Lord of the Rings: Kyshri's Story - The quest to destroy the One Ring told through the eyes of a runaway elf (part thirteen of thirteen)

Recap of Tale 12 . . .

It was an hour into my wandering, though I was not far from the shore, that I found my skin crawling with the knowledge that I was being watched. I stopped and looked all around; I could see nothing in or near the trees, but I knew that something was there.

A branch snapped and I whirled, coming face to face with an orc.

I did the only prudent thing possible at that moment: I ran.

Tale 13

He twitched in alarm as a tree branch cracked in the trees and it suddenly occurred to him that Kyshri was not nearby. A strange fear gripped him and he went on a frantic search for her, dashing wildly into the forest. With orcs on both shores she was the least safe of all of them, except perhaps Frodo.

His reaction was instinctive or neary so; the horror stories of elven females being raped and beaten, chained in orc camps to be toys used on a whim, were impressed upon a male by his parents and he kept those stories clear in his mind. From there he learned to bear an intense, incurable hatred of orcs. It was bred into him--a fear and antipathy so powerful that he shot one on sight and kept an eager eye out for more.

He found her fifteen minutes later, staring blankly up at one of the Uruk-hai as though mesmerized. He dashed forward, reaching hurriedly for his daggers, totally unaware of the Uruk-hai's arm as it came up and caught his chest, knocking him forty feet into a large tree.

Struggling up, he gathered himself for a more cautious attack. He strung an arrow and bolted between her and the Uruk-hai, loosing it into the orc's neck. But his panicked aim had been slightly off and it survived, though it did retreat. But he knew it would be back.

He turned to look at her and warn her of the danger she was in, meeting with her respectful, almost adoring gaze. Taking a tentative step forward, she kissed his jaw lightly. Over a simple orc? He felt himself flush a bit, but managed to supress it. Now was not the time to let her distract him as she had the ability to do without even trying.

[Be careful,] he advised, turning to search out the others, who had surely come into the forest soon after he had.

She caught his hand, firmly preventing him from leaving without hearing what she had to say. [Legolas . . .]

He faced her again. She let him go cautiously and reached behind her neck. She unclipped a necklace and started to pull it from her tunic. At first he thought it was the locket Lady Galadriel had asked him to give her, but what she lifted was something completely different.

It was a gold phoenix pendant set with the most brilliant red, orange, and yellow gems that he had ever seen. Its head was raised in a silent cry, its wings outspread in flight, its long tail angled below. The chain that held it attached to the very tip of each wing.

He was admiring it when he recalled that Lorien's House symbol was a phoenix. He had never seen the style of it, but he had a good idea that this is what it looked like. She put it around his neck and clasped it before he could open his mouth to protest.

[. . . But . . .]

She smiled and kissed his jaw again, taking a step back to put space between them. [Keep it safe for me.]

Then she leapt into a tree and was gone.

~*~

I sniped orcs from the trees, taking them out as the others warranted my aid. I kept half a dozen arrows in circulation; the arrows passed smoothly through the bodies of the orcs and returned to me as accurately as if they had been loosed by an elf on the ground and I had no need to use more than that.

The orcs in the area were practically all dead when Telrak landed on my shoulder, something gripped tightly in his beak. I panicked when I saw it was the Ring. [Give it to me, Telrak!]

He dropped it in my hand and dove down to flutter about and rake with his talons the face of an orc who had been approaching Legolas from behind. I whirled and leapt through the trees as fast as I could; I had to get the Ring back to Frodo as quickly as possible.

My haste caused me to slip on a mossy branch, but I took it in stride and flipped, landing in the briefest of crouches before dashing on to the shore. I did not quite know how I knew Frodo was there, but I followed my instincts--they had not yet led me wrong.

And they warned me at the last moment of the orc that had leapt from a tree hoping to ambush me. I turned too late to defend or counterattack, letting out a yelp as the orc swung its blade at my head. I ducked and skittered frantically out of the way, trying desperately to think of some way to get by it without having to take the time to kill it.

