Time of the Orcs has come, The: 6. The duel

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6. The duel

Legolas looked at Haldir. The March Warden's horror-and pain-were written clearly on his face but, always supportive, he patted Legolas' shoulder encouragingly. Legolas lifted Eowyn into his arms and carried her out of the healing room, through the forest, and into the their cave. "Forgive me, my love…" he whispered, laying her down on their bedroll. Carefully, he removed her boots and leggings, then undressed himself and knelt down beside her. How could he do this without hurting her? Gently, he stroked her stomach, sweeping his fingers in wide circles, warming and stimulating the skin. Eowyn moaned. Very slowly, so as not to frighten her, he slid his hand down between her thighs, pressing his fingers against her most sensitive flesh, caressing and probing, and preparing her for lovemaking. "No," whispered Eowyn, barely loud enough for even an elf to hear, "no, no, no." Tears ran down Legolas' face. "Trust me, melmenya," he whispered. Then he lay between her legs, and slipped slowly into her body, a fraction of an inch at a time, until he was completely inside her. And he began making love to her, in a gentle, rocking rhythm. … "Come lie with me," hissed the merman, laying her down on its rocky bed. And it stretched out its long thin fingers, caressing the scaly green skin of her belly and running its hand downwards to probe the strange opening where her body joined her tail. Eowyn felt the first stirrings of desire… "No," she whispered, "no, no, no." "Leave her, if you want to live!" Eowyn pushed hard at the merman's chest and turned her head-and her heart leapt with joy to see Legolas, standing tall and magnificent in the water, his angry face surrounded by billowing blonde hair. "She is my wife!" he cried, "and you shall not have her!" And he drew his bow and loosed a warning shot that grazed the merman's shoulder. The merman slid off Eowyn's body and swam towards the him, its hands outstretched. "She isss no longer your wife, little creature," it hissed. "She isss a woman of the sssea, my mer-maid. She can no longer walk on land or live in air-" "You lie!" cried Legolas and, moving faster than Eowyn's eyes could see, he loosed two more arrows that pierced the merman's chest. But the creature hardly paused as it pulled the arrows from its flesh and dashed them away. Legolas threw down his bow and drew out his two white knives, spinning them in the water to align their blades. "Foolish little creature," hissed the merman. "Your weaponsss cannot harm me!" And with a sweep of its arm, it knocked the knives from Legolas' hands and trapped the elf in a lethal embrace. But it had underestimated its opponent. As it moved its hand to the back of Legolas' head, the elf broke its grip, swept up his knives from the seabed, and buried both blades in the merman's fragile gills. The creature howled with pain as ribbons of blood spiralled through the water. "She is mine!" cried Legolas. "You shall not have her! I will take her back to the forest, where she belongs!" And he dropped his white knives and knelt beside Eowyn. "Trust me, melmenya," he whispered. And there, in the water, on the merman's own bed, he gently entered her strange, scaly body, and began making love to her, in a gentle, rocking rhythm. … "Oh, Legolas!" gasped Eowyn, her eyes flying open, "Oh! Oh! My love!" And she clung to him as the pleasure crested and rolled through her body, leaving her head and her arms and her legs tingling with joy. "I am still myself…" she whispered. "It was just a dream." … When they approached Eryn Brethil, where the great carantaurs disappeared and the beech forest that lined the Anduin flood plain began, the elves suddenly reined in their horses. Berryn, who was riding between them, began to protest, but Orophin held up his hand. "Shhhhh," he said. He pulled his bow from its strap and nocked an arrow, then gestured to his brother. Rumil drew his sword and slowly rode forward. "What-" began Berryn. "Shhhhh!" Orophin waited until Rumil was thirty yards ahead, then gestured Berryn to follow. The three riders edged forward, slowly, the elves watching and listening, and the man jumping at every movement of the trees. Five minutes passed, then ten… And Berryn had just managed to convince himself that it was a false alarm-when three orcs leapt from the undergrowth in front of Rumil, swords raised. The brothers were ready-Orophin brought two down with perfectly aimed arrows, and Rumil finished off the third with his blade. But another five orcs had already surrounded Berryn and were attempting to drag him from his horse. Berryn, who, despite his courage, was no fighter, had drawn his sword and was slashing wildly at his attackers. The brothers rode back through the melee, cutting and slicing. "Ride!" cried Orophin. He caught the bridle of Berryn's horse and the three riders galloped out of the ambush, Rumil slashing at the single orc that tried to follow. "Out onto the flood plain," cried Orophin, "where we can see them coming! We will ride along the edge of the forest. It will take longer, but we have more chance of getting there alive." "We must hurry," shouted Berryn. "I think the merman knows we are coming!" … "What is wrong?" asked