The two Dwarves leapt down the hill, sliding and tumbling into the rut; the steepness surprised the Dwarves, and they tumbled out of control, only being stopped by the stump of a tree. They stood confused, their heads spinning, and sense of direction lost.
Oli smeared a drop of blood on his finger and licked it; after tasting it he spits it back in the leaves. `It is a foul taste! But unless my skills have been lost, I am sure this is deer’s blood, but not a deer that I have ever eaten.’
`The Elf must be hunting,’ Khadum said. `This does not help our search; let’s crawl out of this gully and try to find clues that may lead us to find Dwarves, instead of Elves.’
Oli and Khadum began trying to climb up the steep slopes of the ditch; they crept higher and higher,rose and rose, coming ever closer to the top, but suddenly they would loose their footing and fall back down into the wet, soggy trench. They continued to climb with many scratches and bruises, but each time tumbling back down to where they began. The Dwarves became discouraged, and suddenly discovered that they didn’t know which hill was on the side of the river.
`How will we get out of this dung pile?’ complained Khadum.
`I will not be defeated by a muddy pit!’ shouted Oli, as if the hills were his enemy.
`Perhaps to defeat a trench, or “dung pile”, a rope will be an effective weapon,’ said a soft voice from above. The Dwarves emptied their sheaths of their weapons and faced the voice; and before them stood a slender, fair figure with black shining hair like that of a summer midnight. The figure’s cloak was green and blended with the forest around it, and upon its collar was a golden trinket of an acorn.
`An Elf!’ shouted Oli.
Bordon sat patiently, awaiting the arrival of Oli and Khadum, and hopefully guiding back Gordon, Gurwick and Dok. “What ever happened to them?” wondered Bordon for every hour that passed without their arrival. Night was falling, Bordon could see a few stars twinkling through the open roof of trees above the river, and the moon shone in pale blue light through the treetops. Fires were made, but the moths flocked in many numbers around the heads of the Dwarves, and the thousands of eyes peering out of the darkness were making the company uneasy.
`We must keep fires burning, if Oli and Khadum return, they need lights to guide their way,.’ said Bordon to those of the Dwarves who grumbled about the camp’s condition.
Bordon left the camp and sat alone, he was worried about Gordon, and most of all was worried what he must do when morning arose. He knew he could not stay on the bank of the river waiting for all those who are lost to return, he knew that it was risky to send more Dwarves out into the forest, and he knew that the mission must be continued, for the sake of his kin. The old Dwarf laid his head in his hands, not weeping, but only thinking.
`Troubled mind?’ said Rulldon from behind as he walked upon Bordon. `It is to be expected; a big decision lay ahead of you, when morning comes and the company is anxious to leave the darkness of these trees. Do you leave and continue your mission, leaving five of your comrades behind, one of which is your kin? Or do you wait? Wait in the darkness for the five to return, all while a company of Dwarves complain to you until your wits end?’ Rulldon laid a hand on Bordon’s shoulder. `The war needs us; the fate of our kin depends on us, and the knowledge of York-ie. Do not forget, it is us who will open the gates for our armies. York-ie will not live in this condition forever; he needs good healing hands. Tomorrow is the time to leave, whether they have returned or not. But this is only my opinion, you are captain, you may decide.’ Rulldon walked away, being guided by the lights of camp.
It was until morning that Bordon sat, thinking, pondering on his options, but once the sun rose and the morning dew glistened in the treetops, Bordon had decided what to do, but decided not to announce his order to the company until safely on the other side of the river.