36. A Madness to the Method
This chapter is wholeheartedly dedicated to one of my dear friends, M.P.
Boromir squirmed and twisted in his bonds. He had an itch just above his right eyebrow, and chained to a tree with his hands behind his back as he was, it was impossible to reach. He tried rubbing his forehead against his shoulder to no avail. He simply could not reach the itch.
The son of Denethor wretched in his chains with a frustrated growl. Why was he not blessed with a smaller head, or bigger shoulders?
He straightened, resting the back of his head against the bark, and inhaled deeply. He must remain calm and collected. Perhaps the itch would go away. Closing his eyes, Boromir took another deep breath.
‘Calm and collected… Calm and collected.’
A second itch twinged at the top of his hairline. Calm and collected was quickly replaced by furious and unhinged. Boromir voiced his frustrations with language that would have made an orc blush.
Exhausting his verbal arsenal, it suddenly occurred to the Man of Gondor he might try drawing up a knee and using it to scratch his head. As the itches were prickling with maddening intensity, he wasted no time testing the idea. Thankfully, it worked. Not caring how strange he looked, Boromir vigorously rubbed his forehead against his knee. It felt wonderful.
Itches relieved, he rested against the tree in contentment. Gauging the sun’s position, Boromir decided he had another few hours before dusk settled and the orcs would stir. Craning his neck, he squinted into the tangled autumn foliage and sought out his captors. They slept through the waning hours of noon, piled atop one another in shallow pits dug beneath overhangs and underbrush. Aragorn was somewhere in that tangled mass of foul-smelling bodies. Boromir did not envy the man. He was actually thankful to be chained to a tree, especially if the alternative meant cuddling orcs.
At that very moment, Aragorn lay in silent misery amidst his fellow orcs. He had resorted to breathing out of his mouth to prevent gagging, though for some revolting reason he could still smell the creatures. The orc Lubdush, who had an arm thrown over Aragorn, twitched and smacked his lips. Suppressing a shudder, the Ranger gingerly attempted to remove the arm. The orc mumbled and pulled him closer.
A second orc resting at Aragorn’s head—was it Gorbdûl?—gurgled and rolled over. His face, though upside down, rested nose-to-nose with Aragorn’s. The orc leered in his sleep, producing a strange, high-pitched wheeze. Or perhaps it was a laugh.
Aragorn gagged as fetid orc breath rolled hotly off his face. A thin stream of drool trickled down the beast’s blubbery lips and misshapen chin. Aragorn realized he could either drown in a puddle of Orkish drool, or risk strangulation by nestling further into Lubdush’s chest. Neither was particularly appealing.
In the end, he chose strangulation.
Gritting his teeth, Aragorn tensed as Lubdush murmured something in the Black Tongue and swung a leg over him. It was futile to pretend the orc was Arwen. For one thing, the Evenstar did not snore, and for another, she most certainly did not have claws or a gag-inducing stench—despite what Elladan and Elrohir might claim. Aragorn’s skin crawled as rotted orc breath blew past his tar-encrusted neck.
Oh how he hated Boromir.
Gorbdûl, face slick with drool, twitched and drew closer. “Heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.”
Several bloated white insects hopped within the orc’s matted hair. Aragorn blanched. Lice. He was going to get lice.
He could not take much more of this.
He had been sleeping as such for the past week, while the orc company trekked towards Rivendell and then—much to the two men’s dismay—around the Elven realm. They were currently camped in the forested hills east of Rivendell’s borders, exactly opposite the direction Aragorn and Boromir wished to be.
‘Enough!’ Aragorn bit back a snarl. Escape was necessary sooner or later, for when the orc party joined with the others they would undoubtedly realize Aragorn was not who he said he was. Now, the Heir of Isildur reasoned, was good a time as any.
Aragorn began the tedious chore of wriggling himself free of Lubdush’s embrace. It was no easy task. ‘Why,’ he wondered, worming towards Lubdush’s feet, ‘did I not attempt this at an earlier hour?’
The orc sprawled at Lubdush’s feet jerked and burped. Aragorn froze. The tangle of orcs continued to snore in oblivion.
The tarred Heir of Isildur was thankful they posted no guards. All orcs, no matter how wary, still slept during the day. Such was the nature of the creatures. If there were any guards, Aragorn did not doubt they would be fast asleep at their posts.
