23. Hide And Seek
Completely A.U. Legolas slave fic. This story was inspired by Bluegolds story "Bound", which can be found here: http://daemel.freespaces.com/authors.html#blue
I use similar plot ideas here with her permission.
Betareader: Many thanks to Surreysmum, who polished this and made it so much better! All still remaining errors are my own.
Warnings: Slash. M/m, BDSM, d/s, torture, toys, non-con and debatable consent. Very graphic descriptions. Special warnings for this chapter: none.
Please heed the warnings!
Disclaimer: Universe and characters are not mine, but Tolkien's. The idea of the spell, however, belongs to me. Some sentences of this chapter are directly lifted from the Book, albeit with little changes for my own purposes. They will be referenced with footnotes and an asterisk.* The correct quote is given in the footnotes.
Guide: Occasionally I work with flashback scenes. Here is a Guide:
// /flashback/ //; ************Time change within a flashback***********; "speech"; 'thoughts'
For all other warnings, other disclaimers and author's notes see Story Intro.
XXI. Hide And Seek
In the morning, Aragorn woke with empty arms. A little dismayed, he rose up on his elbows and looked around for his Elf. Had Legolas skipped waking Boromir for his turn of the watch again? Surely he had not been so dismayed over the pleasure staff that he had avoided their bedroll all night?
To his surprise, he found the Elf sitting close, nearly touching his head. Legolas was busy combing his long, silky hair, and as he met Aragorn's gaze he smiled at him. "Good morning, Estel," he greeted him, "did you sleep well?"
A bit astonished at the friendly tone, yet utterly delighted, Aragorn watched him a moment critically. Legolas seemed well, and apparently he had no problems sitting. Good! That meant their little bout of roughness yesterday had done no lingering harm! Yawning, then shaking off his sleepiness, Aragorn replied: "I did. Thank you!" Then he added inquiringly and a bit more quietly: "You seem up early, Little Leaf. Did you sleep at all last night?"
The Elf ducked his head a bit guiltily, but still he smiled. "I did," he answered, "Boromir refused to let me take his watch." He smiled wryly. "It seems the man of Gondor thinks that even Elves need to sleep sometimes, as well as Humans." He finished with his comb and began to braid his hair again swiftly and nimbly.
Aragorn snorted and cocked his head at him. "And he would not be wrong in that!" he said. "It is well he did not allow you to take his watch again. You need some rest, too, sometimes, you know!"
More gently and a little more quietly, he added in Silvain: "How fares your back?"
Legolas blushed – a quite becoming hue, Aragorn decided - and ducked his head again, but his smile remained. "It is well again, My Lord," he said, "you have been gentle!"
Then he suddenly and hesitantly reached out and touched Aragorn's head, almost tracing through his master's black hair.
He drew back again immediately, as if he had been burned, and looked down again. Blushing harder, and very shyly, he said: "I'm sorry, I didn't mean..." he trailed off.
Aragorn went very still. He knew precisely what had just happened. Normally, being his slave, it was not Legolas' place to initiate closeness and contact between them. He could invite it, or even ask for it; but normally, it was not his place to start touching his master, save when he had been ordered to do so, or if it was needed to help or aid him.
Of course, when they were alone in the wilds, and far away from Rivendell, neither of them would place much weight on that bit of protocol. Yet now they were not alone, and apparently Legolas was not sure how openly he was allowed to display affection in front of the Fellowship. And obviously, the memory of Rivendell was still fresh enough in Legolas' mind to make him hesitate in breaking protocol even in this little matter. Still... it had been some time since Legolas had been truly relaxed around his master, and dared to touch him without some kind of invitation, had it not?
Legolas' simple and unwary display of affection was something Aragorn missed keenly sometimes these days.
Reaching out and taking his slave's hand into his own, Aragorn brought it to his mouth and kissed the tapered fingers gently, then placed them against his cheek. "You're welcome to do that," he said. "You are welcome to touch me, Little Leaf."
Legolas looked at him, then he traced a moment over his face, blushing furiously. Carefully, he finally drew his hand back, but this time it was not in fear, just due to the fact they were not alone and the Fellowship was slowly rousing from sleep all around them.
Holding his gaze, the Elf said very solemnly: "Thank you! Thank you, Estel!"
He did not elaborate. He did not need to.
'Thank you for being gentle. Thank you for letting me heal. Thank you for waiting this long with taking me again. Thank you for keeping your promise.'
