You Can't Take Me

Chapter 3

By the following evening, they had reached the roots of the mountains.

"There is no sense trying to go further tonight," Dimoriel said as they road up the mountain path. "You better stay in the valley tonight and leave early in the morning."

Legolas and Duarthon were surprised by this. They had expected Dimoriel to force them out so she could return to her hermitic lifestyle.

"We do not wish to impose," Legolas said, watching her silhouette ahead of him.

"Truth be told, it is a rather lonely existence here. It is strange to have people to talk to again. I shall miss it."

"You could come back with us," Duarthon suggested.

"I cannot, as I have told you," Dimoriel said, and there was a hint of regret in her voice. "It is far too dangerous."

"When was the last time you had an issue," Legolas asked, before adding, "if you don't mind me asking?"

"Quite a while, but I feel the rage always within me. I cannot risk it."

"I think you should at least try-" Duarthon began, before Dimoriel held up her hand for silence as she stopped Sulinte abruptly.

"What is it?" Legolas asked softly, his voice barely audible above the wind.

"Something is not right," Dimoriel said, staring at the cliff face, her face screwed up in concentration. Without another word, she urged Sulinte into a gallop, or what passed for one on the mountain slope. Exchanging looks, Legolas and Duarthon followed.

When they caught up to Dimoriel, it was in the gully where they had first seen her. Sulinte was standing alone peacefully, but he was the only thing that looked calm. Both elves looked around in horror at the utter ruin that had once been a lush, wild garden. Plants and trees were torn up by the roots or trampled into the ground, which itself had been torn up by enormous claws.

"Wargs," Duarthon whispered, looking around. The silence was broken by a blood curdling screech. Legolas and Duarthon immediately dismounted and hurried through the wreckage towards the sound.

When they entered Dimoriel's home, they stopped abruptly, Legolas in the doorway, Duarthon looking over his shoulder. There was nothing left to suggest that this had once been a home. All the furniture, books, and numerous plants were smashed, shattered, and shredded across the floor, the tree itself sporting deep gouges made by warg claws. But what made the two elves stop wasn't the mess, it was Lady Dimoriel.

Her description of her rage-induced episodes was nothing compared to actually experiencing it. They watched in horror as Dimoriel picked up the splintered remains of furniture and throwing them around the room, all the while emitting an inhuman howling and screeching. She pulled out a set of daggers from her belt and began throwing them around the room, smashing what little was still at least partially intact, including a window, a vase, and what remained of a leather-bound book. Legolas had to dodge one of the knives that came narrowly close to his ear, imbedding itself in the shattered doorframe.

The elves would have let her wear herself down if she hadn't started to self destruct. She grabbed broken glass and pottery with her bare hands, flinging it out the window, not caring about the blood that began dripping from her hands.

"Dimoriel," Legolas said, walking cautiously towards her. She either ignored him or didn't hear him, as she continued on flinging things out the shattered window. "Dimoriel, you need to calm down." This too had no effect. Heedless of his attempts to calm her, Dimoriel began punching the tree and the wood frames around the windows, making her knuckles bleed and cracking through the already fragile beams. When she pulled her sword from its scabbard across her back, Legolas gave up reasoning with her.

"Dimoriel! Stop it!" he shouted, rushing towards her and attempting to wrestle the sword from her grip. She snarled at him, showing considerable strength for her size as she kicked Legolas in the stomach, knocking him backward. By then, Duarthon had entered and was trying to pin her arms down. Once Legolas got his breath back and stood, he was forced to grab her roughly around the waist, pulling her backwards as Duarthon successfully freed the sword from her grip. Biting and clawing at his arm, Dimoriel fought against Legolas's grip as he dragged her bodily outside, where she had less of a chance of hurting herself, or them. More than once, they nearly fell down the stairs in a heap, but Duarthon managed to keep them upright, though he could do little more than that as Dimoriel flailed angrily.

"Get some rope!" Legolas said as he pinned the struggling elleth to a rock. He winced as she managed to get a hand free and raked her fingernails across his cheek. Duarthon quickly returned with rope, and between the two of them, they managed to get Dimoriel restrained, though she kept screeching and howling in rage.

"What do we do now?" Duarthon asked, looking at Legolas, both of them breathing hard.

"We can't go anywhere tonight. I am certain there are only the two paths in and out of this gully, so we should try and put debris or something in the openings, which will at least hinder any more wargs should they try to come up here."

