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Land of Light and Shadows: 7. Attacked at Dawn
Aragorn upended the contents of a saddlebag onto a thick carpet and
stepped back, waiting for the reactions of his companions. Sitting cross-legged
slightly away from the others, Legolas also watched and waited. Gimli and
Eomer, on the other hand, were puzzled and rather disturbed.
"How did you come by a dead hawk?" the dwarf asked, frowning as he studied
"And why have you been carrying it around?" Eomer added, equally confused.
"Legolas shot the bird yesterday before we set out," Aragorn explained
softly, keeping his voice quiet and secretive. "It was one of the birds
he saw watching us from the desert. I have already examined it, and I show
it to you now to ask your opinions."
They were gathered in the main tent where all four would be sleeping.
Despite Legolas’s grim misgivings during the ride, they had reached Lake
Supt without any mishap and with an hour to spare before the rising of
the sun. Camp had been made swiftly and efficiently, and guards were now
watering the horses after listening to strict instructions on the subject
from both Aragorn and Eomer. The sun was half an hour away now, and it
seemed they might make it through the night safely.
"It’s a bird and it’s dead," Gimli said shortly in response to Aragorn’s
words. He looked at Legolas and raised an eyebrow, hoping to hear some
profound statement from the elf. Legolas stifled a smile of amusement and
shook his head.
Eomer, on the other hand, took a bit more time in his study. "What are
these markings?" he eventually asked. "We have similar hawks in the southern
portions of Rohan, yet these patterns beneath the wing are strange to me.
These…these look to be marks of ownership."
Aragorn nodded and gently spread one of the bird’s wings. "Yes, these
markings. Curious things, if nothing else. Strange, aren’t they? Tell me,
do you see something in them? An image, perhaps?"
At this, Legolas sat up a bit and looked at the bird. He had also noted
the strange dye markings when he’d retrieved the hawk, but he had not seen
a pattern to them. Yet now…
"It looks like a tree," Gimli offered, becoming interested again.
"No, it looks like a dead tree," Legolas corrected quietly. "Made with
black dye." He looked up at Aragorn, his eyes questioning and fearful.
"Do you see the same picture that I see?"
"You know this pattern, then?" Aragorn asked.
"Only its history," Legolas answered. "My father and one of my older
brothers would know it by sight, though, as they once fought them."
"I think Gimli and I are both at something of a loss," Eomer hinted.
"If the mystery behind this pattern could be revealed in the near future,
I would count it as a favorable thing."
"Think of the symbol of Numenor."
"A white tree and stars," Gimli said quietly, suddenly realizing what
the markings on the hawk represented.
"And here we have a dying tree in black," Eomer murmured. "Direct opposition
"The white tree and stars were around long before Gondor," Aragorn said.
"They were symbols of Numenor during the days of is glory. But those who
betrayed Numenor chose for their banner something that would directly confront
the emblems of their former brethren. They chose the dying tree, and for
its color they chose black. They became known as the Black Numenoreans,
servants of Sauron. During the days of Elendil and Isildur, they were driven
back and defeated, but a remnant survived. It seems a remnant always survives,"
"Did you encounter the descendents of the Black Numenoreans on your
previous trip to Harad?" Legolas wondered.
"I did," Aragorn said quietly. "They’d studied the dark arts and some
had become great sorcerers. It was my hope that they had fallen when the
Ring was destroyed. It appears this was not the case."
"An evil as great and far-reaching as Sauron cannot wholly be destroyed,
I think," Gimli mused. "Not in a single lifetime, in any case. Unless of
course that lifetime belongs to an elf," he finished with a glance at his
"Nay, not even then," Legolas answered sadly, still studying the wings
of the hawk. "For evil does not truly die, and ever it finds a new form.
Sauron was but a resurgence of the evil first introduced by Melkor, or
Morgoth, as you would know him. Not until the final confrontation will
evil be erased completely, and none know when that day will come."