Eowyn, anxiously. Dínendal had carefully removed her dressing and was staring at her shoulder. "There is nothing wrong, my lady, your wound is healing nicely." The scaling had completely disappeared. "But I want you to stay here for the rest of the day, so that I can watch your progress." He drew Legolas aside. "I am concerned," he said, "about the sudden disappearance of the skin reaction, for I do not believe that all the poison has left her body. I will continue applying the salve and will keep a watch for any return of the symptoms. And you are welcome to stay here with her, my lord." … Eowyn soon fell into a troubled sleep and Legolas, sitting by her side, holding her hand, was just beginning to slip into reverie… "Orc attack! Orc attack!" Legolas leapt to his feet. Haldir was running towards him. "About thirty have invaded the encampment to the south west," he cried, "but we have them contained." "Reinforce the entire perimeter," said Legolas. "I will join you…" A movement caught his eye: Eowyn was struggling to get out of bed. "No melmenya!" he cried. "Not this time. You are not fully recovered; you must stay here." When she began to protest he continued, sternly, "I will not argue with you Eowyn-you will stay here if I have to tie you down. And I will, melmenya." A tiny smile appeared on Eowyn's face, and she sat down on the bed, quite heavily. "Good," said Legolas. He turned to the two Mirkwood elves, who were still guarding their sleeping comrade. "Valandil, Orodreth, we need you defending the encampment," he said. "We must leave Finrod in the healers' care." … "Gods speed, Legolas," whispered Eowyn, as she watched him leave with Haldir. And she suddenly felt very tired, so she lay back on the stone bed and closed her eyes. … He is nervous, thought Nolofinwë, glancing at Fëanáro. The stringer was quietly packing the tools of his trade into a small pouch. He is very nervous. Perhaps he plans to attack Finrod whilst everyone else is distracted by the orcs. And what does he intend to do with those? Fëanáro had slipped the pouch into his pocket. Nolofinwë picked up his sharpening stone and began to hone a blade. Out of the corner of his eye he saw the stringer glance round the workshop, as if to check that no one was watching him. Then he slipped out of the cave without a word. I must follow him, thought Nolofinwë. He put down his sharpening stone. "I will be back in a moment," he said, to Taurnil and Mahtan, and he rose and left the cave. Fëanáro was already disappearing through the trees, heading in the direction of the healing cave. Nolofinwë followed silently, at a safe distance. … "Three!" roared Gimli, pulling his axe from the back of an orc's skull then spinning around to cut down another beast with a blow to the neck. "Awwww! Four!" "Eight!" cried Legolas, nocking another arrow. "Six!" shouted Haldir, dodging an Uruk Hai's sword and stabbing upwards, cutting its throat. … Eowyn moaned. Master Dínendal-busily preparing the healing room to receive casualties-immediately stopped what he was doing and went to her bedside. The lady was flushed and restless. Dínendal laid the back of his hand against her brow-she was feverish. Carefully, he removed her dressing and examined her wound. The discolouration and scaling were back. Dínendal fetched some water and a cloth and began to clean the wound, working from her shoulder to her breast. "No!" cried Eowyn. "Get away from me! Get away!" and she began to struggle. Dínendal leant over her, intending to restrain her, gently, and was taken completely by surprise when Eowyn suddenly lashed out, punching his face. … "Legolas?" "He isss not here," hissed the merman, leaning over her and trailing its thin hand across her throat and down between her breasts. "He hasss abandoned you, my love." "No!" cried Eowyn. "That is not true! He is protecting me-he is protecting all of us-from your vile orcs! Get away from me! Get away!" And she beat her fists against the merman's head and chest. … Fëanáro had stopped at the edge of the clearing and was staring into the healing cave. Nolofinwë crept closer. What is he looking at? he wondered. By the gods! Through the mouth of the cave the swordsmith could see Lady Eowyn pounding Master Dínendal with her little fists. And, as he watched, the healer, taken by surprise-and far too gentle to retaliate-sank to the floor, stunned, and the lady rose from her bed, pulled off her long white shift, and walked-naked-out into the forest. What do I do now? Nolofinwë wondered. The lady is clearly delirious-she does not know what she is doing-and must be brought back, but I have been charged to protect Finrod… He looked around. The healer was still lying on the ground and there was no one else in sight that he could call to for help. And Fëanáro had started to move. Nolofinwë grasped the hilt of his sword, ready to run forward and defend Finrod, but the stringer did not enter the healing cave. Instead he walked across the clearing and back into the forest, to where the horses were kept. Keeping his distance, in the cover of the trees, Nolofinwë watched Fëanáro untie one of the horses, mount it, and set off at a gallop, heading south east, into the densest part of the forest. With everyone either fighting the orcs to the west or watching the flood