"I suppose it was lucky that the wargs attacked when Dimoriel was gone."

"Lucky for whom?" Legolas asked. "Dimoriel, or the wargs?"

Dimoriel woke to a severe throbbing all over her body. Groaning, she blinked open her eyes and saw Legolas sitting in front of her, tending a warm fire burning in her fire pit.

"Welcome back," he said, glancing up at her. "You are back, right?"

"How bad was it?" Dimoriel asked, trying to hold her spinning head. It was then that she realized she was bound tightly. "Oh," she said, looking down at the ropes.

"I think I understand now," Legolas said, getting up and walking around to untie her. "You did a great deal of damage."

"It doesn't matter, everything was destroyed already," she said heavily. Legolas was glad to see these thoughts didn't make her angry again. She just seemed weary as he undid the bonds around her arms and she stretched them experimentally. Wincing, she noticed that her hands were covered in blood.

"I hope this is all mine," Dimoriel said as Legolas finished untying her. "Where is Duarthon?"

"He's checking to make sure we are secure for the night," Legolas said, looking down at her hands. "Here, let me."

"It's alright," Dimoriel said, pulling her hands away from him as he reached towards her. "I do it all the time. Just get me some water and I'll fix it. Wait," she said as he made to get up. "Is that from me?"

Dimoriel pointed to Legolas's cheek, and he put up his hand to touch it, and found that there was a damp spot. Pulling his fingers away, he saw his own blood on them.

"Yes, it is from you, but it's just a scratch," he assured her. Returning a moment later with water, he found Dimoriel had already wiped most of the blood off her hands onto her leggings.

"You could have waited," he said, putting the bowl in front of her as Duarthon returned.

"I think we are good for the night. I will stand watch first. How are you doing, my lady?"

"Better," she said, taking a clean cloth Legolas offered her and putting it in the bowl. "Come here." Legolas looked at her, confused. "It's my fault you're bleeding, let me at least clean it."

"It's really nothing," Legolas said, not moving. "I am fine. You are far worse than I am."

"Let me clean it, or it will get infected," Dimoriel insisted firmly. "Duarthon, restrain him."

"There is no need for that," Legolas said, holding up his hands in defeat as Duarthon just opened his mouth in surprise, not sure what to do. Legolas sat down next to Dimoriel, patiently letting her clean the cut on his cheek, feeling like a little elfling that was having his face wiped by his mother after a particular messy dinner.

"Did I hurt you at all, Duarthon?" Dimoriel asked, wiping her hand on her leggings again as fresh blood seeped from some of the cuts.

"Maybe a few bruises in the morning, but I'm alright," he said, watching her tend to Legolas. "You are quite powerful when you are like that. I don't think I've ever seen Prince Legolas knocked on his back like that."

"I apologize, I really cannot control it at all," Dimoriel said, her voice full of regret. "Where did I hit you?"

"In the stomach, but I'll be fine," Legolas said quickly, determined not to be doted on anymore while Dimoriel was still bleeding. As soon as she stopped cleaning his cheek, he picked up the bowl and took the cloth from her. "You, however, need some serious work. Can you take your gloves off or is it too painful?"

"I can do it," Dimoriel said, though she winced repeatedly as she slowly removed the garments. "And I can clean my own injuries, thank you."

"I can as well, but you didn't let me, so I am going to clean yours now," Legolas said firmly. "I am still your prince, and I will order you to sit still if I have to." Dimoriel looked at him sourly but relented, holding out her bloody hands.

"Do we have any bandages, Duarthon?" Legolas asked as he rinsed the elleth's hands carefully.

"I think so. I'll go get some," he said, getting up and disappearing into the night. The other two elves sat in silence for awhile, before Legolas decided it was necessary to bring up a topic that he knew wouldn't be well received.

"I do hope you will reconsider returning with us tomorrow," Legolas said as he examined Dimoriel's knuckles, making sure there were no wood splinters in them.

"I think after tonight, you should be able to understand why I can't."

"I can see why you think so," Legolas said, looking up at Duarthon as he sat down, taking the proffered bandages. "But you cannot stay here."

"I have lived here for centuries. I can rebuild."

"Perhaps, but you do not have the food to last through the coming winter right now, with your crops destroyed, nor do you have a house that is suitable to live in when the snows come."

