10. Voices in the Dark
“We should split up,” Legolas repeated insistently, breaking into the dwarf’s thoughts.
Gimli shook his head stubbornly, as he had the past five times the elf had suggested it. “As I have now said enough times to have pounded it into even your flighty skull, Master Elf, that would create more problems than solve.”
“We could cover more ground faster.”
“Ay,” Gimli agreed with a snort, “and then when one of us found the lad, he would have to try to find the other, lost somewhere in these confounding tunnels.” The dwarf was getting fed up; he was impressed that Legolas would have the courage to wander alone through the dark warren, even for Eldarion, but that it was a brave idea did not necessarily mean it was a good idea. “That would waste even more time, and if we wonder in opposite directions…”
He did not want to frighten his friend, but he had to somehow convince Legolas of the dangers inherent in separating. If that meant the he had to scare him a little, he did not like it, but he would do it. “Besides,” he said quickly, not wanting his friend to dwell on his last comment, even if it had been necessary, “Eldarion may be difficult to reach, and it could well require the both of us to extricate him.”
He heard Legolas sigh with frustration behind him, and grinned. “And where has the legendary patience of the elves gone?” he teased his friend, trying to keep their spirits up in the darkness.
“It has been smothered by this rock,” Legolas snapped back.
Gimli fell silent, and the proceeded down the confining tunnel without words. He had wanted only to lighten their spirits, not draw a shadow upon his friend by reminding the elf of how difficult it was to be down here.
“I am sorry,” Legolas apologized after a space. “I did not mean to be so harsh. The cave…presses on me; I did not speak falsely, it truly has sapped my patience.”
“I know,” Gimli replied softly. “I am sorry to have made light of it.”
“Then as we are both most sorry creatures indeed, perhaps we could put it from our minds,” Legolas suggested with a much lighter tone of voice.
Gimli smiled slightly. “Perhaps even elves can occasionally show wisdom,” he admitted.
“And perhaps even dwarves can occasionally recognize it.”
Gimli grinned; he had succeeded in spite of himself in cheering his friend, it seemed. Pleased with himself, the dwarf continued forward with a slightly faster step. As long as they could find Eldarion soon—he forced himself to continue ignoring his worry for the young prince; if he thought about his fears, he would loose the concentration and calmness so necessary to his endeavor—they would be all right.
He swallowed; Aulë, let the boy be unharmed, Gimli silently pleaded.
Eldarion woke to throbbing pain. He groaned and instantly regretted it as the pain in his head spiked for a moment. He started shivering, although the movement aggravated his headache almost as much as his moan had. It was so cold! He wrapped his arms tightly around himself, trying not to let his teeth chatter—he had a feeling that would be painful for his aching skull.
The boy closed his eyes (not that it made a difference in this darkness) and tried to center himself as his father had taught him. Eldarion was an apt pupil, but his lessons were only in the beginning stages and were never intended to handle such a situation—not yet. He breathed slowly and evenly, as adar had taught him, listening only to the soft sound the air made as he inhaled and exhaled. He frowned slightly; something wasn’t right. Why was he repeating his name? That wouldn’t help. Adar had never told him that it would help him to—
The boy’s eyes shot open and he tried to shoot to his feet but the rocks on his legs, forgotten in excitement, prevented him. He wasn’t repeating his name; someone else was! It was so faint he could hardly hear it, even with his exceptionally sharp ears, but he knew it had to be his uncles.
“Uncle Legolas!” he screamed as loud as he could, trusting that elven hearing would have no problem catching his voice if he could make out theirs. “I’m here! Uncle Legolas! Uncle Gimli! I’m here!” He listened closely, straining his ears, but could hear no answering call. He held his breath; they had to have heard him—they had to!
Suddenly Legolas stopped, his hand slipping free of the dwarf’s shoulder. Gimli turned to scold him, but the elf pressed a hand to his friend’s lips to keep him silent. He closed his eyes—it made no difference in the darkness, but it helped him concentrate—and listened. There it was again!
“Gimli, I hear him!”
“What? Where?” the dwarf exclaimed.
“This way,” Legolas cried, grabbing Gimli’s hand to pull him after him. “Hurry!”
“Wait—Legolas—you don’t know where you’re going—” he tried to protest.
“Eldarion!” Legolas called, ignoring his friend. “We hear you! We’re coming!”
Eldarion sagged with relief. He couldn’t make out words exactly, but he had heard the cry. “I’m over here! Uncles! Over here!” He continued to shout, knowing his friends would need something to follow to find him, but he hardly felt his head’s protests at the noise.
He’d known everything would be fine. Legolas and Gimli would be here soon. His uncles would never let anything happen to him.
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.