The Thieves' Ring - Chapter Five

"Selira, would you hurry up! You're lagging behind again!" Dallon called once more through the trees. The dark-haired girl came drudging into sight moments after.
"It seems to me, Dallon, that you're the only one who's not tired. I'm fair exhausted and Telden and Legolas are too. We never should have let you come."
After a lengthy explanation of Selira's moonstone ring and Telden's other magic rings (the thought-sending ones and the diamond-truth one), the elven lords had decided to let Dallon travel with them back to Mirkwood, much to Selira's dismay.
Now, after being on the road for two days straight and having a run-in, nothing more than a small skirmish really, with a group of extremely confused orcs, the little group was tired and sore--not to mention filthy.
"I think we ought to set up camp here tonight." Legolas announced. Telden nodded in agreement.
"Legolas and I will take the first watch. Selira and Dallon, you will take the second watch."
Selira groaned, but the promise of sleep was too much and she collapsed onto her bedroll without complaining. Sleep claimed her instantly, and she did not stir for many hours...
* * *

"Selira! Selira!" Dallon was shaking her shoulders. She rubbed her tired eyes and pushed him away.
"Dallon, stop--stop howling at me."
"I'm not howling. It's time for our watch."
Aggravated, Selira climbed out of her bedroll into the chilly night air.
"Here, catch!" Dallon threw Selira her cloak.
"Thanks. Are you sure you weren't howling?" Selira tossed her cloak about her and drew it in tight.
"Yes, I--"The dark-haired thief stopped short as a loud howl cut through the nighttime silence. His eyes widened. "Wargs! Quick, wake Legolas and Telden!"
Selira rushed to the elf lords and shook them awake.
"We've got a problem: wargs!" She said. Telden pulled two long knives from his bag, and Legolas grabbed his bow and quiver from beside his bedroll.
"You two stay here," he said. "Telden and I can handle this."
The elf lords took off into the trees and left Selira and Dallon to watch the camp.
"Here, take this." Dallon handed Selira a torch. Moving to his bedroll, he retrieved two knives.
"You get knives and all I get is...this?" Selira gaped at him. "You must be joking."
"Nope. You see, as a woman, your roles are already set. Cooking, cleaning, and keeping up the house, raising children..."
"That's it! I'm gonna kill you!" Selira tackled Dallon, dropping the torch in the process. She pinned him down and punched him hard on the nose. Dallon shoved her off.
"Idiot girl. Now we have no light." He motioned to the remains of their camp fire. The flame flickered and died, leaving only embers and ash. It gave their campsite an eerie red glow.
"This is all your fault, y'know. It's fair awful for you to insult me like that all the time. Addin' insult to injury, that's what it is! After throwin' me out of the ring and all..." Selira put her hands on her hips.
Much to Selira's fury, Dallon laughed. "Did you know you talk funny when you're mad? Addin'? Thrownin'? I dare say, you--"He stopped abruptly as a low growl sounded. It seemed very near.
"Please tell me that was you growling, Selira."
"I don't growl, I just tackle and punch." She moved towards Dallon. "We ought to..."--The wargs leapt towards them--"RUN!" Selira grabbed Dallon's hand and ran as fast as she could in the other direction.
"Where are we going?" He shouted as they ran.
"No idea!" Selira panted and sped up, the wargs snapping at her heals.
They sprinted for what seemed like ages until Dallon called out:
"Quick! That tree over there, it's got low branches." He let go of Selira's hand and swung easily into its branches. For Selira, it wasn't quite so simple. The wargs were gaining, but she wasn't tall enough to reach the branch.
"Dallon!" she screamed. Dallon grabbed her wrist.
"Jump!" he ordered, but a moment to late. Selira jumped, but a warg leapt up behind her and sunk its teeth into her leg.
Selira screamed in pain, but somehow, Dallon managed to pull her into the safety of the tree's branches.
"Thanks..." she gasped as she clung limply to a branch with one hand. Her pants were ripped just above the knee, and she could feel warm blood trickling down her leg.
"We need to climb higher," Dallon said. His face paled as he noticed her wound. "I'll carry you."
"No, I can climb." Selira made a poor attempt to stand up. "Well, maybe not." She said, teetering shakily on her legs as she squeezed the trunk of the tree for support.
"Grab around my neck, but not too tight." Dallon commanded, and, for once, Selira obeyed. He made his way slowly to the middle of the tree and found a large branch to sit on. Selira had kept her mouth shut about her injury, which seemed to be growing worse with time.
Dallon set her down gently on the branch next to him.
"How are you feeling?"
"Not well. I--"Selira grimaced in pain as she touched her wound. "I feel...dizzy. I think...I think I've lost some blood..."
"Let me see it," Dallon's usual high-and-mighty attitude had been replaced with concern. He pulled a few ripped pieces of cloth from over the wound.
"Gods help us!" He murmured. "Selira, why didn't you tell me?"
"I'll be fine. It's really just a scratch..."
"What!? Are you mad!?" Dallon gaped. Then, as an after though, he added," You probably are. I'll see what I can do for now." Dallon quickly pulled off his shirt and ripped it into strips. This done, he tied the strips around the wound.
"Ack! That stings!" Selira whined. She turned her back to him. Dallon rolled his eyes.
"You know, you can look at me while my shirt's not on. It won't kill you."
"You should have used my cloak instead." Selira replied. She turned to face him, pale cheeks burning with embarrassment and cold. Dallon tugged the edges of her cloak tightly around her.
"You need to keep warm or you'll catch a cold. Try to sleep if you can." His dark eyes turned down to the wargs below. "Hopefully they'll be gone in the morning."
"Yeah. Hopefully we'll be here in the morning."

