Shadows Amongst the Leaves - Chapter 1
Shadows Amongst the Leaves
There were too many Orcs to count, swarming over the slopes and rocks of Emyn Muil. While hobbit cries rang out throughout the sparse forest, two friends were fighting to stay alive and to save each other. Legolas swiftly nocked his bow, pulling the string of Elf-hair taut with skillful hands; the arrow stood straight, its metal tip gleaming in the dim sunlight. Without warning, without any sound, the Elf released the bowstring, sending the shaft in one blur into an Orc's throat. With a grunt, the creature fell backwards, grappling the empty air. Scanning the woods around him with clear and piercing eyes, the Silvan Elf noticed his friend cleaving Orcs apart with Dwarvish ferocity. Dark blood spilled at Gimli's feet, splattering onto his armor and beard. Legolas glanced around, then returned his bow to his back and jerked out his long white knife.
There were so many of these fell creatures.
The Elf darted around, twisting his body in full rotation as he plunged the knife into the body of an Orc and ripped upwards, slicing flesh and bone and organs. The Orc fell dismally, splashing blood onto Legolas' elven cloak and onto his face. Ignoring the sudden warmth of gore on his flesh, the Elf continued fighting. The silver blur of his knife slashed fell creature after fell creature, piling bodies all over the ground and staining the leaves below their misshapen bodies. Caught in a dervish of survival, the young prince of Mirkwood slaughtered his foes alongside his shorter but stouter companion.
"Gimli, what say you of this misfortune?" Legolas said as he dispatched another Orc with a swift underhand blow of his knife, puncturing the thin chainmail. Blood sprayed onto his pale hand and rusted the shimmering green of his cloak.
"A darker omen of times since we have set forth," the Dwarf answered brusquely. "Of which we can only defend against, Master Elf. But you have my hard axe to depend upon, while I trust on your swift bow and knife."
Legolas shook his head, flicking several bloodstained strands of fair hair aside. "If the Ringbearer and Boromir had not come to some strife, this perhaps could have been thwarted. What say you of Boromir's fate at this moment, Gimli?"
The Dwarf frowned. "No doubt in my mind, Master Elf, that he would be fighting for his life."
"Did anyone else accompany him in his struggle?"
"We cannot tell, Legolas," Gimli warned. "There will be more Orcs ranging the forest. Do you believe he needs aid?" The Dwarf tightened his grip on his axe. "He has yet to summon us to his aid through the call of his horn."
The Elf prince narrowed his eyes. "I shall not tarry until it is too late. Come, friend Gimli. If another of us falls, the Fellowship will suffer a foul end that will be pleasing to the enemy. As an Elf, I cannot watch that come to pass. As a companion, I will keep our bond close. Do not tarry, for Boromir might need our weapons."
Boromir whirled around, his sword flashing in the light that filtered through the leaves. Bodies strewn over the bloodstained ground lay as a testament to his fighting prowess, even as more of the foul and cruel creatures known as Orcs closed in for the kill. But Boromir gave them no advantage at hand, no pause to draw sword or to hurl weapons from far range. The man of Gondor, pride running through his noble blood, drew no unnecessary breath as the melee continued.
Behind him, Merry and Pippin trembled with fear, even as they held their knives close to hand.
Legolas released his arrows, thudding them with a satisfying sound of success into the sprawling Orcs. His garb was drenched with blood - not his own - and the Elf smiled grimly as he nocked his bow for yet another kill. Next to him, Gimli growled in hopes of intimidating the fearsome creatures. For one of his stature and girth, Orcs were much to be feared.
"Friend Gimli, how have you fared?"
Gimli wielded his axe in both hands. "Fine by Dwarvish customs, Legolas."
"As for me, `tis the same as fighting in Mirkwood, the land of my father." The Elf glanced to his left and another Orc tumbled down the slope, a foreign arrow in its eye. "Come now. We have much to do."
"Wait, Legolas, you fool Elf! Where are you headed?"
"Towards the east, Gimli. I think I hear the sound of battle from far off." With that, the cloaked Elf sprang lightly away on agile feet. "Hurry, my friend, for I fear to leave you behind."
The Dwarf grunted, indignant, and ran after the fleet-footed Elf.
Merry and Pippin dodged in and out of the few Orcs that threatened to draw close to them; however, Boromir sidestepped one of the fell creatures and the Orc crashed to the ground with a cloven head. The hobbits drew back from the corpse, their faces frozen with fear and disgust. Towering over their little forms was a human born of fault, yet he destroyed all who would harm their innocence.
That was when one of the first arrows soared through the air, feathered black with doom.