"But what of the evil we face here?" Eomer broke in, attempting to get
the conversation back on track. "You say Black Numenoreans survived Sauron’s
fall and thrive even now in the desert. If you are right, they will seek
your destruction, Aragorn."
"I doubt it not," Aragorn answered with a slight shrug. "But I cannot
recall a time when my life was not sought by some enemy or another. What
concerns me here is the welfare of Gondor, Rohan, and of those who journey
with me. We travel into the enemy’s territory, and that gives them the
advantage. They know this land better than we do, and they will use that
to their advantage. Also, these are not petty, quarreling orcs. They have
purpose, discipline, and honor."
"They are as yourself, Aragorn, only they serve dark masters," Legolas
observed quietly. "You share the same blood and the same ancestry. This
will not be an easy trial."
"But let us not forget out advantages," Gimli spoke up. "We have the
strength of the Rohirrim, the power of Gondor, and the bow of Galadriel
in the hands of one of Mirkwood’s finest archers."
"And yourself, Master Dwarf, let us not forget that," Eomer added with
"But pit those advantages against a desert filled with hostile Haradrim,"
Legolas challenged. "How much of an advantage remains?"
"Peace," Aragorn broke in, fearing the discussion might turn toward
argument. "I think it important that we not underestimate this threat,
but neither should we overestimate it. Even in the days of his power, Sauron
did not hold sway over all of Harad. Most tribes did pay him tribute, but
many did so out of fear and not loyalty. Mohart’s Gartabo tribe was one
of these. And as it did among the Dúnedain in the north, the blood
of Numenor runs thin over time. There are very few here who can claim to
be descendents of Numenoreans."
"Yet even a small threat can be a deadly one," Legolas pointed out.
Aragorn nodded in agreement. "Which is why I have shared this information
with you. We must be aware of our enemy’s strength. But let us not make
that strength greater than it is, for then we give them a power over us
that by all rights they should not possess."
"We give them power if we do not consider their strengths," Legolas
argued. "By doing so, we make it possible for them to take us unawares."
"Bands of hunting orcs have taken us unawares before, Legolas, and yet
we have always prevailed," Gimli said.
"And there is also the fact that not all of the tribes are aligned with
the Black Numenoreans, correct?" Eomer added.
"Correct," Aragorn confirmed. "In fact, during the time I spent among
this people, it was my observation that those of Numenorean descent were
frowned upon and sometimes exiled. The Haradrim are highly suspicious of
outsiders, and as I said before, they fear what cannot be immediately understood.
The bloodline of Numenor is seen as something of a mystery. With that heritage
comes rights, privileges, and abilities that are not to be found in the
"Meaning that those who are descended from Numenor shall be hidden from
Haradrim society. We will not be able to identify them," Legolas cautioned,
feeling that this matter was not being treated with the gravity it deserved.
His elven senses had already been on edge and this new discovery was setting
them off again.
"I hear your warnings, Legolas," Aragorn said, aware that the elf was
becoming frustrated. "Rest assured that we will take all necessary precautions.
This is a dangerous threat. Numenorean blood in the veins of an enemy is
not a thing to be taken lightly. I recoil at the thought of battling my
kindred, but if such steps must be taken, then I will take them.
"And we will take those steps together," Eomer promised, pledging the
support of Rohan. "It is as Gimli has already said. Together, it matters
not if we are taken unawares. We can meet any threat."
"You see, Legolas? You are overestimating the threat," Gimli added.
Elven eyes narrowed and Aragorn feared he might have to step between
the two when a commotion outside the tent suddenly caught his attention.
His hand flying to Anduril and loosening it in its scabbard, he hurried
to one of the two tent flaps and stepped outside, noting that Eomer, Gimli,
and Legolas were only a few steps behind him.