"I have enough time before the snow settles to arrange my house. As for food, I can always hunt, or go into the market."

"Surely the winter passes become cut off by snow in the winter. It would be risky."

"I have done it before."

"What about the wargs? You cannot pretend that they are not coming this far north now. You will be extremely vulnerable to another attack. Especially as the darkness grows."

Dimoriel fell silent as she tried to think of a counter argument for this point. It was apparently a good one, as she was unable to come up with a response. Instead, she reverted to her original argument.

"Be that as it may, I am a danger to myself and others and cannot live among civilized people."

"I think you could," Legolas said, carefully wrapping her hand. "As long as people are aware and keep an eye out for you."

"So essentially I'll be like an elfling, constantly being babysat, except it's to keep me from killing someone, not to keep me from eating dirt."

"I think you should at least try it for the winter season," Duarthon added. "It beats staying up here and starving. I'm sure we can find you a place in the woods where you are generally away from people, but close enough that you can get food and supplies when you need them."

Dimoriel was silent, thinking hard about her options as Legolas finished wrapping her hand. She really had nothing to stay here for now. All her belongings had been destroyed, and she would have trouble when winter came, with so little of her garden surviving.

"Are you sure you can get me a place away from everyone?" Legolas smiled up at her as he tucked in the end of the last bandage.


Despite Duarthon saying he would keep watch, Legolas stayed up late, staring into the fire, deep in thought. Occasionally, his eyes would flicker onto Lady Dimoriel, sleeping peacefully on the other side of the fire. He couldn't imagine how she must be feeling. Before she fell asleep, he had retrieved the few things still intact from her home, despite her protests to do it herself.

All that had survived were some clothes, a few books, and a small wooden chest that he had retrieved from the upper beams of the house. When asked what was in it, she merely scowled and said, "That is none of your concern," so Legolas left it alone.

Dimoriel had lost everything, and he couldn't help but feel partially responsible. If she hadn't been away, she might have been able to do something. Then again, she might have been killed by the wargs. On top of this, she had her traumatic past that wouldn't let her be at peace. She had said she didn't want his pity, but he felt incredibly sorry for her all the same. He couldn't imagine what he would do if he lost his home.

Again, he wondered at her complexity. He had seen disinterested, angry, compassionate, violent, weary, lonely, and motherly all in the last two days. Her need to tend to his wound had been the most surprising, seeing as how he had assumed she cared little about him or Duarthon. The tenderness was all the more unexpected so soon after her incredibly violent fit. She had said she was not herself during these episodes, but what he had observed was positively animalistic. There was no reasoning with this side of her, and no way to control the feral beast that was unleashed. She had ignored every self-inflicted injury she suffered. Legolas wondered what would have happened to her if he and Duarthon had not been there to restrain her.

He was just about to drift off amidst these thoughts when he heard a whimper from across the fire. Instantly awake, he looked up at Dimoriel, who was fidgeting in her sleep, her lips moving in silent words, her face bearing a very troubled expression. Legolas hesitated, not sure if he should wake her. She started breathing with rapid, shallow breaths, moaning in pain. Thinking of nothing else he could do, Legolas started singing softly, hoping that his sweet words would chase away the dark dreams. It seemed silly, but whenever he'd had nightmares as a child, his mother's singing would always banish the bad dreams. Perhaps he could do the same for Dimoriel.

It took a while, but she slowly started to calm down, her movement ceasing as her moans died down. Duarthon approached and opened his mouth to ask what was wrong, but Legolas just put a finger to his lips, shaking his head as he continued singing. Puzzled, Duarthon nodded and returned to his post.

Dimoriel woke the next morning as the first light of dawn could be seen over the mountains to the east. She sat up, glancing at Duarthon sleeping a little ways away, very puzzled. Since she had her first episode, she had always had nightmares when she fell asleep the following night. Vivid memories of the horrors she had witnessed would fill her mind, assaulting her senses until she woke in a cold sweat. She had expected this to happen last night, but for some reason, she had slept all the way through the night.

As she thought about it, she remembered how the nightmares had started, pressing in on her as she slept. But for some reason, they had faded, disappearing as a pale, warm light filled her thoughts instead with a calm peace. Never before had her nightmare been interrupted. She could not explain what had happened.

"Are you ready to leave?" She looked around and saw Legolas walking towards her.

"As ready as I will ever be," Dimoriel said with a sigh.

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