It was heartbreaking in the way how basic these things truly were, and yet how much it meant to his slave that Aragorn had kept to them.
Aragorn regarded him for a moment, the familiar slight grief in his eyes, but very tenderly.
"You are welcome," he reassured him again. Then he added quietly: "I thought I had you disappointed yesterday with that taer cant."
Legolas looked down. "I am sorry! I didn't mean--" he said, then shook his head. Solemnly he looked up again and met his master's eyes. "I've had some time to think," he said. "I was being stupid. I'm sorry, Estel. I should not have doubted your decision." He swallowed hard. "I-- I request--"
He could not quite bring himself to say it. Aragorn's finger found his mouth. His master laid his finger across his lips and stopped him.
"I am not angry, Little Leaf," Aragorn said. "It is well. I know you don't like it." He sighed. "It was not meant as punishment, or as a toy. Just a necessity."
Legolas looked up at him, surprised and grateful. He kissed the finger on his lips. Then he murmured solemnly again: "Thank you, Estel. You are gracious!"
Aragorn briefly caressed his cheeks, then he drew his hand back. He yawned again. "Now, is there any chance for breakfast?" he asked in Common, deliberately breaking the mood and returning to their official roles of 'comrades in the Fellowship', "and could I borrow your comb when you are done?"
Legolas drew back and regarded him with faked outrage, grateful for the lightening of the mood between them. "My comb?!" he answered in the same language, "in your hair?! When did you last wash it, scruffy human?"
Aragorn drew a grimace. "Not that old taunt again!" he protested. "I washed it at the same time as you did, prissy Elf! It is not my fault that your hair seems to keep silky by some strange magical means for much longer. Not fair, anyway, if you ask me..."
But he grinned broadly as he said it, to signal his slave he wasn't angry at the teasing, and he was delighted when Legolas snorted with feigned disgust and wrinkled his nose.
"Go wash yourself," the Elf said with a show of haughtiness, "then I will think about grooming your hair with my comb, and maybe help you shave that scruffy thing you call a beard into something more presentable, too!"
They were taken from their cheerful exchange of insults by a sharp "harrumph!" behind them, and turned.
"If the two of you are quite finished," the Dwarf said, looking down at them, "it is your turn today to get the water, Elf, if I recall correctly!"
Legolas glowered at him. "Didn't I take one of the watches, Master Dwarf?" he retorted, "I would think it was your turn--"
"I got the water yesterday," Gimli said with derision, "but if you regard yourself too well-bred to do simple chores, maybe one of the Hobbits--"
Legolas just glowered at him another moment, then he sighed and rose up. "I'll have to go, Estel," he said, "lest the Nogoth accuses me of 'skipping my chores' again. Even if I don't recall any agreement that made it his place to decide who was doing what among the Fellowship."
With that he stalked off. Aragorn rose, annoyed and angry.
"Legolas is right, Master Dwarf," he said quietly, "I don't recall it was your place to decide who should do which chores, either. How comes it that you are suddenly the one to give out orders?"
The Dwarf shrugged. "It is not as if it wouldn't do that Elf some good to do some lowly chores," he said, "instead of just watching and scouting. It's not as if he is anything better just because he is a haughty princeling."
Aragorn glowered at him.
"You have no idea of what you speak," he said quietly and angrily, "and it is certainly not my intention to cure you of your ignorance, son of Gloin. But Legolas has made an effort so far to keep the peace within this Fellowship, instead of reacting to your taunts, and so should you!" He glared at the Dwarf and added: "Or does this Quest means so little to you?"
Gimli straightened up. "You doubt my dedication to the Quest?!" he asked furiously.
"I doubt your willingness to keep the peace," Aragorn said. "Or why didn't you ask me to get the water? I did not take any watches last night!"
The Dwarf shrugged. "Now that you mention it..." he said nonchalantly and quite unperturbed, "somehow it did not even occur to me to ask you."
He bowed. "Now, if you would excuse me... I have some other things that need my attention."
And he turned and stalked off to the fireplace, where he busied himself with lighting the fire.
Aragorn followed him with his gaze, then he fought down his anger. He had heard Gimli's mutterings too often now not to know his argument by heart.
