9. Dwarven Battle Cries
The next morning brought bright sunshine, but highly disgruntled dwarves, though they looked more like hobbits without their beards. The braids had been cut and hung from the trees around them before the elves had shaved the beards. This alone was a severe insult, yet an appropriate response considering what Legolas had been put through. Gimli had a hard time looking at his brothers and could not look any of them in the eye. He had agreed to this course of action, and the dishonor brought on his kin was painful to see. But he reminded himself of their dishonorable actions and resigned himself to distance himself from them. Until the beards grew back in, his brothers could not be considered kin, but outsiders.
Goran, Arden and Gori were angry and afraid. They demanded to know what they were being held captive for. One of the elves, Gelmir by name, stepped before them and spoke to them with anger and contempt filling his voice.
"You attacked our prince, insulted him, and accused him of crimes he did not commit! You are being taken to King Thranduil for justice to be meted out. You will soon find just how foolish your actions have been!"
The dwarves' eyes shone with fear. Gimli noted that many of the elves had to hide smiles, for Gelmir was known for being a kind, gentle and soft spoken soul. Gimli laughed when one elf whispered that they would have to consider Gelmir for the next play; he obviously had untapped acting talent. A sharp look from Legolas got their thoughts back to the job at hand.
As the elves packed up the hastily prepared camp, making sure to leave the clearing exactly as it had been found, an elf woman entered the clearing. Gimli recognized Lady Lainel at once. She glided over to Legolas, a smile on her face.
"Has Amluchen been returned to his rightful place?" Legolas asked. Lainel nodded then glanced at the beardless dwarves.
"Was that really necessary, Daeradar?" she asked with a raised brow. Truly, that expression reminded him too much of Cellinn!
Legolas smiled, "Yes, dear one, it was. Now remember to play your part or I’ll be tempted to remove those long locks of yours as well." He gave his granddaughter a small, teasing smile, and reached out to tug a lock of dark hair. Lainel only laughed at his banter.
A throat was cleared behind them. "The ‘prisoners’ are ready to be taken to the palace, Adar."
Legolas turned to his youngest son, but as he turned he heard faint warnings coming from the trees. "Very well, Tirn, let us be off quickly. The trees speak of danger in the forest."
Lowering his voice, he added, "Make sure the dwarves can be freed quickly if necessary and access to their axes is provided if needed. I will not allow this prank to lead to bloodshed should we be attacked. Advise all to be on the alert for any signs."
Tirn nodded and turned to speak to pass on the instruction as Legolas scanned the trees for any sign of danger. Soon they were all on the move.
Gimli had watched Legolas nervously since they had set out. Something was troubling his friend. He hoped the elf wasn’t feeling guilty about what had been done. Moving forward, pushing through the elves, he came to his friend’s side.
Glancing up as they walked through the trees, he had ever intention of asking what had Legolas so troubled.
Legolas spoke before he could open his mouth, however. "The trees speak of dark creatures coming towards us. If we move quickly, we should intercept one of the patrols who can then escort us to the palace."
Blast that elf! He’d done it again! Mind reader, that’s what he was!
Legolas had spoken quietly, pitching his voice so no one else could hear, and it struck Gimli that there was something in the elf’s voice — something he had not said and a shiver ran down his spine.
"But you expect we won’t make it that far?" Gimli spoke with conviction.
"No," Legolas’ voice was resigned. "We will most likely be cut off from the palace and patrols in less than an hour."
The sound of bows, blades and axes filled the clearing where elves, dwarves and a band of orcs fought furiously. Outnumbered, several of the elves, including Lainel, took to the trees with their bows to reduce the numbers of orcs that streamed into the clearing where they fought. Cries rang out and the sound of blades hitting flesh was sickening.
Legolas and Gimli fought back to back where they could, but often were driven apart by the onslaught of the battle. Gimli’s brothers, freed long before they were ever overtaken, were fighting bravely, the loss of their beards not lessening their fierceness in battle.
Over the clamor and din, a cry rang above all others, and Legolas spun towards the noise. It was the sound of an injured dwarf!
Not ten feet from him lay Arden, a large gash made by an orc blade deep in his thigh. The orc stood over him, blade raised to finish the job. Legolas instinctively threw one of his blades towards the orc.
Arden was in a lot of pain. The blade had bitten deeply into his Leg and he had collapsed, unable to stand. Knowing the end had arrived, he begged Mahal for forgiveness and closed his eyes, prepared to die.
A thump beside him caused him to snap them back open. There on the ground next to him was a dead orc, an elven blade buried to the hilt in the creature's throat.
Arden glanced up and found Legolas not far from him, and reduced to one blade. The elf saved my life? Then he saw the orc sneaking up behind the elf. He cried a warning, but it was too late. A blade swung out and another cry filled the air, only this time the cry came from an elf.
Gimli finished the orc before him as he heard his friend’s cry of pain. He turned and ran in the direction from whence it came. What he found was an orc standing over the bloody body of his friend, and he cried out in fury and grief.
His bellow was echoed by two other dwarven battle cries. Gimli’s brothers had seen what the elf had done for Arden. The orc never stood a chance.
To Be Continued…
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.