tone in his made it clear that there would be no negotiating.
The soft night breeze did little to warm his chilled heart, and he started when he felt the warm hands of the maiden take his own icy ones.
"Legolas, rest, for we have much to cover tomorrow. Glorfindel has told me of his decision, and I cannot help but agree. Your body needs to be purged of the poison as soon as possible, and only then will you be able to be of any aid in rescuing Esendri!"
Her soothing words had little effect on his troubled mind, yet, he did not react angrily. Tears leapt to her eyes as she beheld the beautifully cold blue orbs, devoid of the sparkle they usually contained. She reached out gently and stroked his ashen cheek, marvelling at how cold and beautiful a creature he seemed, knowing that he was anything but.
Legolas relaxed visibly under her touch, and eventually fell into the world of strange Elvish dreams.
Glorfindel watched the goings-on, and heaved a sigh of relief as he saw the girl gently lay the limp hands of the Elf down upon the ground, before covering him with a thick cloak. The horses had settled down for the night as well, and he gestured for her to do the same, taking up the watch. Soon, his mind had started to wander, as he too entered the other realm of consciousness, even as his eyes remained wide open.
He was awoken by an anxious tug on the sleeve, and the frightened eyes of the maiden greeted him on his return to consciousness. Chiding himself for falling asleep, he stood up quickly.
"It's Legolas, Glorfindel! I am unable to rouse him!"
Glorfindel rushed over to Legolas, and his heart turned to ice. Huge convulsions wrecked the lithe body curled up on his side, as Legolas thrashed about wildly, bleeding hands clawing at the hard rock, eyes squeezed tightly shut. The poison had finally broken through the barrier, and was attacking the lean body with renewed intensity. Glorfindel chewed more leaves of the few healing herbs that remained, and stuffed them into the gaping wound, causing a greater bout of spasms to hit the young one, before he eventually passed into an fitful calm.
Mind racing, the Elflord turned towards Yuvinel. "We are a full five days of non-stop riding from Imladris. It is a trip that I will have to make alone, for Nardawin will not be able to take the strain. She will bear you there in her own time. It is imperative I ride out now, for not a moment is to be lost!"
Yuvinel nodded firmly, horrified eyes fixed upon the thin form.
Glorfindel strode over hastily and picked up the unconscious, shaking figure of his friend. Whistling for his steed, he leapt up, and was off with nary a word left, the limp body of the Elven prince held in his arms.
"Hang on, Legolas, Imladris awaits!" he whispered to the Silvan Elf, before driving his steed hard.
A/N: Miruvor - 'nectar, drink of the Valar' or 'a special wine or cordial'
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.