* * *

It was early morning when Selira awoke and found herself, wounded and chilled, still in the tree.
Dallon, it seemed, had drifted off to sleep trying to keep watch. His skin shone with frost and he looked half frozen.
Selira smiled in spite of herself. If it wasn't for him, she'd probably be dead. This wasn't the first time she'd been in debt to her fellow thief, but she was still thankful.
"Dallon." She nudged him gently. "Dallon, the sun is up."
"Hrrm...what?" He opened his eyes, dazed. Then he sat bolt upright in shock. "Foolish! I never meant to fall asleep. You could have fallen to your death!"
"But I did not, and for that we are both lucky." Selira replied and removed her cloak. She flung it over Dallon's shoulders.
"You near froze to death last night." She stopped, unable to think of anything else to add to this statement. Finally, she said," I think we ought to find Legolas and Telden. I hope they're alright!"
"I'm sure they're fine. They're probably looking for us," Dallon reassured her. (And, of course, he was right.)
Selira stood (not without pain, however) and readied herself for the climb down, her grey-green eyes defiant and determined. Dallon noticed this look and did not even mention carrying her down the tree. He had a swollen nose from last night's quarrel, and he didn't need a black eye to go along with it.
* * *
Legolas sighed in dismay. He and Telden had spent an entire night searching for their missing companions and still they had not found them. They decided to return to their campsite and see if they could pick up a trail from there.
"Legolas! I think I've found their foot prints!" Telden called, examining a small dent in the ground. "They ran east, away from the wargs!"
"Did you hear something just now?" Legolas asked, looking around. He could've sworn he'd heard voices.
"Will you put me down this instant!" Selira's voice carried through the trees. "Dallon, put me down now!"
"I think we've found them," Legolas laughed, and rushed past a few bushes. Sure enough Dallon, Selira over one shoulder, was walking that way. He grinned when he spotted Legolas.
"I thought you'd be back here," he said with a smile. Selira smacked him in the back.
Dallon rolled his eyes and set her on her feet. Selira's bad knee gave under the sudden pressure and she fell forward. Dallon caught her `round the waist and pulled her back up onto her feet.
"Hmph! I can walk perfectly fine."
"What's all this racket and yelling?" Telden came pushing through the trees. You'd think there'd been a kidnapping." He shook his head in wonder at the two mortals. "What happened to you?"
Dallon grinned. "I thought you'd never ask."

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