'It isn't you who has to make up for the first three days of laziness' were the words the Dwarf had not repeated just now, but had muttered often enough to anyone who would or wouldn't hear it, a persistent commentary on whatever Legolas did for them these last four days. And there was no way Aragorn could tell him how very far off the point and unfair that reasoning truly was.
Shaking his head in grim disgust, he knelt down to pack his and Legolas' bedrolls, then rose and stalked off to the stream to follow his Elf's suggestion about washing himself.
He missed the sharp and scrutinizing gaze which followed him.
Gimli nodded to himself, quite satisfied with his little experiment. So, the Elf would be shy to touch the Ranger first, but the Ranger would not hesitate to touch the Elf? And at the taunt about getting the water, the Elf would not jump up and confront him over his provocation, but rather avoid a direct contest, leaving the Ranger to protect him instead?
Curious! The behavior of these two seemed more odd to him with every passing day! Gimli did not feel he knew enough to solve this puzzle. But while he pretended to go about his own business, he did not cease to watch these two closely the whole morning, and indeed during the following days, either.
The Fellowship moved on. After a few more days, their luck changed. The terrain was now harder to move through, and the mountains were ever drawing nearer, and bent westwards, and about the feet of the main range there was a tumbled and ever wider land of bleak hills and deep valleys filled with turbulent waters(1).* All too often their paths lead them to the edge of sheer falls, or down to treacherous swamps, or through unstable ground.* It was on the tenth day since the start of their journey that Aragorn suddenly stopped and called to Gandalf. He also motioned to Legolas, who followed his gesture instantly.
The three of them squatted down together for a short, strained discussion.
"I do not like this," Aragorn said, "the terrain seems much changed to me since Legolas and I traveled here last. And that was just about an year ago."
Gandalf looked critically at the stony ground. "I agree," he said, "there seems to have been a landslide."
"They happen often here," Legolas offered. "The mountains are close, and in the spring the brooks carry much more water. Maybe--"
Aragorn drew a grimace. "Anyway, we cannot trust our memories any longer. We have to scout each leg of the path beforehand now, even if it means we have to slow down." He shook his head. "We can not risk falling into some gaps that may have opened, or triggering another landslide."
Gandalf looked up. "Very well. Then we will have to rest longer midday, and you and Legolas will have to scout ahead whenever possible. You two are the ones most familiar with this terrain," he decided. "I'm sorry that this will leave little opportunity to rest for you!"
Aragorn grimaced again. "Even less I like the fact that it will slow us down," he said, "but that cannot be helped now."
Legolas said nothing. He did not regret the chance to spend more time solely with his master, although he liked the Hobbits. But Aragorn seemed much more relaxed towards him when they were alone.
The Fellowship soon settled into the new routine. The Hobbits did not mind the longer midday rests, while Legolas or Aragorn, or sometimes both of them together, took swift scouting missions to decide the next part of the way.
But Gandalf and Boromir were troubled by their slowed pace, although for different reasons. Boromir was eager to go home, since he wished to resume his post as captain in the war and feared for his men; and secretly, he harbored the thought that the current company carried the weapon that might just change Gondor's luck in this war for good. The sooner they were back in Minas Tirith, the better; he did not mind at all Gandalf's decision a few days ago to travel through the Gap of Rohan.
Gandalf on the other hand was nervous about the loss of time, since he feared Saruman might use it to build his army further, and Sauron's minions would use it to regroup. The swifter the Fellowship would be, the better. He did not like the forced delay at all. And Gimli's openly voiced doubts of the competence of the Elven member of the Fellowship to scout the ground for a sure path through landslides wasn't helping, either. The growing strain between the Elf and Dwarf was a matter of constant disquiet, especially since Aragorn seemed to take Gimli's attacks on his Elven companion personally.
The wizard saw it with concern. The sooner they left this stage of the journey behind and reached Hollin, the better!
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Unfortunately, Legolas' hopes that the time spent solely with his master would improve Aragorn's mood and his indulgence were in vain. Aragorn seemed in much distress these days, and more grim and terse than Legolas had seen him for some time. It did not help that their scouting missions proved to be taxing and treacherous indeed and there was hardly time even to steal a kiss or two while they searched for the best path for the company and for any signs of creatures of the enemy. They were swift, and concentrated on the task ahead, and so there was no opportunity to use the time alone to lie together or to feed the spell again.
It didn't matter, though. There was still time until the necessity would arise again. Or so Legolas thought, at least.