It did not take me long to realize I had wasted more time trying to get away than I would have if I had just killed it. But I did not have time to reach for my sword, I was so busy trying to avoid the orc's blade. I was therefore taken by surprise when daggers came from nowhere and sliced the orc's head off. I stared blankly down at the orc's body, watching Legolas as he calmly retrieved his weapons. [You have saved me yet again.]

[We are allies. It is my duty.]

I looked down at the Ring clutched still in my palm. [Will you be joining me for this?]

[I am not letting you run off alone.]

He was my guardian the whole way. His presence was reassuring--stability in my uncertainty. Running shoulder to shoulder with him, both of us bound and determined by the trails of our personal thoughts, I felt as though there was nothing we could not overcome.

We exited onto the bank, digging twin trenches as we braked. I saw Frodo and Sam hitting the other bank just then and leapt into the air, pitching the Ring across the river. "Frodo! The Ring!"

He automatically reached for it in his shirt, then turned to look at me. The Ring bounced lightly off his forehead and fell to the ground. He picked it up, waved gratefully to us, and headed into the forest without a backward glance.

I touched down on my toes by Legolas and stared at the water until he spoke. [Should we not go after them?]

I shook my head. [They left us. Frodo feared the Ring would turn us against him and perhaps it would have. We can only honor his wish that we not go any further on that path with him.]

[What if---]

[They will do fine on their own. Let us find the others.] As I said that, we heard the horn Boromir carried sounding boldly through the forest. [See? We are yet needed here.]

We took off again into the forest, following the horn's cry, though its echo became confusing to us as we ran. Telrak swooped down arrow-like in front of us and provided us with a definite, unwavering path to Boromir even when the horn was silent.

I somehow managed to outdistance Legolas, for when Telrak banked away I knew I was nearly there and when I spared a look back, he was gone. I was sure he had not been ambushed, for I felt no discomfort about his disappearance, so I continued on my way, hastening toward the sound of a bow being drawn.

I slid between Boromir and the Uruk-hai, staring him down. The arrow was, surprisingly enough, still stuck in his neck from where Legolas had shot him the first time. He paused, the arrow still strung at my stomach, and stared at me closely the same way he had when we had first met. He slowly lowered his bow, apparently unwilling to shoot me.

But why? Was this the same reason as before, whatever that had been? Was there an orc . . . custom . . . that would not let them shoot a female? Like some sort of twisted chivalry?

Aragorn arrived then, catching the orc off guard. They began to fight and I watched a moment to be sure Aragorn would not be overwhelmed. Then I turned to tend Boromir, who had collapsed backward. There was nothing I could do except comfort him; even my healing magic was not advanced enough for such mortal wounds as these. I had not had the foresight to build it and now I seriously regretted that decision--to increase my attack spells rather than increase my healing abilities. Why had I not thought of such a thing before?

So I knelt behind him and pillowed his head on my legs, soothing him with soft words and song when he seemed to be becoming upset. It would be best for him if he moved as little as possible, even if he was dying. I kept up a steady stream of talk--even if they were only simple random words--for he seemed to have few of his senses left to him and apparently could not feel my knees beneath his shoulders or my hands on his face. His eyes were totally unfocused and glassy with pain, his attention was clearly turned inward, so my voice was the one thing that reached him and assured him that he was not alone.

Aragorn then, having defeated the Uruk-hai, knelt quickly beside Boromir, who seemed to come to his senses briefly. I lifted my head as they spoke, watching Legolas and Gimli approach from wherever it was they had been fighting orcs, if the fresh blood covering them was any sort of indication. I met Legolas' gaze for a short moment and then looked away; he understood and bowed his head sadly, closing his eyes.

"Be at peace," Aragorn whispered to the quiet Boromir, who I realized then had become very still in my lap. I looked over the dozens of dead orcs and shut my eyes, whispering a silent prayer to go with him. Even if he had indeed tried to take the Ring from Frodo he had redeemed himself well and I could find no way to critize him for it.