He carefully positioned Lubdush’s arm over the drooling Gorbdûl. Neither orc seemed to notice the switch. Stepping awkwardly over piled bodies, Aragorn grabbed the discarded weapons of both Boromir and himself, and slipped into the glorious sunlight.
The glorious, fading sunlight.
Aragorn groaned, wondering how he had managed to so misjudge the hour. ‘Well, there is naught to be done about it now.’ He gathered he had about two hours’ time until dusk.
Boromir sat, comfortably chained to his tree in the cheerful autumn sunlight, and regarded the other with indifference. He appeared to be waiting for Aragorn to take action. Indeed, it almost seemed he had been expecting the Ranger. For some reason, this greatly irked Aragorn.
Boromir glanced pointedly to the grey sky.
“I was not aware the hour had grown so late,” Aragorn said crossly. He knelt down behind the other and set about working Boromir’s chains.
The manacles fell away with a soft chink. Boromir sighed gratefully and rubbed his wrists.
Aragorn tossed the man his sword and Horn of Gondor. “We must make haste,” said the dark-haired Ranger, glancing over his shoulder at the snoring orcs. “Imladris’ borders lie just below these hills. Hurry, before our ‘friends’ wake.”
“You need not tell me this,” Boromir curtly replied. He slung the horn over his shoulder and marched into the forest eaves, Aragorn at his side. “I hope,” the Man of Gondor added ruefully, “the Elves are as perceptive as you claim. Otherwise, I fear you in danger of being shot.” He wrinkled his nose. “And you smell of orc.”
Aragorn channeled his anger into concentrating on moving through the forest as quietly as possible. “My apologies.” Nonetheless, the comment came out with more sarcasm than he intended.
Boromir bristled and marched ahead with more purpose. Aragorn sighed, quickly reining in his emotions. Their bickering was leading nowhere, and likely to land them in even more trouble. The Heir of Isildur winced as Boromir carelessly swung his sword blade at a protruding tree branch. The man was making enough racket to wake the dead, and if he continued to hack at the forest when they reached Rivendell…
“Boromir,” Aragorn hissed as he hastened to the man’s side. “Boromir!”
The broad-shouldered man turned in exasperation. “What is it now?”
Several scathing comments sprang to Aragorn’s mind. He pushed them aside with effort. “The Elves will not be pleased if you continue to treat the land so. And,” he grimaced, knowing Boromir would not like what he had to say, “it would be wise were you to tread the forest with a bit more stealth.”
“Stealth?” Boromir’s voice lowered dangerously. His chest seemed to swell. “I have already made myself clear: Boromir son of Denethor does not slink through the trees as do the foul spies of the Enemy!”
Aragorn merely crossed his arms over his chest and regarded the other with an unreadable expression. Boromir found it unnervingly Elf-like. In fact, it rather reminded him of Lord Elrond. Unsure of what to do, he simply pulled himself to his full height and glared back. Aragorn’s grey eyes regarded him coolly. Boromir found himself swiftly losing ground. Fuming, he dropped his gaze and looked away.
“Come,” Aragorn quietly commanded. He glanced at the sky, whose icy grey was giving way to a dull orange glow. “We have not much time before dusk.” Realizing his options were painfully limited, Boromir grudgingly followed.
Shadows stretched further across the forest, blending with those of their neighbors and blanketing the autumn-dressed trees in soft gloam. Drawing the soiled remnants of his cloak about his shoulders, Boromir suppressed a shiver. Hostile winds swept down from the mountains, sending painted leaves quivering as they blew by.
Peculiar noises radiated throughout the dusky woods: grunts, snapping twigs, and the distinct rasp of blade upon whetting stone. On more than one occasion, the two men found themselves scrambling behind tree or boulder as parties of orcs tramped through the undergrowth.
The constant duck-and-cover left Boromir’s nerves raw and on edge. Repressing the urge to go forth and fight, coupled with the constant watch for the Enemy, was physically and emotionally draining.
And then there was Aragorn.
Aragorn, who seemed perfectly at ease. That is, as much as one could be so given their situation. The tarred Heir of Isildur slipped beneath the eaves like wisps of smoke, blending into the surrounding forest so well Boromir was disgusted—or perhaps jealous, though he would not admit to the latter.
The two men had taken to walking side-by-side whenever possible. Boromir noticed that whenever he surged ahead, Aragorn would quicken his pace and attempt to overtake him. Similarly, whenever Aragorn’s strides grew longer, Boromir wasted no time in matching them.
