3. The Journey
“Well?” said Gimli.
“Well what?” Legolas asked, straight-faced as he sat down on the elegantly carved couch.
“You know very well what. How did the talk with your father go?’ Gimli retorted, inwardly laughing at the elf’s wide-eyed, innocent face. The Elven-prince grinned wryly.
“Not that well. Before I even walked through the door, he demanded to know what I was doing with a Dwarf. Gloin’s son, at that. Even I thought his old anger at the Dwarves for what happened so many years ago during the quest against Smaug had diminished.”
“The Dwarves have traded gems with your father, and been very courteous,” Gimli said, somewhat angered.
“Old prejudices do not easily go away. I told him of our errand, and asked if he could spare a score of the Elves to accompany me. After a bit of persuasion, he agreed to send some of my kinsfolk with us. He fears for our safety, so he sent a number of our best warriors.”
“Why, have the Orcs grown in numbers?”
“Nay, the Wargs have multiplied. Our folk here have battled them often over the past years, and last month three of our kin were lost.”
Gimli growled, and felt for his axe. “If I see a Warg on our journey my only response will be of glee! My axe has not felt the joy of battle for too long. So who is coming with us?”
“My younger brother Maedhros, for one. That took a deal of persuasion.” Legolas shook his head. “My father can be very stubborn when he has a mind to.”
“Like you,” Gimli snorted.
“You’re more stubborn than us both put together, Gimli. There’s nothing you cannot do, once you put your mind to it. Now come, we will go out, and you may meet others. And I shall show you Greenwood the Great.”
“Very well. But I shall take you through every nook and cranny of my home when we reach it,” Gimli warned as they left the room.
Three weeks later…
It was two hours before sunset. Twenty-six elves and one dwarf were journeying through the wood under the shadows, and, amazingly enough, were not fighting, arguing, or otherwise at odds with each other.
Legolas was worried. They were about a day and a half’s journey from Lake-town, where they had stopped for the night, and all had seemed well there; but now there was a sense of something evil hanging in the air.
Gimli, too, was increasingly uneasy. He could sense the same thing, and it put him on edge.
“Raugs!” hissed an Elf suddenly. Instantly Legolas had an arrow on the string.
“What is it?” Gimli growled, drawing his axe.
“Wargs,” Legolas replied, scanning the forest around them.
“Do you hear them? How close?”
“I can feel them in my blood,” Legolas replied. “They are very close, but there are not many of them.”
“One is mine!” Gimli said loudly. Legolas, in spite of his discomfort, had to smile.
There was a loud snarling, and out of the bushes on their left suddenly four Wargs sprang as one. Legolas wheeled, firing an arrow into the throat of the first, and another Elf shot a second. But the second Warg crashed into an Elf, bearing him to the ground.
Shouting a battle cry, Gimli leaped forward, swinging his axe. The blade cleaved the Warg’s head in two. Gimli turned for the fourth Warg, but already three arrows had found their mark, and it fell dead.
Then from behind them, on the other side of the path, four more Wargs leapt. They were met by a stream of arrows. Three fell dead, but the fourth turned and raced away through the trees. Legolas sent a swift arrow after it, catching the Warg in the leg, but to no avail. In a moment it was out of sight to all.
Maedhros said something in Elvish. Legolas nodded, and took the lead. “Forward!” he cried, and they set off at a great pace.
“What?” Gimli cried, panting as he ran alongside the Elf.
“The last Warg must have gone back to the den. They will attack again, and in greater numbers.”
Gimli growled. “I would that I had a hard rock at my back, and room to swing! But in this darkness I will find Warg-killing hard.”
“There is a cave not far from here, about an hour if we go swiftly,” Legolas said. “If we reach it, we may hold out long.”
“A cave! It does not compare with the caverns beneath Helm's Deep, I’ll warrant.”
Legolas shook his head. “Nay, but it is strong and we can light a fire there.”
“If the Wargs were smarter, they would do better not to come near me,” Gimli said. “I am just getting warmed up.”
“Good,” Legolas said. He fell back until he was beside his brother once more. Gimli could hear their hushed voices conversing in Sindarin.
Twenty minutes later Legolas was beside him again.
“But even so, we must quicken our pace if we are to reach the shelter of that cave ere the Sun goes down. Already she sinks towards the Mountain-top. Hurry!”
They reached the cave half an hour before sunset. Pulling inside the cave, they prepared as best they could for the inevitable Warg attack. They fortified the entrance with what rocks and wood they could find, leaving slits for the archers of Mirkwood.
Then they waited. And waited.
“I wish my father were here with some other of my kin. We know these Wargs-perhaps better than you Elves do. But he is not, and so we must do the best we can.”
Legolas said nothing.
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.