2. Chapter 2:
This is with thanks to Dwimmordene who writes on the HASA site, wonderful stories. It is her fic, Lie Down in Darkness, Rise up from the Ashes that inspired this story.
Eomer slept that night. He thought it must be night because the torch was spent and had not been rekindled, that was all. He felt his long limbs heavy with sleep and peace. His dreams were all long grass and huge empty skies. Horses' hooves drumming on the sun baked earth. When he awoke he stretched languorously. And smiled. It was like he had … well, he suddenly squashed that thought and almost blushed.
A squeal and a crunch brought him awake suddenly and aware. He glanced over to the next cell. The elf was standing, looking at something in his hand. He held the tail of a rat dangling. He turned his face slightly towards Eomer in the dim light that told him it was day, and smiled –showing his teeth. 'It is not true,' he said 'that elves love all Yavannah's creation.' He threw the rat carcass away from his cell.' I do not like being nibbled upon'. Wiping his hands fastidiously, he turned away sharply.'Ah.' he said simply. 'They come.'
Eomer was on his feet in an instant; his hand automatically went to his hip and felt empty. Grasping the bars he watched as the thin shaft of daylight pierced the gloom and the shapes of his hated enemies emerged. Instantly his hatred flared and his muscles tensed.
'They will torture you,' he said, anxiety bubbling in his stomach. 'How can you resist? He will force you to say things that are not true and then he will kill you. Legolas.' he turned his anguished face towards the elf. 'I am sorry. I am sorry I brought you here.'
'Eomer, I will see the king.' Legolas whispered. 'Do not fear. There is time enough for this to turn…have faith. The Song changes.' And then, he laughed – a ridiculously bright and merry sound to be in this cold place.
Eomer thought for the second time, he had gone mad. He and the elf both- he had no choice really but to do as he was bid. The other way was unbearable. So he laughed too- a sort of choked hysteria, he thought.
Lamplight warmed the cold cells and long shadows threw themselves against the walls and disappeared into the dark. Rough voices, voices not of riders but of Grima's servants- bitter, mean spirited men who would never have been warriors of the Mark, who previously eked out an existence on the fringes of the kingdom, who had no place …but now had power. They had obviously been bolstering each other with proud boasts of their prowess –for they approached the cells boldly and with loud voices, hard and rough, drawing swords and knives, cudgels and pikes. They were tense with the anticipation of violence, lustful with it.
The guard turned the key in the lock and the lock clicked. Grima stood to one side, watching, his thin lips stretched in anticipation. Imperceptibly, the air seemed to shift slightly, like a shimmer of heat and was gone. But swords, cudgels wavered and stilled.
Within the cell's dark and narrow walls, the elf warrior stood. Alert, poised and muscles tense. Breathing relaxed and steady.
Eomer could see the men ringed around the cell, wanting to but yet fearing to go in. He looked at them, and picked out the nearest of Grima's henchmen to him, he thought that he could reach around and throttle the man, grab his weapon and…the door scraped open grudgingly.
Nervously, the henchmen filtered in, swords, weapons, pike at the ready- a forest of steel pointed at the elf.
'I have so looked forward to this,' Grima rubbed his thin hands together. 'You have no idea!' He bared his teeth. And Legolas bared his back. 'Please…do come this way,. With exaggerated courtesy, the councillor swept his hand before Legolas, indicating the dark corridor.
Eomer waited, hands itching to grab the marked henchman and wrest his knife. But Legolas breathed slowly out and walked out of the cell. Eomer gaped. The henchmen fell nervously back, weapons brandished and crouched slightly.
Grima simply smiled unpleasantly. 'I have here a confession from you.'
'Really.' Legolas seemed politely interested.' And what am I confessing?'
'Oh, you are a spy of the Witch,' Grima waved his hand dismissively. 'You seek to enthrall the king, to lead the men of Rohan into a foolish alliance with the Witch, and to lead them into a reckless charge against our ally, Saruman.'
Legolas held out his hand for the pen. 'Change but a few words, and I will sign this' he said. 'For it is all true.'
Grima narrowed his eyes. 'It is true? Are you so brazen?'
The elf shrugged. 'Why would I deny what is true? Take me before your king, charge me with whatever you intend to charge me with and let him decide.'
Grima paused to consider. This could be a useful demonstration of his power over Théoden, to bring the elf before the king and have him publicly denounce him as a spy. There had to be a catch.