Boromir supposed they must look quite ridiculous, each man trying to keep his pace at a walk while simultaneously attempting to outdistance the other. Still, he would not give Aragorn the satisfaction of winning.
Boromir strode down the hill at what could have been argued as a jog, or at very least a springy walk. Aragorn never left his side.
It was somewhat of a surprise when Aragorn went from alert to tense in the blink of an eye, swiftly ducking down into the decaying leaf litter. “Atop the ridge, to your right.”
Following the other’s outstretched arm, Boromir easily made out the dark collection of figures as they crested the rise. He paused and toyed with his sword just long enough that Aragorn reached out to grab him. The Man of Gondor threw himself to the ground of his own accord, disgust written plainly across his face. Dead leaves rustled loudly as he hit the damp forest floor.
Aragorn’s grey eyes flashed. He was positive Boromir was purposely making more noise than necessary. He was forced to keep his comments to himself, however. The alarmingly large contingent of orcs galloping down the hillside left both men ducking amidst a tangle of briars.
The forest trembled under countless Orkish feet. Sauron’s dark minions called loudly and barked back and forth as they thundered through the trees, dark shapes giving the dusk-laden forest a nightmarish quality.
They passed as quickly as they had come; yet still their presence was felt profoundly within the shaken wood. Ignoring the thorns tearing at him, Aragorn leapt to his feet. “Elbereth! That is a whole army headed towards Imladris’ borders.” He cleared the briar patch, half sliding down the hill in his haste. For the first time in ages, Aragorn felt panic wrap its icy fingers around his chest and squeeze unmercifully. Rivendell was about to be attacked. Had the realm ever before come under assault? Would it withstand such an onslaught? Lord Elrond’s powers were mighty, but—
And with that thought, Aragorn son of Arathorn, so painstakingly trained by the wise Elves of Rivendell and Dunedain of the North, was rendered completely irrational.
Arwen. He must protect Arwen.
* * *
All was silent on the grounds of the Last Homely House, most of its inhabitants having rushed to defend the borders or resigned to await fate within their dwellings.
Elrond defiantly lifted his chin to the east, wind whipping braided locks across his ageless face in thin strands. The setting sun bathed Imladris in weary pink gloam, and trees creaked uneasily in the growing darkness. Elrond’s sharp features drew into a determined frown. He could feel the Enemy drawing closer, shadow sliding across the land like thick grease.
‘No matter,’ the Elf lord thought angrily. Autumn had arrived far too soon, but he still held the winter at bay.
‘Let them come.’ Steely grey eyes narrowed and glinted in the fading light. ‘Let them come.’
* * *
Merry could barely contain his excitement. One week ago, he had been restricted to bed and was little more than a useless menace. Now, here he was: just beyond Rivendell’s borders awaiting an Orkish onslaught. The young hobbit fairly danced with giddiness, his head feeling strangely light and airy.
Pippin squirmed excitedly at his side. “Do you see anything yet?”
Merry shook his head. “No, not yet.” He scratched the back of his neck and sighed heavily. “I do wish those orcs would hurry. It’s getting dreadfully boring just sitting here and waiting.”
Wiggling his toes impatiently, Pippin nodded in agreement. “I’ll say.”
Quiet laughter floated down from the tree branches above. “Do not be so eager to join the battle, little ones,” came an amused Elven voice.
“But my,” a second clear voice laughed, “the pheriannath are a bloodthirsty Race!”
“We are not,” protested Pippin, squinting up into the darkened branches. “We hobbits are a very peace-loving folk. It’s just that… Well, just that…”
“We’re bored,” Merry flatly concluded. “And I’ll have you know, good Elves, there have been plenty of warrior hobbits.”
The crisp fall air rang with silvery Elvish laughter. For some reason, both hobbits felt inclined to join in.
“There’s something nice about Elvish laughter,” Pippin later confided to his cousin. “It makes you feel happy, and want to make them laugh even more.” Merry agreed.
Long strands of Etagnolë* vine had been woven together to form thick bands, and were stretched along the land just before Rivendell’s borders. The makeshift slingshots were tied to trees, or, when there were no trees, to carefully constructed wooden posts. The slingshots’ woven nettings themselves were held fast with fine Elvish rope. One needed only to cut the taut rope, and the nets snapped forward with alarming speed.
The slingshots were at least three deep; it was readily agreed that an orc would have greater difficulty avoiding three sets of the contraptions as opposed to one.