"Sire!" Imhran, captain of Gondor’s guard, was racing toward the main
tent, and upon seeing Aragorn emerge, he skidded to a halt and quickly
pointed away from the hidden lake and toward the desert. "Sire, we are
Cries and challenging screams began to hit their ears, and in the predawn
darkness, a line of many horsemen riding hard could be made out. They were
spread wide as though to increase the breadth of their strike as they neared
the encampment. "Raiders!" Aragorn swore, immediately recognizing the pattern
"We’re outnumbered," Legolas said, using his sharp eyes to get a quick
estimation of the size of the force that drew near.
"But they will not use numbers as their primary weapon," Aragorn said,
thinking quickly. "They seek to confuse us and drive us from the horses.
Well, two can use the same strategy. Eomer, get your riders mounted and
lead a charge that will sweep you through their line and beyond it. Then
circle back and engage them. Legolas, your bow would be appreciated in
defending the remaining horses should any raiders bypass our defense. Gimli,
you and I shall lead Gondor in the ground attack."
"Ah, now this diplomacy is more to my liking," Gimli laughed, swinging
his axe and charging after Aragorn as the king raced through the chaos,
calling for his men to follow.
For his part, Aragorn ignored the dwarf. Horse raiders in Harad were
adept at their trade and this would not be an easy attack to repel. He
heard a whistle go up behind him and knew that Eomer was summoning the
Rohirrim. At least there were horses that would not be taken by these thieves,
and Aragorn felt a brief flash of pity for any man that attempted to steal
a horse of Rohan while his rider lived.
Pulling Anduril from its scabbard, he sprinted toward the raiders who
were drawing ever closer to the perimeter of camp. The Rohirrim galloped
past him and he heard Eomer’s voice commanding the charge, breaking the
riders into smaller groups and separating them out so that when they hit
the raiders it would be as a swell of the sea pounding against an eroding
cliff. Knowing very well what was about to happen, Aragorn quickened his
pace and yelled at his following men to do the same.
The Rohirrim slammed into the mounted raiders and swept through them,
not bothering to pause and battle but merely rushing through with the speed
of the wind and inflicting as much damage as such a brief contact would
allow. Startled by this sudden rush and also by its sudden end, many of
the raiders’ horses reared in fright, unseating their masters. Still others
fell, wounded by the quick swords and spears of the Rohirrim. And then
Aragorn and his men hit the group.
Already stunned by the ferocity and speed of Rohan’s attack, the raiders
tried heroically to prepare themselves for the rush of Aragorn, Gimli,
and Gondor. To their credit, they recovered faster than Aragorn had hoped
they would. Grossly outnumbered and with some of the raiders still on horseback,
Aragorn and many of his men soon found themselves beset on all sides. Shouting
to his men, Aragorn began leading an organized retreat back toward the
camp, buying enough time for the Rohirrim to circle around and charge back
"Down!" a voice suddenly commanded to Aragorn’s right. Without hesitation,
Aragorn parried a sword blow and ducked. Gimli’s axe whistled overhead
and sliced through an attacker who’d come up behind Aragorn.
"My thanks, son of Gloin," Aragorn called, immediately straightening
and blocking another sword blow before moving into a more offensive position
and offering an attack of his own. Right, left, and under swung Anduril,
and the raider soon received a sword to the stomach. Pulling his sword
back, Aragorn spun and caught a descending blade on the hilt, trapping
it between sword and hilt guard. Pushing forward, Aragorn knocked the attacking
man onto his back and sliced downward. Then he hit the ground and rolled
to the side, barely missing a thrown spear. Coming out of the roll onto
his feet, his left hand reached back, seized the spear haft, and launched
it back at its source. The scream of a horse indicated he had scored a
hit and Aragorn would have followed up on his advantage had he not heard
"To me!" Aragorn shouted, summoning the men of Gondor. "Back! The Rohirrim
His commands were not a moment too soon, for Eomer and his riders hit
the rearguard of the raiders like a violent and furious storm, driving
the attacking force forward in a mass of confusion. Raiders rushed past
Aragorn as they realized it was folly to answer a two-front attack, and
Aragorn realized they were making a beeline for the camp.