Therefore he was surprised when after the second day of their scouting, his master commanded him to accompany him for another 'look around' after they made camp in the evening.
Legolas obeyed, but with much apprehension. Aragorn had had an quiet, but heated exchange with Boromir that day. He did not look forward to what his master would do to him in such a mood.
Still, he had no choice but to follow his command.
They were barely out of earshot when Aragorn grabbed him and drew him into a crushing embrace, taking his mouth in a demanding kiss. Then, without further preliminaries, he buried his mouth in Legolas' neck and bit down, causing him to gasp.
It took long moments until Aragorn finally drew back again, yet he did not relent his bruising grip on this slave's arms.
"Do you know how frustrating it is to be alone with you for hours without the chance for much of anything?" he asked. "I want you, Little Leaf, I want you now! Undress!!"
Legolas swallowed at the harsh command. Eyes wide as saucers, he dared to say: "But-- My Lord--the others--" He did not continue. Aragorn had to know the camp was far too close. They would risk to be interrupted by anyone going to relieve himself. Besides... "And it isn't bad yet," he dared to protest. "Estel--"
Aragorn grabbed his hair, harshly, and yanked. The Elf stared at him in sudden pain and fear. He opened his mouth to say something more, then thought better of it and just swallowed.
Aragorn held his hair uncompromisingly in his grip and stepped close. "I did not give you leave to argue!" he snarled. "You will obey! Now!"
Shivering, Legolas nodded – grimacing at the pain the nod caused due to his master's unyielding grip in his hair - and Aragorn let go of him and allowed him to take a step back. With glittering eyes, he watched as Legolas began to loosen the straps of his quiver --
-- but suddenly, the Elf stopped and whirled around, knives drawn in an instant.
For a moment, Aragorn was just annoyed, then well-honed instinct took over, and he dropped into a fighting stance, drawing his sword. "What is it, Little Leaf?" he whispered.
Yet there was no need for Legolas to explain, for in the next moment, he could hear the noise himself, and it took only moments until the Dwarf emerged from he bushes.
"Oh," Gimli made with faked surprise, "you are back already? That seems to have been a short scouting trip indeed!" He did not bother to hide his satisfaction that he had disturbed them.
For a moment, Legolas thought his master would strangle the Dwarf, or just run him through; but then Aragorn sheathed his sword again and rolled his eyes. "No, we were just starting, Master Dwarf," he said. "Did you wish to join us?"
Legolas ducked his head while he sheathed his own weapons and fastened the straps of his harness again. Having to endure the Dwarf stumbling around in their wake?! That was all they needed. But maybe Aragorn thought to lead him to that ledge...
He shook his head and banished his treacherous thought. He would not kill any member of the Fellowship, not even the Dwarf. He would not! Nor would Aragorn. Even if the thought was really tempting...
To his relief, Gimli shook his head. "Me?" he retorted, "No! I am just looking for firewood. The Hobbits decided we need more, and so I and Merry and Pippin volunteered to find some." He smiled politely. "But don't be restrained by me. I'm sure you have yet much ...scouting... left to do, tonight."
Legolas saw his master's face and decided that maybe Aragorn would kill the Dwarf after all. There was no chance Aragorn could take Legolas tonight without having to fear that any of the Hobbits – or the Dwarf – would find an excuse to stumble over them.
Still, Aragorn remained admirably calm. "As you say, Master Dwarf," he said. "Legolas? Are you coming?"
Without a further look at the annoying Nogoth, Legolas followed. They were quite some distance away when Aragorn turned back to him. This time, his master's grip around his shoulders was more gentle, and he drew the slave in a tight embrace.
For a moment, Aragorn was content just to savor the feel of his slave against his body.
"Maybe it's good we were disturbed, Little Leaf," he finally said. "I'm not sure I was entirely myself back there. And you were right; it was too close to the camp."
Legolas sighed and returned the embrace, glad the moment of harshness had passed and equally glad of the shared closeness. "You mean-- the Ring--?" he dared to ask.
Aragorn nodded. "I have hungered for you this whole day," he said, "but that is no excuse. Even without Gimli's determination to pester us, we could have been discovered. I'm sorry."
He fingered longingly through his slave's golden tresses. "It is just hard to be so close to you and not to have you," he said. "I grow very frustrated."
