Mirkwood's Blade - Chapter Twelve - The Crebain

"If you dare to smirk at me again, Legolas," Novarwen threatened as she dismounted, "I swear on my honor as a former Captain of the Taurroch, I will kill you and laugh over your grave."

Her brother did smirk. "I just can't help thinking of you on our first journey here," he said innocently. He raised his voice for the benefit of the rest of the Fellowship as they made themselves as comfortable as they could on the cliffs of white rocks. "You were cursing the mountains in all the colorful vocabulary of a Taurroch, and we were all laughing at you tumbling down boulders and -"

"Now that story I do not believe, Legolas," Boromir laughed behind Novarwen, and she rolled her eyes. "I simply cannot imagine an Elf - and an Elf as beautiful as your sister - using anything but the most delicate words!" He pulled out his sword and swung it around in the air to loosen up his arms.

Novarwen gasped. "Boromir, did you just use the word `delicate' in the same sentence that you referred to me in?" Legolas laughed and punched her on her upper arm. "All right, the smirking was bad enough, but I will not tolerate punching!" Novarwen tackled her brother and wrestled him to the ground amid laughs from the rest of the Fellowship. By the time the impromptu match was over, their companions had settled down for a well-deserved rest after weeks of going over the mountains. Novarwen sat down on a rock and rubbed her elbow. Legolas had given her a few knocks that she would not forget for some time. Then again, Novarwen thought, glancing amusedly at her older brother bent over, holding his stomach while he got his breath back, she had done the same for him.

Suddenly he straightened, peering at the horizon, his brow furrowed. A little worried, Novarwen looked in the same direction. All she saw was a dark cloud...but Legolas wouldn't be worried about a cloud. She jumped up and went over to him. "It's that cloud, isn't it?" she asked. He nodded, and they both ran to where Gandalf, as the others called Mithrandir, sat talking to Gimli. "What do you make of that thing?" Novarwen asked them quickly, nodding her head at it.

Gimli tossed a look over his shoulder at it and grumbled, "Just a wisp of cloud." Legolas glared at him.

Boromir looked at it, drawn over by the conversation. He gazed at it for a long moment, then said in a low voice that filled Novarwen with dread, "It's moving fast...against the wind."

"Crebain from Dunland!" Legolas cried after a last look to make sure.

"Hide!" Aragorn yelled, and their temporary camp was thrown into chaos. Novarwen quickly led Brethil behind a large rock outcropping, then grabbed the hands of the two younger hobbits, Merry and Pippin, and threw herself and them under a rock shelf that hid them from view. The others were all doing the same thing, and the crebain swept over them only moments after they were all concealed. Screeching, the birds flew over their hiding places. Novarwen's heart leaped - would they be fooled? Would they fly away? But no, they wheeled around and flew back the way they had come. They saw us, Novarwen thought with dread. She stood up.

"Spies of Saruman," Gandalf said, his voice filled with fear. That more than anything else frightened Novarwen. The idea that something could scare Gandalf was not one she cared to have. "The passage south is being watched."

"Where can we go then?" Novarwen asked. "Preferably some place without those things."

Gandalf looked up into the sky. Following his gaze, Novarwen found that thinking of someone who could frighten Gandalf was not the worst thought she could have. She was afraid she knew what the wizard was going to say, and she was afraid that it had something to do with the enormous snow-covered mountain his eyes were fixed on.

"We must take the pass of Caradhras," Gandalf announced, confirming her fears. The others groaned, took a deep breath, and shouldered their packs, and Novarwen did the same. "Why am I always right?" she grumbled to herself, digging in her pack for her warm coat. Up there on that Valar-forsaken mountain, she had a feeling she was going to need it.

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