Of UNO and Thunderstorms

Chapter 40

Of UNO and Thunderstorms

DISCLAIMER: I DO NOT OWN LORD OF THE RINGS OR ANYTHING ELSE THAT I REFERENCE! NATALIE AND FRANCESCXA OWN THEMSELVES RESPECTIVELY! I ONLY OWN MYSELF AND MY OCS!

Chapter Thirty Nine

Olympia's POV

It was a long and very uneventful ride to Dunharrow. So naturally, I was relieved when we rode into the camp with King Theoden a few days after leaving Edoras. Everyone stopped and stared as we rode into camp and I was reminded of when Gimli, Aragorn, Legolas, Kate, Gandalf and I first arrived in Rohan. I fidgeted in the saddle. Have I mentioned that I hate being the center of attention?

"Grimbold, how many?" King Theoden asked as we rode through the camp.

"I bring five hundred men from the Westfold, my lord." One of the soldiers answered.

"We have three hundred more from Fenmarch, Theoden King." Another soldier stated.

"This. Is. Sparta!" Natalie whispered in my ear. I bit back a laugh and nudged her with my elbow.

"Where are the riders from Snowbourn?" King Theoden asked.

"None have come, my lord." Someone stated. That doesn't sound good. I thought.

We then rode into camp and began to unpack our horses. As we moved around the camp, I felt everyone's confused stares on Natalie, Kate, Legolas, Gimli and I. I rolled my eyes and ignored them. It's like they've never seen Elves before! Granted, they probably haven't seen Elves, let alone Dwarves, before. But still! I don't like the staring. I thought, shifting uncomfortably.

After unpacking, we didn't have anything to do, so Kate, Legolas, Gimli and I just wandered around. Natalie had elected to stay behind and set up our stuff in the tents we were being lent. I noticed several horses getting a bit antsy and nervous and that the men were having trouble calming them down.

"The horses are restless, and the men are quiet." Legolas observed as we came up to Éomer, who was saddling his own horse.

"They grow nervous in the shadow of the mountain." Éomer replied, nodding towards a path that led into the mountains nearby. The Paths of the Dead. I thought, shuddering internally. No wonder the horses are flipping out.

"That road there. Where does that lead?" Gimli asked, nodding towards the path.

"It is the road to the Dimholt, the door under the mountain." Legolas answered.

"None who venture there ever return." Éomer added, looking back from the mountain to us. "That mountain is evil." He concluded, walking away.

After making a failed attempt at calming our own horses down, Legolas, Kate and I all went back to the tents the Rohirrim were lending us. Legolas and Gimli were sharing one, Aragorn had one to himself somewhere, and Kate, Natalie and I were sharing a third.

Kate and I walked into our tent and found Natalie there, sitting on her blanket and staring off into space. Her eyes were red and puffy and she had a faraway look in her eyes. It didn't take a genius to figure out that she'd been crying. Kate and I exchanged worried looks and went to sit on either side of our friend. Natalie sniffled and wiped her eyes on her sleeve.

"Hey, what's wrong?" Kate asked. Natalie jumped slightly upon realizing we were there. She sniffled again.

"Nothing." She assured us. Her voice cracked and I arched an eyebrow at her.

"You want to rephrase that line of crap?" I asked. Natalie laughed humorlessly.

"Now, what's wrong? Really this time." Kate pressed. Natalie didn't give a verbal answer. She curled up and started to cry. Seeing my friend like this, I think my heart shattered into a million pieces. I looked at Kate and saw in her eyes the same realization and sorrow that I felt. We nodded to each other and wrapped Natalie up in a hug. I bit my lip in an attempt to stop my own tears from falling.

"Shh. It's okay Natalie. You'll be alright." Kate whispered. Natalie sniffled.

"I miss Boromir." She hiccupped. Her voice sounded small and broken. It was so unlike her to be that way. Normally she was such a strong, confident person.

No amount of chomping on my lip or sheer force of willpower could have stopped the tears in that moment. I cried. Not only did I cry for Boromir's death, but I cried for my friend who had fallen in love with him. He hadn't deserved to die, and Natalie didn't deserve the hell it was putting her through.