"Estel," Legolas began, "we can't--"
Aragorn sighed. He kissed him. When he finished the kiss he said: "I know! And I could strangle that Nogoth for that. But tomorrow is another night. Maybe we can find some time to sneak off, then."
Legolas relaxed into his kiss, then let himself savor the tender petting. "It isn't bad yet," he nevertheless dared to say. "There is still time..."
Aragorn's grip on his shoulder tightened a bit and he bowed his head. "I'm sorry, master," he corrected himself. "I didn't mean--"
Aragorn tucked a braid out of the way and bit gently into his ear, starting to nibble, and Legolas had to stop and swallow a moan. He could feel Aragorn smile at his reaction.
Finally, his master let go of his ear and kissed his neck. "I think I may like to take you sometimes just for my own pleasure, Little Leaf," he said, "even if the spell does not demand it."
Legolas blushed and ducked his head. "I'm sorry, master," he said, quite subdued. "I request--"
Aragorn silenced him with a kiss. "Don't tempt me," he warned then in a good-natured growl. "I might take you up on it! But seriously, Little Leaf, the terrain is growing more dangerous by the day, and soon we might actually find ourselves hunted by the enemy. I would prefer to take you often, so when we do find ourselves under strain and there is no more time to feed the spell, you won't be in need."
Legolas nodded. He was glad that there would be no punishment tonight. And of course Aragorn's reasoning was sound enough. Still...
"Is this what had you so bothered these last few days?" he dared to ask.
Aragorn drew a grimace. "Never mind," he said. "You aren't the only one having trouble keeping the voice of that thing out of your head."
But he did not elaborate. He shook his head and would not say more. Instead he withdrew and stepped back. "Now, let us go before our dear Master Dwarf just happens to stumble over us again," he said. "I suggest you take the circle south around the camp, I take the circle north, and we meet back at the fire, later. And do not take one of the watches tonight," he warned as an afterthought. "This day was taxing enough. You need your rest!"
Legolas gave his master a deep bow and then turned to take the way he was commanded. They met just half an hour later back in the camp, and by then the Dwarf wasn't back yet. It was with some satisfaction that Legolas heard Gimli finally return, muttering and cursing into his beard, nearly an hour later. Obviously, the Nogoth had got lost in his little pestering mission, and found himself hard pressed to retrace his tracks and make it back. Legolas could not say that he felt sorry for him. Shortly afterwards, he slipped into peaceful elven dreams.
But Aragorn's dreams that night were anything but peaceful.
The Fellowship hunted by the enemy; warg voices howling in the air, shadows circling over them, no time to rest, to stop, to sneak away at night or even by day just for a few minutes... Legolas, squirming in pain, in need, trembling, crying for his master... too weak to go on, grey in the face, the dark strains on his flesh ever growing, until they reach even his neck and face... the normally clear, blue eyes filmed over, unseeing... Gandalf, face laced in sorrow, telling him they'll have to leave the Elf behind...
-- This time it was Aragorn's turn to wake up, swallowing a scream, trembling and sweating. He looked around. It was just two hours past midnight, there were still a few hours until morning. Beside him, Legolas rose up on his elbows and looked inquiringly at him.
He looked back at his reassuringly alive and healthy Elf for a moment, then he just shook his head and motioned him to snuggle close. Legolas returned his gaze with a clear question, but when no explanation was forthcoming he just nodded and obeyed. Aragorn enfolded him in his arms and held him fast. Slowly, his trembling ebbed.
It was a long time, though, until he dared to slip into an uneasy sleep again, and much too soon afterwards dawn found them.
___________________ 0 __________________
The following night, their luck wasn't any better. This time, Aragorn chose to find a place well out of earshot and a good, healthy walk away from the camp. Still, before they had gone further than a few kisses and just as Legolas was kneeling before his master and had discarded his quiver, the Elf froze and turned in the direction of the camp.
Aragorn froze too, eyes flashing in anger. "Please don't tell me--" he began, but in the same moment he could hear the approaching noise himself. In an instant, Legolas was on his feet, quiver buckled back on, and had unslung and strung his bow. Then he turned, arrow notched and trained on the very spot where mere seconds later the Dwarf emerged.
The Nogoth stopped at the sight of the pointed arrow. Still, he had the considerable nerve to say with faked outrage: "Oi, Master Elf! It's just me! Take care who you point your arrow at!"
In the next moment, though, he swallowed hard and went very still as a sword suddenly rested against his throat.