plain, no one will see him go, thought Nolofinwë. Should I follow? No, Finrod is safe-Lady Eowyn is my priority now. And he ran back towards the healing cave. Master Dínendal was already struggling to his feet. "Lady Eowyn is walking towards the castle," Nolofinwë called. "Send help after us!" Then he ran into the forest in pursuit of the errant woman. … "Why is it that we are always in the place furthest from the action?" asked Orodreth. They had been sitting in the trees, keeping a watch on the castle, since the orc attack had started. "Perhaps Prince Legolas just wants to keep his old Mirkwood comrades safe," said Valandil, grinning. Orodreth laughed-then he suddenly held up his hand, listening hard, "Hear that?" he asked softly. Valandil nodded. "Something in the undergrowth." Both elves silently nocked an arrow and peered down through the branches. An orc emerged into the clearing beneath the tree. Both elves instantly loosed their arrows and the orc fell-to be immediately replaced by another. The elves dispatched the second beast, and it was replaced by another, and then another, and another. The two elves soon fell into a steady rhythm, shooting each orc as it emerged from the brushwood. Neither noticed the naked woman slip out of the forest, walk across the flood plain, and enter the castle. And neither noticed the elf following her. … Cautiously, Nolofinwë entered the castle keep. Lady Eowyn was in the Great Hall, sitting on the floor, waiting. "My lady?" said Nolofinwë, softly. "My lady, you should not be here." He took off his jerkin and tried to drape it around her shoulders, but the woman pushed it away. "Please my lady-" he began. "No!" cried Eowyn, "No! I do not want to leave!" "Very well, my lady," said Nolofinwë. "We will wait." And, please gods, he thought, let help come soon. … "Sssoon, my love," hissed the merman, draping a sharkskin mantle around her shoulders, "sssoon we will leave this dry world behind." "No!" cried Eowyn, shrugging off the mantle. "No! I do not want to leave!" … "Thirty-three," shouted Gimli, swinging his axe, "thirty-four…" This does not make any sense, thought Legolas. "Gimli, Haldir, to me!" he yelled, drawing his two friends out of the battle. "What are they doing?" he asked. "They are not making any attempt to advance-they are hardly fighting. And they have not attacked anywhere else along the perimeter. It is as if they want to keep us here. But why? What else is happening and where?" He shook his head. "I need to go and look. Gimli-take charge here. Haldir-come with me!" … Master Dínendal, following the sounds of battle, met Legolas and Haldir racing through the forest. "What happened to you?" asked Legolas, taking the healer's arm. Dínendal touched his damaged face. "It was-it was Lady Eowyn, my lord," he said softly. "She attacked me and left the healing room-left the campsite." "No…" said Legolas, shaking his head, "no!" "I believe she was hallucinating, my lord," said Dínendal. "And I frightened her-she seemed to think that she was defending herself…" "Where did she go?" asked Haldir. "Master Nolofinwë said she was walking towards the castle. He was following her." Legolas looked at Haldir. "We must go after her-fetch her back, quickly," he said. "And we will need Gimli if we are going to find her in that castle-can you make your own way back to the healing room, Master Dínendal?" The healer nodded. "Why would Eowyn go to the castle?" asked Haldir as they ran back towards the battlefield. "I do not know," answered Legolas, "but I would be willing to wager that the creature has had a hand in this." … In the strange darkness of the castle keep, Nolofinwë's senses were straining to their limits. He could hear the water dripping from the cistern in the roof; he could hear the mice running under the floorboards beneath him; and now he could hear footsteps coming from inside the castle wall. Beside him, Lady Eowyn, who had been sitting completely-unnaturally-still, suddenly raised her head and looked towards the opposite wall. Nolofinwë stood, drew his sword, and stepped forward silently. At the last moment, some instinct told him to step aside and he watched in amazement as the front of one of the piers swung towards him and a creature-tall, thin, and covered in thick grey hair-stepped out into the hall and beckoned to Lady Eowyn. By the Valar! It is real, he thought. He raised his sword. "Leave her!" he cried. The creature spun around, raising its right arm, and knocked the sword out of Nolofinwë's hand. And the swordsmith's mind was suddenly filled with a voice-a terrible, raw, hissing voice, laden with malice. Foolish, foolish little creature, it said. She isss my chosssen mate. And you cannot ssstop her coming with me. "No!" cried Nolofinwë. "She does not belong to you. She is the wife of the Lord of Eryn Carantaur! And she is my sovereign lady!" And he threw himself between the creature and the cowering woman. The creature snarled, wrapped its arms around him, and began to squeeze-squeezing the air out of his lungs, squeezing the life out of his body-and, as his eyes began to darken, Nolofinwë felt its hand slide up to the back of his head. "No!" screeched Lady Eowyn. "No! No! Legolas!" And Nolofinwë dropped into oblivion. … "Come to me, come join me now, my love," hissed