He looked at the tall elf, standing before him. And was suddenly caught in the strange fey gaze, that stripped him to the bone, that saw his shriveled heart and his fear. Yes, his fear. And understood him. He opened his eyes wide and for a moment, he remembered something, long ago, when he was young and believed he could be the man he wanted to be. He could almost believe… and then the Voice stirred within him, and he recoiled, clenching his fists. He stepped back as if struck; how he had yearned to be as his father was, and the sore wounds of his failure. Then, the Voice uncoiled and hissed deep in his chest.
'Stop! Stop him!' He shook his head suddenly. He raised his fist to strike the elf but his wrist was caught by an iron grip.
For a minute, everything seemed frozen. Eomer had seen his hated enemy stare at the elf, his eyes widening first in fear, then in recognition, then suddenly pain had flickered across Grima's face and he raised his fist screaming. The elf had caught Grima's hand as he struck, and suddenly pandemonium. A cudgel was brought heavily down on Legolas' arm, a punch in his stomach winded him and a sword scraped from its sheath and without thought, thrust forwards into the body of the elf. He collapsed to his knees without a sound. Eomer and Grima both surged forwards with a cry.
And then everything was still.
'You fools!' Grima screamed. 'Pick him up- does he live? I will have you killed for this- who did it? Is he alive? Tell me, you fools!'
One man had bent to check, while others looked from one to the other, confused and afraid.
Grima pushed the men aside and he stopped to feel at the elf's throat. He breathed.
' He lives. Send for a healer, dolts! You have nearly brought all my plans to nothing! You will pay for this.' He whirled around glaring at them, 'Get a healer I tell you. Now- go!' He pushed one of the men towards the door and he stumbled away. Grima furiously pointed to one of the men. 'Get him on a bed. You- get clean blankets and water. Bring that torch here!'
Blood quickly soaked the cloths Grima held to the wound. One of the men tried to tie a rough tourniquet but it was clear he did not know enough to be effective.
'Wormtongue!' Eomer shouted over the mayhem, 'Let me out. I can help.' He saw the suspicious look in the other's eye. 'Every warrior knows basic healing, if you had ever been on the field yourself you would know.'
Grima looked at him briefly, and then nodded to one of his men.
Eomer pushed Grima aside and took the cloths from him. Carefully he looked at the wound. Legolas looked at him through half closed eyes, breathing hard, he murmured in a language Eomer thought must be his own. The man's fingers quickly tore the fabric of his clothes to reveal the wound, sliced clean through skin and muscle, its edges were neat and the muscles pierced. The elf's eyelashes fluttered, he hissed suddenly, and thick crimson blood welled from the cut. It looked bad and must hurt like hell, thought Eomer, but he thought it had not pierced any organs, and would heal given time and care. But there did seem to be a lot of blood. Crimson, dark it soaked everything. That was his main concern. Too much blood. He carefully pressed just above the wound to slow down the bleeding. He felt sure a few stitches were all that were needed except the bleeding would not stop. He worried though, about the pallor of the elf's skin and his shallow breathing. It was taking too long for someone to come, for someone who knew what he was doing.
Suddenly he was pushed aside and another took his place. A healer replaced him, a woman. He frowned. He could not remember her name but he knew her –she had been with Eowyn when he was arrested.
'Go all of you and leave me to my work please' she said, quite firm. 'I know not what has happened here and nor do I wish to. But I cannot work with you breathing down my neck.' She glared at them all. 'Lord Grima, I assume you want this man saved? If so, then give me room to breathe, if not, stop wasting my time and let me go back to my work.'
The men fell back, most going out of the small cell.
'You,' the healer commanded Eomer, 'Hold that lamp over here…No! Like this!' She scowled at him, grabbing his hand and bringing it nearer. The woman busied herself for a few minutes more and then began dressing and stitching the wound. She glanced occasionally at the elf's pale face, clucking her tongue and pressing her hand to his forehead. He moved his head slightly when she pinched the skin and began stitching but he let his head fall back onto the hard bed, eyes closed.
No one spoke, all gazed anxiously on. One of the men shifted uncomfortably but shrank back when Grima turned a fierce glare on him.
A little while later, she started tidying away. She gathered up soiled cloths and the basin of water that had been brought at some point, Eomer could not remember. She glared at Eomer, scowled at Grima and gave the soldiers a look of immense disapproval. 'He will need to be cared for. Dressings changed, clean water-lots, make him drink it even if he doesn't want to, and proper food … that is, IF you want him to recover.' Then she flounced her skirts and pushed her way between the soldiers who had now gathered around the cell door.
'Put the traitors in together' Grima ordered. His face was a mixture of loathing and fear. 'You can look after him,' he told Eome. 'See he doesn't die.' He glanced down at Legolas' face, pale and still. 'He is no good to me dead. Not yet.'
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.