Two bodies were suddenly launched over Aragorn and then Gimli was at
his side, bloody axe raised high. "They’re going for the tents!" the dwarf
"Enough of them have been unhorsed that finding new mounts is their
only means of escape," Aragorn yelled back, breaking into a run and swinging
Anduril abruptly to the side as a large raider bore down on them.
"Let us hope that Legolas’s arrows fly as true as they ever have," Gimli
said, skidding to a halt and swinging his axe backward into the face of
an oncoming opponent. "I fear we will not be able to turn all who run his
"I saw some of the delegates from Harad going for their swords ere we
rushed the raiders," Aragorn said, jumping away from a swinging mace and
moving quickly back in before his attacker could recover from the missed
blow. "I do not think Legolas stands alone before the horses. The Haradrim
have as much to lose as we do. Without horses, they will not reach Haradhur
"All the same, let us see if we can make our way toward the elf," Gimli
advised, ducking beneath a blow and turning axe to knock the legs out from
under two raiders. "From afar he is not to be matched, but in close combat
he leaves much to be desired."
"I believe jealousy is speaking, Gimli," Aragorn said with a small laugh,
slamming his shoulder into one man while catching another’s throat with
Anduril. "I have seen Legolas use his knife in close quarters, and it is
a sight to behold. Still, you are right. He is better when his enemies
keep their distance. But I am curious," he continued, jumping back from
a sword strike and swinging hard with the pommel of his own sword, "as
to how you intend to get back to Legolas."
"Ho, Aragorn!" a new voice called before the dwarf was given a chance
to answer. Eomer swerved Shade toward Aragorn and Gimli, dispatching raiders
with his sword while his war-horse neighed in challenge and trampled those
who would not flee before him.
"Eomer, can you send a detachment back to the encampment to deal with
those who have been unhorsed?" Aragorn called. He wished he’d taken the
time to mount Arnor so that he could have a better view of the battle,
but it was a little late for that now.
"I have already done so," Eomer called, shifting his weight as Shade
reared and struck out at an attacker. "Arhelm leads the charge, but Legolas,
Dashnir, and Garat seem to be holding their own before the tents." The
king of the Rohirrim seemed about to say something else, but he suddenly
cursed and threw his hand up before his eyes. The sun shot over the horizon,
filling the desert with a blinding light and a sudden rise in temperature.
The raiders all cried aloud and something akin to a retreat began to
take place, though it was more of a rout than an ordered disengagement.
Squinting in the morning light, Aragorn lashed out once more with Anduril
and stepped back, watching as the raiders began to flee across the desert.
His sharp eyes watched for signs than any horses had been stolen, but he
noted with satisfaction that most of those fleeing before the sun were
on foot. As a first lesson to those in Harad, this raid had worked quite
favorably on the behalf of Gondor and Rohan.
"How will they survive in the desert?" Gimli wondered, also watching
the departing raiders. "I feel the sun as a burning fire already, and it
has but recently risen. Are they so accustomed to heat and lack of water
that they may endure the day without shelter?"
"No. They are more used to the desert than we and so have a greater
degree of tolerance, but they are still men and as such they have their
limits. I know of no one in Harad who would dare the wrath of the summer
sun during the day. In winter some will be about during the day, but never
in the summer months."
"Then how is it that they flee away from a source of water?" Eomer asked,
having overheard both the question and the answer."
"They must have a base near this hidden lake," Aragorn mused. "They
would not have lingered until dawn unless they were near a place of refuge.
And there they would have stored water so that the heat would not sap their
strength." He fell silent for a moment and then shook his head. "In truth,
it matters not, for we will depart this evening once the sun sets, and
they will not have the time to attack us again. Come. Let us seek our own
shelter ere the sun rises higher."