And there were, of course, the standard defenses of archers and swordsmen. Young eagles circled above, eagerly awaiting the chance to prove their mettle. They cast magnificent shadows over the woods, gliding silently in the dull twilight.
Shielding his eyes, Pippin looked upward and sighed in wistful admiration. He had been particularly fond of eagles since his last flight with the Windlord Landroval. He was about to mention something of the Eagles’ majestic nature to Merry, when he noticed the unnatural hush settled over the land. He looked to his cousin questioningly. Merry shook his head and shrugged in reply.
Pippin gasped as several grim-faced Elves materialized at his side. Their bright eyes were focused intently on the steep eastern hills and mountains. Pippin held his breath. He was suddenly very glad Sam and Bilbo had remained in Rivendell. Sam made it very clear he wanted no part in the battle, and Bilbo… The Elves—more precisely, Lord Elrond—had tricked Bilbo into staying behind, claiming his genius would be needed to defend the Elf lord’s very halls.
The Elves, seeming to possess a calm alertness utterly foreign to both hobbits, drew their swords. A barely perceptible rustle emanated from surrounding trees as arrows were nocked and bows swiftly drawn.
Pippin realized he was chewing his nails.
Thin mist snaked down from the mountains, invading the eerily silent woods and thickening upon the ground. A strange rumble came from the hills, growing louder with each passing second. The trees began to shake. Merry tensed and drew in a sharp breath. His pounding heart took to an erratic flutter. At his side, Pippin trembled and grew ghastly pale.
It occurred to Merry perhaps he had forgotten about being afraid.
Harsh calls, magnified and hollow sounding in the mist, echoed throughout the forest. Merry could just make out the surging wave of black moving through the hills ahead. He was suddenly very glad he stood behind the third row of slingshots.
Pippin grabbed his wrist. Merry turned to the younger hobbit, intending to offer some words of comfort. Pippin looked dangerously close to fainting.
Come to think of it, Merry didn’t feel so well himself. And his thoughts tended to revolve around scenes of terror rather than comfort.
Pippin wouldn’t have heard him as it was. The young hobbit was too busy staring at the oncoming horde, eyes the size of saucers.
A cool hand touched Merry’s forehead. He blinked owlishly, wondering at the unexpected sensations of warmth and relief flooding over him.
Erestor smiled reassuringly and removed his hand. “Fear not, Master Hobbits.” The tall Elf placed a hand upon Pippin’s shoulder. “Mayhap we shall bend, but we will not break.”
Merry nodded vigorously and turned to his petrified cousin. “See Pip?” His voice was several notches squeakier than he would have liked. “See? It’s going to be all right. Like Erestor says: ‘break but not bend.’ I mean—break, but not—break—bend—brend—oh—“
Pippin smiled wanly and pointed forward. “Orcs.”
“Buhhhhhhh,” was all Merry managed, transfixed by the nightmarish sight before him and unaware his mouth still moved of its own accord.
Crude Orkish blades glinted red in the waning rays of sunlight. Harsh cries and guttural screams drove away the normal sounds of dusk. A great howl of rage erupted from the dark horde. The Elves answered in turn, their clear and defiant shouts forming an off-key chord to that of the orcs’.
‘So this is what battle is like,’ Merry found himself thinking, overwhelmed and dazed by the sheer magnitude of activity on all sides of him. It was a pure chaos he could make no sense of. It barely registered that Erestor had picked up both he and Pippin, and was now retreating back to the safety of Rivendell.
He watched over Erestor’s shoulder as the front wave of orcs hit the first nets. A clear Elvish command rang out. The nets snapped forward with sharp twangs, sending numerous black bodies rocketing skyward. Delighted eagle cries, mixed with Orkish wails of despair, came from above as the Eagles swooped down and made sport of snatching the airborne orcs mid-flight.
Pippin’s slack jaw jarred against Erestor’s shoulder as the tall Elf walked onward. “Valar,” the hobbit murmured in awe, watching a very confused Orkish army bumble into the second row of slingshots. As the sun slipped beneath the horizon and released an unexpected burst of brilliant evening color, the sky ran thick with Elvish arrows, diving Eagles, and wailing orcs.
“Wait!” Merry, much to Erestor’s chagrin, began struggling within the councilor’s grasp. “Where are we going?”
The dark-haired Elf paused to cast the hobbit a bemused look. “Why, back to Imladris.”
