Legolas’ arrows were nearly all spent.
The sounds of battle; clanging weapons and the battle shouts of orcs and Elves clashing discordantly, echoed off of the ruined walls of the fortress, and the stone cliffs about him. The muddy, formless sludge that had pooled between the torn, ragged walls had already filled to the brim with the dead bodies of orcs, making it difficult for the orcs that came lumbering through the gap. Yet still they came, and all about him, more bodies were strewn, of orcs, and Elves, as well, more orcs gushing through the gap as each moment passed, streaming in like blood from a gaping wound that could not be staunched. One huge, growling orc was drawing near, its black, hook bladed sword lifted to strike him down, its teeth barred in greedy anticipation for its kill.
Crushing his teeth together in a determined grimace, Legolas reached back, and with the swift, ringing rasp of sliding metal, snatched his white knives from their sheaths upon his back, spinning them forward as the orc lunged at him. With one blade, he blocked the slashing descent of the long, wicked blade, as, he plunged his opposite fist into the beast’s jaw, and spun away, plunging his knife into the creature’s exposed side as he did. With an enraged, piggish squeal that faded to a gurgle, the orc tumbled to the damp earth, dead. But no sooner had he fallen, than Legolas had more orcs to deal with. The battle here, was over, he despaired as he slashed into one, and then another, only to find himself facing yet more, and others coming through the gap behind those.
Where was Aragorn? Where was Gimli? Where his friends still alive? Out of the corner of his eye, a movement caught his attention. An Elf, clad in dirty, blood smeared armored, plunged into view, her sword at the ready. Legolas’ eyes darted to Lothriel, whose helmet and cloak were missing, leaving her long hair to hang freely about her, in drenched, dirty locks.
The long gash upon her face was black and cracked, blood oozing from beneath the charred skin, but she did not seem to notice the pain it was surely causing her as she ducked an orc’s swinging blade, and spun her sword as she turn, swinging her blade into the orc’s face with a furious light in her eyes, the force so great, that the very metal of the beast’s helmet, split. The beast’s screech ended in a dying, frothing gurgle as Lothriel spun away, seeking for a familiar face, and lighting upon his.
“Where is Haldir?!” She demanded without preamble, her teeth clenched in angry fury. Her countenance contained no trace of the shy, demur maiden she had once been. At Legolas’ startled pause, she darted a step nearer, her stance almost threatening as she shouted, “Tell me where he is!”
“Up on the wall!” Legolas cried pointing. “But stay back from there! The orcs are taking it! It is lost!”
With a gasp of fear, and a stubborn shake of her head in the same motion, Lothriel darted off, straight at a thick knot of orcs that blocked her way toward the stone steps set within the wall.
“My lady!” Legolas shouted after her. But she had already disappeared in the surging, clashing tide of orcs and Elves. And Legolas could do nothing, for yet another orc with raised blade, was coming at him, and he was forced to contend with the beast’s mindless fury, if he did not wish to die himself.
At the sound of his name, Aragorn glanced upward, breathless, as the orc he had just stabbed, tumbled in a heavy, dead heap to the ground at his feet.
“Fall back to the Keep!” Théoden’s rending cry rang out clearly through the cold, heavy air. “Get your men out of there!”
At Théoden’s fraught order, Aragorn’s eyes shot about him at the Elves who remained, so few of them left now, compared to the numbers who had arrived, he thought to himself with a hard lump in his throat.
“To the Keep!” He cried out to them, swinging his arm wildly toward the slick stone steps carved into the hard, grey stone of the cliff that led upward to the Keep. But his glance darted away as another orc came at him.
With a harsh clash of steel, their blades met, and with a furious thrust, he dashed aside the beast’s thick blade, and brought his elbow down upon its muscled arm, feeling the crunch and crackle of snapping bone as he struck, and the creature uttered a wail of fury. But Aragorn’s sword quickly cut off its howl, and with a final dying roar that slowly faded to silence it tumbled to the earth.
“Pull back to the Keep!” He screamed again, as the Elves began a gradual, backward retreat toward the steps. But not all of them were falling back. Upward his eyes climbed toward the top of the wall, to find Haldir, his eyes still burning with unbridled fury as he slashed his sword with limitless energy and hatred into the orcs that still came clambering over the walls.
“Haldir!” He shouted, and the Elf paused a moment to glance down at him. How empty, and haunted and void of hope his eyes looked, almost as if he were already dead and Aragorn flinched involuntarily as he cried out, “To the Keep!”
Haldir gave a terse, almost reluctant nod, and glanced up at the few Elves left with him on the wall, gesturing to them to retreat, as Aragorn had ordered.
“What are you doing?”
Gimli’s gruff, deep demanding voice came from somewhere nearby, and Aragorn’s eyes shot to the Dwarf who was being pulled bodily away from the fighting, by Legolas, and a dark haired Elf from Rivendell.
“What are you stopping for?” Gimli continued to protest.
But suddenly a new movement caught Aragorn’s eye away from Gimli as a slim, almost sprightly figure slashed her blade into a lumbering orc before she leaped its fallen body. With only a terse glance, Lothriel dashed past the protesting Dwarf, and the Elves who were dragging him back as she scrambled swiftly toward the stone steps leading upward to the parapet.
The harsh wound on the side of her face stood starkly out, red blood seeping from beneath the cracked, charred skin. Her fair hair hung long and freely down her back, clinging in wet dirty locks that brushed back and forth across her back as she ran. She was alive? Aragorn gaped. But she would not remain so if she stayed out here! Especially as foolishly fearless as she seemed, scrambling straight toward the thick mass of orcs, that were swelling through the ragged breach.
“My lady, get back!” Aragorn screamed as a surge of panic welled in him.
Lothriel paused, but not at Aragorn’s order as an orc lunged at her. She dove beneath the uruk’s swinging blade, ducking the sword’s deadly arch before she rolled in a smooth motion back to one knee, and with a cry, brought her own black-blooded blade, like a scythe, up into its belly.
“No, my lady! Wait!” Aragorn shouted again as the Elf woman leapt to her feet, and started in a dead sprint toward the stone steps of the wall.