He started off and Gimli fell into step beside him while Eomer slowed
Shade’s pace so that he would remain at their side. But only a few seconds
later, the king of the Mark froze, cursed loudly, and then urged Shade
forward. Responding to the suddenness of his master’s command, Shade reared
and took off toward the camp, raising a cloud of dust in his wake that
had Aragorn and Gimli coughing.
"What have I always said concerning horses?" the dwarf wheezed, waving
his hands in a futile effort to clear the air before him.
"Peace," Aragorn ordered, shading his eyes and, despite the lingering
cloud, attempting to seek out what had commanded Eomer’s attention. The
dust was beginning to settle, but Aragorn could still not see what had
caused his friend to respond in such a manner. Perhaps…
And then he saw it. With a soft gasp, he started to run, heedless of
Gimli’s demands for an explanation. When the dwarf’s voice stopped suddenly
to be replaced by hurrying feet, Aragorn knew Gimli had seen for himself
what had happened. Praying that they would not arrive too late, the king
of Gondor increased his pace and shot toward the camp like an arrow released
from a tight bow. And behind him, merciless and unforgiving, the sun climbed
higher into the sky, uncaring of anything that played out on the parched
desert land beneath its fiery gaze.
* * * *
Legolas pulled an arrow from his quiver and sighted along its smooth
shaft, listening to the sounds of pounding hooves and running feet. As
an archer, he was used to having slightly more time to prepare if an enemy
was sighted from afar, and he knew well how to use such time. Examining
the tent where even now most of the horses of Gondor were housed, he judged
his bow would be of most use one hundred yards in front of the tent. After
measuring this, he turned to the desert and gauged the distance. The attacking
raiders were still too far away for his bow, but he fit an arrow to it
anyway. The moment one did come within range, he would be ready.
"What chaos goes forth this night?" someone demanded behind him. "The
sun is near to rising!"
The elf glanced over his shoulder, though he had already identified
the speaker, and narrowed his eyes. "Can you not see for yourself? We are
"Forgive Fastahn," a new voice said. Dashnir came forward, his sword
already drawn and his eyes glittering darkly in the fading starlight. "The
people of the Soltari tribe are but farmers and traders. They know nothing
of raids or defense."
Fastahn bristled slightly at this insult, but Garat moved forward then
and placed a heavy hand on Fastahn’s shoulder. "Step back," he said quietly.
There was a flash of metal and two knives appeared in Garat’s hands, though
from whence they had come even Legolas could not say with certainty. "This
is the realm of the warrior, not the farmer," Garat murmured. "If you wish
to be of assistance, watch the horses. See that they do not panic."
"I am able to hold my own in battle," Fastahn declared indignantly.
"But the horses do not know what goes forth," Garat reasoned, forcefully
turning Fastahn around. "Come, someone must stay with them. If you know
nothing else, you are at least aware of this much. The raiders shall try
to drive them from the tents."
Unable to counter this logic and aware that there was a danger to the
horses, Fastahn grumbled a low curse in his own tongue and walked away.
"So you are an archer, Prince Legolas?" Dashnir inquired, keeping his
eyes on the Rohirrim as they drew nigh unto the coming raiders.
"I am many things," Legolas answered, also refusing to take his eyes
from desert. "In the case of war, I am first an archer. If need be, though,
I am equally capable of taking up another weapon."
Dashnir nodded and moved as if to speak, but then he stopped. The first
line of the Rohirrim had met the raiders. Without slackening their speed,
spears and swords gleamed in the starlight of predawn darkness. Cries could
be heard and then the Rohirrim were through, sweeping to the left and beginning
to turn a wide circle.
"Why do they run?" Garat demanded, moving forward involuntarily. "They
have unhorsed many of the raiders. Why do they not stop to finish the job?"
"If you cannot guess, then watch," Legolas commanded, bringing his bow
up to bear. It would not be long before his targets stumbled into range.
His eyes followed the figures in the desert closely as Aragorn, Gimli,
and the forces of Gondor met with the raiders, and the elf’s sharp ears
could hear the clashing of swords.