"I'm going to go get us some food, okay?" I eventually found my voice again. Natalie nodded and sniffled. I got up and quickly went outside to find some food. I wiped my tears on my sleeve and accidently bumped into Legolas.

"Sorry." I gave him a weak smile.

"It is alright. Olympia, what is wrong?" Legolas asked, probably taking note of the fact that my eyes were now red and puffy.

"Natalie's not doing too well at the moment. She misses Boromir and had a meltdown just now. I'm going to get her some food and Kate and I are going to try to make her feel better." I whispered to Legolas. Legolas gave me a hug.

"You are a good friend for being there for Natalie now, when she needs you." Legolas told me. I forced another smile.

"Thanks." I replied, letting go and heading towards Eowyn, seeing as she was cooking some food. She gave me three bowls of stew and I gave her the Reader's Digest version of what was happening. Then I went back to our tent, where Natalie was still sniffling. I gave her and Kate the food and sat down.

"Here, eat. You need it." I told her. Natalie forced a small smile and started eating her food.

Natalie, Kate and I talked for a while afterwards. Natalie eventually fell asleep and Kate and I went outside for some air. We wandered to the edge of the camp and looked down over the surrounding area where the rest of the army was asleep. There were a couple of guards on duty doing the same thing. Kate and I just nodded to them.

"Do you think she's going to be okay?" I asked my sister. Kate looked at me and nodded.

"Natalie will be fine, eventually. She'll get better someday. Someday she'll be able to look back at her, very short, time with Boromir and smile instead of cry. All of us will." Kate told me. I sniffled.

"And, you believe that?" I asked. Kate gave me a one-armed side hug.

"I have to. Otherwise I'll have a meltdown too. But yes, I believe that we'll all be able to handle whatever grief this world throws at us and that everything will get better in time." My sister stated, staring into the night. "You gotta keep the faith." She gave me a ghost of a smile. That sounds like something our mother would say. I thought.

"Kate, you're starting to sound like Mom." I whispered. Kate let out a choked sob. We'd always been close to our parents. I hugged Kate and she started to cry. I just hugged her tighter.

"I'm going to steal a quote off the internet now, Kate. True strength is keeping it together when everyone would understand if you fell apart. You've been so strong for Natalie and Francesca and me. You were there to pull us back together after Gandalf and Boromir died. It's okay to cry, sis. I miss mom and dad too." My voice cracked a bit. My sister and I stood there for a long time. Sure, it was late and we should probably have been getting some rest, but neither of us cared at that moment.

After a while, I saw a horse and rider coming up the trail to our camp and pointed him out to Kate.

"I think you and I both know who that is." I nodded towards the figure. Kate nodded.

"It's Lord Elrond." Kate stated.

"Or, if we're using Francesca's version….." I trailed off, smirking slightly at the memory.

"Don't go there." Kate warned, also smirking just a tiny bit.

"Lord Eyebrows." I grinned.

"And you went there." Kate sighed. A few minutes later, the guards noticed Lord Elrond riding towards our camp and hurried off to go wake up King Theoden, and later Aragorn. Kate and I shared a look, then rushed back to our tent. Both of us began to pack up as quickly and quietly as we could.

"What are we going to do about Natalie?" I asked as I put my cloak on and shouldered my pack.

"She's going to have to stay here. I don't think either of us wants her going through the Paths of the Dead. She's always hated that part of the movie." Kate replied. I nodded.

"And she'll have Eowyn. I have a feeling they're going to be good friends." I stated. Kate nodded and we left the tent. We quietly made our way over to Braylla and Arya and prepared them for the ride through the Dimholt road. A moment later, Legolas came over to get Arod. The three of us led our horses through the camp, where we found Gimli and Aragorn talking.

"Just where do you think you're off to?" Gimli asked, standing up from the barrel he'd been sitting on.

"Not this time. This time you must stay Gimli." Aragorn answered. Gimli hummed thoughtfully and looked down at the ground. Kate, Legolas and I walked up beside Aragorn, leading our horses.

"Have you learnt nothing of the stubbornness of Dwarves?" Legolas asked, smirking. Aragorn turned around and stared at us.