the merman. Eowyn shook her head, No! No! she thought, but the merman was beckoning, beckoning, and she could not resist… She began to rise to her feet, to follow him. But an elf, tall and fair and noble, stepped between them. "Leave her!" he cried, "she does not belong to you!" And Eowyn watched in agony as the merman grasped him and began to squeeze the life from his body. "No!" she screeched. "No! No! Legolas!" … As Legolas, Haldir and Gimli emerged onto the flood plain, three riders approached them from the west. "It is Berryn, with Rumil and Orophin," said Haldir. "My lord!" cried Berryn, springing down from the saddle, "Lady Eowyn-the monster wants Lady Eowyn!" He ran beside Legolas. "The merman-that is what it is called-comes ashore to find a mate." "Lady Eowyn would never leave u-never leave Lord Legolas for that thing!" cried Haldir. "It has taken her against her will…" said Legolas, softly. "The merman can control the minds of-er-lower animals," explained Berryn, "such as orcs and, to some extent, humans-even elves, if they are close enough." "And Eowyn is weakened by the poison," said Legolas. "If she accepts the merman, my lord," said Berryn, "it will take her below the sea. And if that happens-if she begins to breathe under water-she can never return." "How do I kill this thing?" asked Legolas. "No one knows, my lord," Berryn admitted. "Arrows and blades do not appear to harm it in the normal way. But The Natural History of the Merman suggests that its gills, on the sides of its neck, may be its most vulnerable part." Legolas nodded. "It is not much to work with, Master Berryn," he said. "Come, we must hurry." … They found Nolofinwë lying on the floor of the Great Hall. "Is he-" began Legolas. "He is still breathing," said Orophin. "Thank the Valar," said Legolas. The swordsmith's sword was lying in front of the secret door. Legolas picked it up. "He must have tried to protect Eowyn," he said. "The merman has taken her to its nest-Gimli, can you open the door?" Gimli ran his hand down the stone moulding and pulled on the concealed handle. The front of the pier swung open. "Rumil, Orophin, stay with Nolofinwë," said Legolas. "If we are not back in an hour, fetch help. Master Berryn, will you join us?" "Of course, my lord." Haldir lit four torches and the two elves, the dwarf and the man stepped through the pier-door and descended the spiral staircase. The merman's nest, lined with Berryn's torn parchments, was empty. "My maps!" whispered the cartographer, sadly. "He must have taken her deeper into the rock," said Gimli. "Come, follow me." They continued descending. "It is dank down here," said Haldir, looking around uncomfortably. "And it feels as though the entire weight of Arda is pressing on our heads." "Yes," agreed Legolas. "But," he added, "Eowyn is used to buildings of stone and to underground caves-so the confinement will not trouble her so much…" At last the staircase ended, and the rescuers stepped out into a low, broad cave. Legolas raised his torch. Strange rock formations glistened in the firelight-ribbons of coloured stone spilled from the ceiling to the floor, forming natural pillars and curtains of rock and casting intricate shadows on the walls. The floor sloped gently down to a dark pool of water. "This is a strange cave," said Gimli. "Chilling. I feel as though ten thousand ants were crawling across my flesh…" "The merman is nearby, my lords," said Berryn, shuddering. "I can feel the fear surrounding me-perhaps that is why you are all finding this place so unnerving." Gimli drew his axe and walked down to the rocky shore. "That," he said, pointing to the water, "will take them to the Anduin. And from there, to the sea…" "Eowyn! Eowyn!" shouted Legolas, his voice echoing around the cave, "Eowyn! Where are you?" He began striding towards the pool, but stopped, suddenly. The merman had risen out of the water. Gimli lifted his axe and Haldir drew his sword, but Berryn, mastering the fear that was threatening to paralyse him, stepped in front of them holding up both hands. "No! My lords," he gasped, "no! Lord Legolas, as her husband, must confront the merman alone. But beware of it, my lord," he said to Legolas, "-although it cannot speak, it can place thoughts in your mind and it will use them to deceive you…" Legolas stepped forward. "You have taken my wife against her will," he said, "Return her now!" The merman bared its teeth, and its voice filled Legolas' mind. She isss no longer your wife. She hasss lain with me and now she isss my mate. "You lie!" cried Legolas. The merman laughed. Sssee how she livesss now! And Legolas could see Eowyn, her legs transformed into a shimmering fishtail, swimming through corals and diving for pearls, laughing with her merman husband and playing with her mer-children. I have given her what you could not, hissed the merman. I have given her immortality. Asss my mate she will live forever. A sharp pain pierced Legolas' heart and he sank to his knees in despair. …

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: ningloreth

Status: General

Completion: Complete

Era: 4th Age

Genre: Drama

Rating: Adult

Last Updated: 01/14/11

Original Post: 07/24/04

Go to Time of the Orcs has come, The overview

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