I stayed with the body until the others decided between themselves what to do with it. They put together a crude but effective bier and moved the body onto it and then the four of us returned to the bank of the Anduin, emptied out a boat, and placed Boromir inside with his sword and a few of his foes' armor and weapons to tell of his final victory.

As a last tribute to his bravery in the face of so many enemies, we watched the boat go over the edge of the falls and spent another moment in reticence before planning our next move.

"Are we not following Frodo?" Gimli asked.

"We are not," Aragorn answered.

"Then it has all been in vain," the dwarf concluded flatly. "The fellowship has failed!"

Aragorn shook his head. "Not as long as we hold true to each other. We cannot just leave Merry and Pippin to suffer Saruman's evil." He turned to retrieve his dagger and cleaned it off before slipping it back in its sheath and looking at us again with a new plan in mind. "Leave everything that can be spared behind. We will travel light."

Telrak, who had lost a few feathers and had a cut across his right foot but seemed little the worse for wear, circled calmly down to Legolas' shoulder and let out a cry. It was an encouraging sound and we began to move, collecting what we absolutely had to have and leaving the rest under the last inverted boat before setting off into the forest at a cautious but quick run with Telrak leading the way, our guide in this strange forest, though how he knew his way I could not tell.

I again ran shoulder to shoulder with Legolas, keeping pace with him as we caught up with the others. He looked over at me and smiled--it was infectious and I could not help smiling back. He laughed then; it was a clear, pure sound untainted by too much sadness or strain and I found myself fixated with it immediately. I laughed in reply, though I had no idea just what we were laughing at and I was not sure he did either.

But it felt good to laugh after a time in which a genuine smile had become its own struggle to produce. So this came as a blessed relief to my mind and heart to be able to indulge in such an uplifting activity, however simple. For I also knew, somehow, that no matter what happened--for I was now sure that Lady Galadriel's mirror had been wrong concerning Legolas' death--everything would be all right.

~*~

He was thankful to have Kyshri by his side. She was not only a powerful ally but a being very dear to his heart. He would have little to worry about as long as she was there. And as for the orcs . . . If they dared to lay a hand on her he would tear them limb from limb for trying to dirty her and take her from him. She had given him her pendant and therefore belonged to him in some aspect; it was his responsibility to guard her.

She looked over at him, as though aware he was thinking of her, and he smiled at her. She smiled in return, obviously trying not to in a situation as grim as this. It was so amusing to see her fighting the urge and he laughed at her. She finally began laughing as well and it seemed to him that the air around them was suddenly not so heavy with pain and grief.

He vowed then and there that he would let no further harm come to her while he was still alive. And that, once this journey had been completed, he would find the courage to ask for her hand--to find out if her giving him her pendant was the truth and not a simple jest.

And he knew at that moment that the journey would be concluded--that Lady Galadriel's mirror had truly been wrong about Kyshri's death--because he could sense that no matter what happened, everything would be all right.

He shifted his gaze, peering up through the boughs of the trees to the pale blue sky above, and smiled once more.

They would be victorious; the Ring would be destroyed.

Namarie

Okay, now everyone take a deep breath . . . and scream!

There. Don't you feel better? At least a little? Ah, don't fret. Everything will be fine. My Two Towers fic is ready for submission!

Thanks to everyone who's been reading/reviewing! I love all you guys--you brighten my day!

As for the next fic, I realized recently that I foolishly titled my fic 'Lord of the Rings: Kyshri's Story' instead of 'Fellowship of the Ring: Kyshri's Story'. Now, in an effort to not be painfully repetitive, I want to change the name of the fic. The catch is, it needs to be something that can be associated with this fic for any new readers who might happen along later. Obviously, that leaves little room for imagination.

If you have any suggestions, let me know! As of now, I'm drawing a blank, so any ideas are welcome!

~LS

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