“What?” Merry increased the intensity of his struggles. “I want to see the battle!”
Erestor shifted the hobbit in his arms and sniffed airily. “That is hardly prudent, young Brandybuck. You shall be much safer with the rest of your kin.”
“And do not worry,” the Elf continued somewhat tersely, “I am sure you will view plenty of battle upon your future travels.”
“I don’t think they’ll look quite like that,” Pippin interjected with an awestruck shake of the head.
* * *
Boromir slowly got to his feet. Gingerly picking briars from his sleeves, the man cautiously maneuvered out of the thorn patch.
Aragorn beckoned violently to him before turning an anxious eye in the direction the orcs had tread. “Come, we must make haste!”
Boromir decided he didn’t like the wild look in the other’s eyes. “Now you wish to fight them,” he muttered, loud enough for Aragorn to hear. He frowned and rubbed the top of his hand where a briar snagged him.
“Did you not see the size of their forces? If they reach the borders before Imladris is warned, all will be lost! “
Had that been panic Boromir detected in Aragorn’s voice? He regarded the man in wary curiosity. “What exactly do you intend to do? Attack from behind? Come, Aragorn, even I would not try those odds.” Boromir wondered how it was he became the voice of reason. To the best of his knowledge, this was a first time occurrence.
Aragorn took to pacing. Boromir was mildly alarmed. Never had he seen Aragorn openly unsettled, much less pacing. Then again, never had he been the one to give sound, levelheaded advice. Mayhap he would start spouting proverbs. Boromir shook his head. That was a strange thought, indeed.
“If we tie a bit of rope around your wrists,” said Aragorn, musing aloud as he rubbed his tar-encrusted chin, “you may pass as a prisoner and I as your keeper.”
Boromir blinked. “Prisoner? Oh no, I think not.” He crossed his arms over his chest. “I will not allow you,” he flatly stated, “to restrain me in any manner.”
Aragorn abruptly stopped pacing and unleashed an impressive glare upon the son of Denethor. Evening sun silhouetting his tar-covered frame, Boromir thought the man looked marvelously insane. “In order to catch them unawares,” Aragorn spoke tightly, “we must blend in with the Enemy.”
Boromir snorted. “Yes, I quite fancy being slaughtered at the hands of several hundred orcs, in the guise of a prisoner, no less.”
“Do you not understand what will happen should those creatures reach the borders?” Aragorn turned upon Boromir with a snarl. “I will not stand by and watch the only home I know destroyed, and those I love perish within it!”
Boromir replied with equal intensity. “It is this very thing that happens daily within my homeland! You think I would not give anything—do anything—to stop it? Why do you think I have journeyed all this way?” He threw up his arms in fury. “Why do you think I join this doomed Quest?”
“Save your words for a more sympathetic ear and place, son of Denethor!”
The darkened forest echoed with their shouts, yet neither man cared. Weeks of anger boiled to the surface and spilled over.
“You care nothing for Gondor or her people!” Boromir balled his fists, face flushed crimson with rage. “You are nothing but a power-hungry, crown-snatching thief! Heir of Isildur? Hah! Bane of Isildur, more likely. It is you whom are our downfall—not some trinket ring!”
“Do not DARE presume to know my character, or what I have seen!” Aragorn stood toe-to-toe with the Man of Gondor. “And speak not of the Ring as though it were a thing so easily dismissed! I tire of your bullish nature and foolish ways, son of Denethor. You take action only when it suits your own needs; you care for no one but yourself! The lack of respect you show towards other Races is appalling!”
“At least I know my place—I know whom my people are!”
“ENOUGH!” Aragorn took off his scabbard belt and pulled it taut. “Just put this strap around your wrists—” He lunged.
Boromir shoved him back with a snarl. “When orcs fly!”
Face contorted in fury, Aragorn opened his mouth to reply.
At that precise moment, no less than five screaming orcs went sailing over the treetops.
Dumbfounded, the two men watched the wailing creatures meet un-wielding tree branch. Several sickening snaps preceded unearthly thumps as the orcs fell most ungracefully to the ground.
Aragorn and Boromir stared at one another. Boromir seemed not to notice his mouth was hanging open. Aragorn again glanced upward, slowly rubbing his pitch-covered chin as several more flailing orcs went shooting across the twilit sky. “Certainly did not see that coming,” he murmured, feeling words of some sort were necessary.