"You might as well accept it. We're going with you laddie." Gimli stated. Aragorn smiled. We mounted our horses and started towards the Dimholt road.

A murmur ran through the people in camp as we rode out. My heart clenched painfully when I watched Natalie get out of the tent we'd shared to see what was happening. I locked eyes with Natalie for a moment. She nodded in understanding and gave me a half-hearted smile. I'm lucky I have such good friends .I didn't even say good-bye. I thought to myself, feeling absolutely terrible for it.

"Lord Aragorn!" Someone called after him as we left camp and started along the Dimholt road. I forced myself not to look back. Had I looked back and seen Natalie's face, I would have turned around and stayed with her. I'm certain Kate would have too.

Soon, we found ourselves on a path at the bottom of a dry, barren canyon. The wind howled among the rocks and I shuddered involuntarily.

"What kind of army would linger in such a place?" Gimli asked.

"One that is cursed. Long ago the men of the mountains swore an oath to the last King of Gondor; to come to his aid, to fight. But when the time came, when Gondor's need was dire, they fled; vanishing into the darkness of the mountain. And so Isildur cursed them, never to rest until they had fulfilled their pledge. Who shall call them from the grey twilight, the forgotten people? The heir of him to whom the oath they swore. From the North shall he come, need shall drive him. He shall pass the door to the Paths of the Dead." Legolas explained.

After a while of riding, we were forced to dismount our horses and walk the rest of the way. Barren, grey trees grew on either side of the road and the sun was blocked out by the rocks overhead.

"The very warmth of my blood seems stolen away." Gimli commented. Soon, we came to the entrance to the Paths of the Dead. There was some kind of inscription above the entrance.

"The way is shut. It was made by those who are dead, and the dead keep it. The way is shut." Legolas read the inscription.

Suddenly, a cold wind that carried what seemed like smoke blew out of the entrance. I shuddered and the horses were spooked. They ran off whinnying in fright, with all of our stuff still on their backs. Aragorn yelled after his horse, but it was no use.

"I do not fear death." Aragorn stated and walked through the doors. Legolas ran after him a moment later. Kate and I shared a look.

"If I remembered the exact quote from the book, I'd be using it now. I think it goes something like 'I do not fear those that are dead'." Kate stated as we followed Aragorn and Legolas.

"Well this is a thing unheard of! An elf will go underground, where a dwarf dare not. Oh. Oh, I'd never hear the end of it!" I heard Gimli saying behind us as we ran.

"No, no you wouldn't." Kate muttered.

*Natalie's POV*

A little while after Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli, Kate and Olympia left, I went to go find Eowyn. I knew that the next morning we would be leaving for Minas Tirith. I knew Eowyn would be masquerading as a guy to fight and I also knew that there was no way in hell I was getting left behind. I had asked someone where Eowyn's tent was and stood outside, debating whether or not to go in.

"Eowyn?" I asked.

"Lady Natalie, is it you?" she asked.

"Yes. I need to talk to you. Can I come in?" I replied.

"Of course you may!" Eowyn responded.

I opened the flap of the tent and went inside. I found that Eowyn had been preparing the stuff she'd brought to fight. I just watched for a moment.

"What did you wish to speak of, Lady Natalie?" Eowyn asked. I internally cringed when she put 'Lady' in front of my name.

"A few things, actually. First, please don't call me 'Lady'. Second, I want to fight and I am not getting left behind when they leave. I was wondering if you could help me disguise myself as a guy so I could go with them. I now know that you had the same idea." I told her, looking pointedly at the stuff she'd been preparing when I came in. Eowyn smiled at me.

"I would be glad to help you prepare for battle. I believe I can find some armor for you that would fit." She replied.

"I owe you for this. Big time." I said.

"Nonsense. Wait here and I will be back soon." Eowyn told me as she left to go find some armor to fit me. She came back quickly and together we prepared for battle. Eowyn had even found a spare horse for me to ride. This should be interesting.

Author's note: Meep! I have nothing really to say here other than the next chapter will contain the whole Paths of the Dead scene…READ AND REVIEW PLEASE!

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