"You were right, Legolas," the flat voice of the Ranger said, "it was no Orc who was stumbling through the bushes here. Although it certainly made enough noise to be mistaken for one!"
His voice sounded grim and distinctly annoyed, and Gimli began to get seriously nervous, the more since he could not see the Man.
Paling and somewhat subdued, Gimli said: "Stay your sword, Master Ranger! I am no enemy, although that Elf seems to have trouble seeing the difference."
Legolas merely raised a brow. Yet it was Aragorn who answered. "It may have to do something with your demeanor, Master Dwarf," he said. "Now, what are you doing this far from the camp? Your noise would be enough to draw every enemy around upon us, if there are such lurking in the area. You do remember that this mission is firstly about secrecy?"
Gimli flushed. "I was merely looking to relieve myself," he growled. "Now, if you kindly would remove that sword of yours--"
The sword did not leave his throat. It did not even waver. Instead, the flat voice of the Ranger asked: "This far from the camp? You took quite a walk just to hit the bushes, Master Dwarf!"
Gimli sputtered. Of course he could not openly admit he had been deliberately following them, albeit they knew as well as him that this was precisely what he had been doing. Finally, he drawled:
"Merry and Pippin have this silly game of 'accidentally' stumbling over others who go for the bushes just to embarrass them. I thought if I went far enough away--" He stopped. "Anyway, I hardly believe I need to justify myself to you!" he added belligerently. "Now, either you remove your sword, or you take a step back and give me time to draw my axe so I can relieve you of it!"
The sword didn't move. "Wrong, Master Dwarf," the Ranger grimly said. "If you endanger the others with your behaviour, you will find that I hold you accountable for it! And if you draw the enemy to us by stumbling through the dark, making such a racket, then that is exactly what you are doing!"
The sword pressed closer for a moment, and Gimli paled a bit more.
Legolas, who was watching the proceedings, was undecided if Aragorn would finally give in to the temptation and relieve the Dwarf of his head, or not. His master looked every bit as if he was going to give in to the allurement.
Then Aragorn finally removed the sword and sheathed it.
"Come, Legolas," he said, "if there were any creatures of the enemy around, they would have certainly been upon us by now. Let us circle the camp and then return."
With that he turned. Legolas' arrow, which had been pointing to the ground during his master's lengthy discussion with the Dwarf, suddenly was trained on the Nogoth again.
Gimli considered his options. Every ounce of pride he possessed urged him to attack the Ranger. Still... there was the arrow of the Elf. And besides, the Ranger was a member of the Fellowship, and as little as Gimli liked him, he would not go as far as attacking him. Yet. So, he simply gave another noncommittal "harrumph!" and waited until both the Ranger and the Elf disappeared into the bushes, before he turned and went back to their camp again.
________________ o ________________
Legolas followed his master's way through the terrain surrounding their camp. Aragorn's face was grim and dark with anger. Still, the Adan made no other attempt at intimacy. Obviously, the mood for that had been destroyed quite thoroughly, and besides, they could not be sure they would not be disturbed again. Finally, when they had made a full circle around the camp, Aragorn stopped and enfolded his Elf within his arms again.
"I nearly was about to kill that Dwarf," he said. "Legolas--"
The Elf's arms came up around him. Legolas hugged him back.
The Elf could feel his master tremble with harshly checked wrath. "I thought you would," he dared to say. "My Lord--"
Aragorn shook his head, and Legolas trailed off.
"I know. We can't," he said. "Not here, and not now." He paused for a moment. "This is not working, Little Leaf. We'll have to find another way," he added then. "I'll think of something."
But he did not elaborate, and he did not even steal another kiss. Instead he simply let go of his slave and took a step back, then turned and went back to the camp. Legolas followed him. He did not dare to say another word. He was very subdued.
Aragorn was in a terrible mood tonight.
Legolas could not imagine that this fact boded well for the coming day.
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-- TBC --
(1) This sentence and the following – with a few changes necessary for my own purpose – are directly lifted from J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, 1954, Harper Collins Paperback Edition 1995, P. 275. The original quote reads: "South of Rivendell they (the mountains, A.C.) rose ever higher, and bent westwards; and about the feet of the main range there was tumbled and ever wider land of bleak hills and deep valleys filled with turbulent waters. Paths were few and winding, and let them often only to the edge of some sheer fall, or down into treacherous swamps."