* * *
The Dark Lord’s plans to pressure the realm of Elrond had gone horribly awry. Units fell into disarray as they were cut down by the steel-tipped feathers of Elvish arrows, or flung into oblivion by carefully concealed slingshots. Elven blades swiftly felled those who managed to escape the arrows or nets.
Eagles with beaks and talons sharper than razors dove upon them from the night sky; Elves with eyes blazing brighter than the hated sun showed no mercy. Not a single orc reached Rivendell’s borders.
The grey clouds of day thinned in the night, leaving patches of clear sky. Stars winked merrily from above, and the moon lent a gentle phosphorescence to the massacre below. Beneath the mocking night, sad remnants of the Orkish mass turned tail and ran. Back into the hills and mountains they fled, while more unfortunate comrades went sailing over the darkened treetops, howling in terror. The Eagles were close behind, driving them away from the horrible flinging nets and cheering Elves with fierce relish.
It was then, amidst the wooded hills, that The Creature came.
Shining whiter and more terribly bright than a full moon—or, strangely purple at some angles—it burst through the mist and charged pell-mell towards the orcs. It shrieked and moaned as it ran, infusing even more panic into an already terrorized army.
Some claimed it had two legs, others four. Likewise, the ghostly Creature was said to gallop by some and roll by others. Tree branches grew from its neck. Its belly was larger than that of a dragon’s, and it could easily swallow ten orcs at once. Its eyes were glistening orbs of pitch, blacker than the orcs themselves. “Gnûsh-kil” the orcs named it—The Destroyer.* For, those whom the Creature brushed by were instantly hewn down or melted beneath its flailing limbs.
As it was, Shadowfax was far too miserable and half-delirious with colic to realized the marvelous effect he had upon Sauron’s minions.
* * *
Thump! Crack! Thump-thump-THUD.
It was all Aragorn and Boromir could do but stand and watch as orcs rained from the evening sky.
THUD! Boromir jumped as a broken orc body nearly landed on top of him. He gaped skyward and ducked as two more beasts came to rest where he had been standing only moments before.
Where were they coming from? Obviously, the sky—that much was certain. ‘But how,’ Boromir wondered. ‘How did they get up there?’
He was given no further time to ponder this mystery, as the sounds of a large mass moving through the woods drew his attention. His sword was instantly in his hand. He gave it an experimental swipe, blood singing in tune to the sweet metallic shiver. Boromir allowed himself a cold smile. Aragorn could go rot in Mordor, for all he cared. The son of Denethor would not cower in the bushes this time.
Bringing the Horn of Gondor to his lips, Boromir released a powerful blast. The hills reverberated in reply.
“Death take us all!” he cried, and charged recklessly into the woods.
Had he bothered to look over his shoulder, he may have been pleasantly surprised to find Aragorn just as eager to fight as himself.
Fire danced through the Heir of Isildur’s grey eyes. Of course he knew better than to charge headfirst into oncoming Orkish armies.
The hills echoed with a second Horn blast.
Aragorn threw himself at the first dark creature he saw, sword glinting in the orange dusk.
No matter. If they survived, he could always blame this on Boromir.
Etagnolë: “Hedera elasticus. Member of the vine family. Long, thick plant with woody stem composed of elastic fibres. May grow to be a maximum of 8 cm in diameter. Leaves small but numerous, approximately 5 cm in length. Younger shoots, when properly treated, may be used for therapy purposes or swings. Poisonous if consumed.”
--Bryn’s Guide of Imaginary Middle-earth Species, Chapter 5 “Fun With Fire,” pg. 88.
Gnûsh-kil, The Destroyer—purely inventive Orkish-sounding nonsense.
* * *
Hiro-tyre- *lol* I hope you enjoy reading the story! Thank you for the review!!
Miriel- Oooh, good catch on the typo! Legolas can be quite an arrogant snot when he wants to, can't he? In my opinion, he deserved every punch he got, and Gimli is deserving of some sympathy. The poor Dwarf has gone through just about everything and then some. I admit to taking Merry's therapy from the stretches I was forced to do. :) I'm thrilled to hear things are working out so well for you with Shadowfax. Don't worry about Glorfindel--he's well taken care of. (Thundera Tiger claimed him as well as Gimli, Glóin, and poor Erestor. And Thranduil.) The darker chapters caught me off guard as well, but it can't be all fun and games, I suppose. And both Gimli and Legolas needed a sharp reminder of what lies at stake. Thank you for the wonderful reviews!!! :)
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