"They seek to confuse them," Garat said, finally grasping the gist of
Aragorn’s strategy. Legolas discerned a reluctant admiration in the man’s
voice, and he wondered why it was so difficult to express praise. "Rohan
shall attack the flank as it circles back," Garat continued, thinking through
the plan of attack. "But I see a danger. In the confusion, many of the
raiders will be forced through Gondor’s men and be free to attack the camp."
"Which is why I was left here," Legolas explained, drawing the string
back on his bow. The Rohirrim would complete their circle soon. He glanced
quickly at Dashnir and Garat, noting their position in relation to the
tent that he’d been tasked with protecting. It was then that he came to
a sudden realization. "Where is the remainder of your delegation?" the
elf asked sharply, looking about the camp. "You and Garat are here, Fastahn
has gone back to the horses, but that leaves five unaccounted for."
"You are right. They are not all here, yet where they are I cannot say,"
Dashnir answered quietly.
At this statement, Legolas’s elven senses flared to life, detecting
a false note in Dashnir’s voice. But what cause would the man have for
deceiving the elf about something like this? The horses of the delegation
were also in danger. Or were they? The elf frowned as he thought about
this. Deciding to follow his nagging suspicions, the prince began to formulate
possible explanations even as he continued to watch the battle in the desert.
What if this raid was not the work of rogue tribes but something larger?
What if the delegation itself was responsible in part? But if that were
so, then why would Dashnir and Garat be fighting beside him? They were
the two most likely to instigate such an attack, at least to the elf’s
mind. Legolas shook his head, trying to make some sense out of what appeared
to be madness.
"Some of the delegation went to patrol the western desert, for raiders
are known to frequent the seashore," Dashnir was saying, "but I do not
think they all left. Certainly if they knew of this attack they would be
The elf narrowed his eyes, but he said nothing, instead considering
the situation. Dashnir was hiding something, that much was obvious. And
a quick glance at Garat revealed that he was also hiding something. But
what would they be hiding? And how would it tell on the outcome of this
battle? He looked again into the desert and saw that the Rohirrim were
seconds away from the rearguard of the raiders. The men of Gondor were
hard-pressed but holding their own for now. That would all change in a
moment, and Legolas tensed, waiting for the raiders to be split, sundered,
With Eomer in the lead, Rohan’s riders hit the raiders in the back with
all the force of an angry ocean. Unable to face the attacking war-horses
or the hale men who could master such creatures, the raiders stumbled forward,
preferring to face the foot soldiers from Gondor. But the Rohirrim pressed
hard and fast, and most were driven beyond even Gondor’s forces. Realizing
they were trapped behind a host of fierce defenders and before an encampment
in which were housed horses, most raced toward the tents by the lake.
This was what Legolas had been waiting for. Not that he had looked forward
to this with great anticipation, but he had been expecting it and so waiting
for it. In truth, he had never been great fan of battles. He was a capable
enough warrior as far as elven standards went, which put him above most
warriors from other Races, and in archery he was almost unequaled. But
the social status and favors granted renowned soldiers among his people
had never held much importance for Legolas. His father did not understand
this and had pushed his youngest son harder in the study of battle as a
result, thinking that if Legolas triumphed on the field he would come to
understand the value of a warrior. But though Legolas had enjoyed many
victories and though he had mastered the craft of wielding almost every
weapon his father could find to place before him, he still gave his love
to the peace of the forests and the solace of the trees. Perhaps that was
why the bow and arrow had become his chosen weapons. Somewhat removed from
the immediate battle, archery was a way of detaching himself from the realities
of war and dealing necessary death in a quick and kindly fashion, if such
a thing could be said of killing.
So murmuring a quick prayer to Elbereth and stealing himself against
the battle that was about to come to him, Legolas decided on his primary
targets and fired. His first arrow sang through the air, arcing gracefully
in seeming mockery of its deadly intent and descending into the throat
of the first raider. The elf’s second arrow was released before his first
arrow actually struck and a second raider went down, mortally wounded.