Boromir staggered back, a look of pain and disbelief on his face. The shaft had pierced maliciously through his chest, close to his shoulder and he lost blood readily down his back and front. A normal man would have fallen, would have turned around and condemned himself craven, but the prince of Minas Tirith roared in rage and struck down more Orcs that dared to approached him.
But time was soon to betray him.
"Boromir!" Legolas gasped, sheathing his knife and drawing his bow from his back. Quickly, he nocked an arrow and crept closer to the scene of the battle. "Alas, he has taken a wound! Gimli, what do you say in terms of strategy? I would shoot down the bowmen - if they could be called that - and you can have Orcs for your taking?"
"Good by me," the Dwarf answered, staring down at the overwhelming number of hideous creatures below him. "Watch your back, Master Elf."
"I will. Watch yourself as well, friend." Legolas leapt down the hill, his light step hiding his approach. Suddenly, the second black-feathered shaft flew, thudding with a sickening sound into Boromir's chest. Startled by this, the Elven prince bit his lip and let loose the arrow. An Orc shrieked, collapsing into the leaves and one of the bowmen turned around.
Legolas gave the Orc no chance to shoot.
With a blood-chilling scream, it released its bow; its body slumped lazily to the ground. As for Gimli, son of Gloin, the axe in his hand hewed limbs and heads with a sweet sense of triumph. Bodies littered the once tranquil forest, although Boromir, to Legolas' despair and knowledge, was dying. Even as Legolas fought, he saw the noble man being pierced by many arrows and even his swift knife was not enough to cease such horror. Orcs swarmed after him, hatred of Elves naked in their twisted and ugly faces, and Legolas felt his spirit shirking back from such dark and bitter expressions.
"Boromir!" The hobbits' clear voices rang above the din and the Elf threw a glance at Merry and Pippin, who had rallied themselves forth at Boromir's behalf. However, Legolas soon felt his soul grow cold as the Orcs seized the merry folk, throwing them over their burly and grotesque shoulders like spoils after a hunt. Throwing caution aside, Legolas darted towards the escaping group of Orcs, determined to rescue the hobbits from a cruel fate.
That was when Gimli, Elf-friend, struck with a blow from behind, fell senseless to the scarred earth.
The Elf, turning his head back, saw the fall of his companion, and rage boiled in his restless blood. There was no time for tears or agony, but Legolas felt a strong grip of grief choking his breath from him. Orcs from both sides, seeing the Elf frozen in indecision as to whom to turn to and aid, threw themselves at him. Legolas wheeled around smoothly and stabbed one Orc in the stomach, sending the blade upwards into the ribs and thereby ending the miserable creature's life. Another one, crudely armed, raised its blade above its head as if to cleave the young Elf in twain; without pause, Legolas' knife found its mark in the Orc's face, splashing blood further upon his cloak.
But, alas, there were too many.
Grunts of Black Speech and snarls of anger rippled from the seething mass of Orcs and the language of Mordor itself gave the Elf pain. At the Council of Elrond, he covered his ears when Gandalf spoke the words, so dreadful were they to one whom spoke only the eloquent Sindarin. But here, he had to battle; he had to stay alive - he could not shied away from such dark words.
And yet, he cringed from the fearsome darkness of that foreign tongue.
If he had been alert at this moment, he would reflect afterwards, the things that happened later would not have existed. While driving the Black Speech out of his mind and dealing death and judgment to the Orcs - his most hated foes, whom slaughtered his mother - Legolas noticed not an archer from behind him. Distraction and inward fear of Mordor's twisted tongue had smothered his most acute senses.
For without warning, Legolas suddenly released his knife with a cry and staggered forward. A black-feathered arrow, buried into his chest, dripped fresh blood and the Elf felt strength ebbing slowly from his body. Hideous faces pressed close, weapons gleaming wickedly in the cold sunlight and the tongue of the Enemy roiled its dialect through the mob. Desperate to flee from such evil, the Elf whirled around, only to find himself outnumbered and surrounded. Gimli had not roused and Aragorn - where was Aragorn?
"Aragorn!" Legolas cried out. Where was the princely man whom he well respected?
The mob surged forward, casting themselves upon the helpless Elf. All would have been lost to Legolas, son to Thranduil whom ruled the forest of Mirkwood, had not the leading Orc, Grishnákh raised his hideous hand. Words of Black Speech tumbled out, jarringly sharp and blunt in its message. The other Orcs jeered the command, some hissing, but later howled in triumph and malicious delight.
Slay not the Elf, carrion he is. Let us take him to Saruman, where he will deliver him to darkness. We shall have use of him for sport - his beauty will not last him long.