Blood and battle
“I-it’s turning away!” Sam exclaimed happily as they
watched the molten creature retreat for no apparent reason. As the rest of the
group cheered Gandalf did not move and stared at the creature wearily. The
girls were in a state of panic, how were they supposed to stop this alteration
without being personally responsible for the death of Gandalf or alerting the
fellowship to their mission.
‘How the hell do we change this?! I thought it was gonna start with small changes!’ Elle thought frantically to her friend who was just as frazzled.
‘I have no idea.’ Chris thought, defeat heavy in her mind.
Elle leaned heavily on the cavern wall, they had to do something quickly but it seemed impossible to fix. It seemed futile, why would Varda choose them and give them no real power to change things. How was this fair?
‘Blood…’ A voice echoed in Elle’s mind, the unexpected touch startled her causing more pain. Yet the voice seemed familiar and soothing.
‘Blood?’ She asked the voice tentatively, unsure if Chris could hear this too.
‘Blood and battle. The scent of what drew the Balrog to you.’ The voice explained, its gentle tone seemed to relieve some of the throbbing pain Elle felt. She wanted to question the voice more but time was waning and the connection severed.
‘Chris? Did you hear that?’ Elle asked, her eyes on Gandalf who had turned to face them.
‘The thing about blood? Yeah, I got that.’ She confirmed.
‘So how are we-’
‘I got it covered; don’t even think about hurting yourself more.’ Chris ordered firmly, causing Elle to look over at her just in time to watch her began to unsheathe her sword. She pulled it out only a little, wrapped her hand around the blade and squeezed. Thick crimson blood flowed from her palm as she sheathed her sword. Elle watched horrified as her friend allowed the blood to drip freely to the floor in hopes it would coax the Balrog back. They did not have to wait long.
The heat of the whip hit them hard as the Balrog charged at Gandalf only for the bridge to crumble beneath its feet. The flame was engulfed in shadow as the Balrog fell. With their hearts in their throats the girls watched as the whips raised, wrapping around Gandalf’s ankle and pulling him off balance. He clutched the edge of the broken bridge. For a moment Elle met his eyes, something flashed in his eyes but it disappeared before she could tell what.
“Fly you fools!” He berated before losing his hold on the bridge. Elle felt numb. She could no longer feel the pain of her injuries, the wails of her companions nor the heat of the tears that streamed freely down her grubby cheeks. They had overcome their first hurdle and she felt like a monster for it. Some part of her tried to remind her that he was not really dead and that he would soon return. But that part seemed far away, buried in sorrow and pain. It was strange to think that once these had been little more than characters on a screen to her.
Elle knew she was being ushered out of the mines. Arrows flew past them as they fled into the burning light of day. As soon as they were out Elle collapsed onto the dull grey rock that were scattered around the mountainside. The strain on both her body and her mind were proving too much. She had felt the grief of death before but never had she been present when it occurred. Her breathing was heavy and uneven; she attempted to quiet her sobs only making them more potent.
A gentle hand pulled her up but she was too upset to resist. She moved forward with a heavy heart and followed silently. Elle didn’t hear the words of comfort whispered to her nor did she feel her tears being wiped away. Her eyes remained unfocused as she lumbered on.
Soon the numbness subsided to be replaced with the now familiar throbbing pain that echoed through her body. They had reached the edge of the forest in good time and the presence of the ancient trees felt soothing for some reason. Even through the pain she felt it was difficult to deny the forest was beautiful, it was like it was from a fairy tale… which seemed kind of appropriate for an elven forest. Her hand moved to clutch her ribs when she noticed padding beneath her tunic. Confused she undid the ties, beneath the gentle fabric of her undershirt was a mostly clean bandage pressing some form of green paste to her bruised rib cage. Carefully she re-tied her tunic, then she wondered when she had been patched up… and who had done it.
“Stay close, young hobbits! They say a great sorceress lives in these woods, an Elf-witch, of terrible power. All who look upon her, fall under her spell…”
‘Elle…’ Whispered an echoing voice, it was female; soft, gentle and powerful.
“…and are never seen again.’
‘…your quest is known, child of England.’
“Well, here is one dwarf she won’t ensnare so easily. I have the eyes of a hawk and the ears of a fox!” Gimli boasted loudly as she gripped his axe only to be greeted with sever notched arrows. “Oh…”
Elle blinked as several arrows, notched, and pointed in her direction appeared; held by the elven scouts of the forest.
“The dwarf breathes so loud, we could have shot him in the dark.” Stated a tall, fair elf who appeared to be the leader of the scouting party; Haldir. The group was soon swept away deeper into the forest, it had grown dark and Aragorn was finding it difficult to get entry into the city. Legolas was stood beside him as they greeted each other… in Elvish.
“Mae govannen, Legolas Thranduilion.” Haldir greeted the Elven prince.
“Govannas vîn gwennen le, Haldir o Lórien.” Legolas replied, Haldir’s gaze moved to Aragorn.
“A, Aragorn in Dúnedain istannen le ammen.”
“Haldir.” Aragorn acknowledged.
“Lay swee-lonn, Mahn eh-nehth leen?” Haldir asked as his eyes fell upon Elle, she flinched; once again her inability to understand a liability. There was a pause; she could feel their gazes upon her. She made no attempt to reply, Elle simply leaned against one of the trees beside the platform.
“So much for the legendary courtesy of the Elves! Speak words we can all understand!” Gimli spoke with irritation much to Elle’s relief. Once again she had managed to dodge the proverbial bullet.
“We have not had dealings with the Dwarves since the Dark Days.” Haldir said with an air of superiority.
“And you know what this Dwarf says to that? Ishkhaqwi ai durugnul!” Gimli spoke the in Dwarven tongue proudly, knowing its meaning was a secret to his people.
“That was not so courteous.” Aragorn snapped surprising the Dwarf with his understanding. Haldir’s eyes then turn and linger upon the Ring-bearer.
“You bring great evil with you.” He glances at the ranger, the decision clear in his mind. “You can go no further.”
Then everything just got uncomfortable. Elle noticed the glances the fellowship kept flashing at Frodo making him fell isolated. Silently she hoped Aragorn would finish arguing with Haldir and just get them in the city. Being injured was not as cool, especially with all the running she had to endure.
‘How are you holding up?’ The familiar mental echo of her friend was comforting.
‘I’ve been better. Do you think the Elves will have cookie dough? Cookie dough makes everything better.’ Elle joked weakly as she clutched her middle.
‘They have magic, I’m sure they could sort something out.’ Chris smiled as she stood with her friend. It seemed that Aragorn won the argument as Haldir approached the group.
“You will follow me.”