Arrows three and four were shot simultaneously at a pair of raiders and
they hit the desert floor not knowing what demon had felled them. Legolas
managed to fire off four more arrows before the bulk of the raiders reached
the camp’s perimeter, and after that, he quickly changed his strategy.
Keeping his bow in his left hand, his long silver-hafted knife appeared
in his right, and he lunged toward a raider who drew too close, ducking
the spray of blood that followed his attack. He swung his bow outward and
tripped up yet another raider while he whirled and caught a third raider
before the man could get behind him. Sensing a momentary lull, Legolas
pulled an arrow from his quiver and quickly shot an advancing attacker
with deadly accuracy. Then it was back to knife work, and the elf slid
to one side of a sword thrust and allowed the force of the attack to carry
the man straight onto the point of his knife. Pushing the dying man off
the blade, Legolas seized the sword that had threatened his life, sheathed
his knife, and headed back into battle.
Dashnir and Garat were fighting back to back, taking on any that drew
close and dealing swift death to all who dared oppose them. Legolas started
to fight his way toward the two, seeking to join them in mutual defense,
but a sudden surge in the number of raiders made it difficult. Glancing
into the desert, he saw that part of the Rohirrim had broken away from
the main battle and were racing back to the encampment to aid them. Their
help would be greatly appreciated when it arrived, but in the meantime,
it was hastening the raiders and giving Legolas, Dashnir, and Garat many
The elf jerked his head in the direction of his name, ducking beneath
a sweeping club at the same time, and saw Dashnir waving urgently.
"Legolas, we must stand together."
The elf sighed and slammed his sword hilt into a man’s face, jumping
back as the raider fell forward. Standing together was easier said than
done, for it involved being together, and at the moment, with several raiders
between himself and Dashnir and Garat, being together was not possible.
"If you can cut a path through this field, you are more than welcome
to join me," Legolas eventually replied, blocking a staff with his bow
and reversing his sword so that the man rushing behind him fell on its
It was then that the Rohirrim arrived. The proud steeds of the Mark
swept through on either side of Legolas and the raiders scattered before
them. Breaking away from the few attackers who remained, Legolas managed
to join Dashnir and Garat who were also given a reprieve from the battle.
"Your forces fight well," Garat said, his tone somewhat reluctant. He
turned eastward and looked into the desert where there was still much fighting
and sighed, relief evident in his voice. "They will disperse soon."
"How do you know this?" Legolas asked, driving his borrowed sword into
the sand and pulling an arrow from his quiver.
"Because of that," Dashnir answered, nodding to the east. And as he
said these words, the sun appeared above the horizon, shooting its glaring
rays into the morning and warning all of the heat that was to come.
The rising of the sun seemed to be a signal for the raiders, and they
shouted and pointed, trying to establish order in chaos. But the Rohirrim
continued to attack and eventually the raiders broke with all established
protocol and fled, knowing that if they did not seek shelter soon, they
would be condemned to a painful death in the deadly heat of the day.
"And so we are welcomed into Harad," Legolas murmured, firing one last
arrow at the fleeing raiders. He watched them for a moment more, considering
the purpose of the attack, and then his elven senses abruptly cried out
Knowing that no danger lay before him, Legolas spun around to counter
whatever threatened him from behind, but he did not spin fast enough. A
hard metal hilt slammed into the side of his head and the light of day
began to fade. Dimming elven eyes filled with both anger and confusion
tried to make out the face of his attacker, and they ultimately came to
rest on Dashnir’s smirking face as he caught the sagging elf in his arms
and lowered him to the sand. Legolas tried to cry out, to sound some kind
of alarm, but he could no longer control his body and the day was growing
ever darker. A shadow fell across his mind and blocked his sight and his
coherency. The elf struggled valiantly, but he felt someone move above
him and then another blow connected with his head. The surrounding world
vanished, and Legolas fell into darkness.
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