1. In From The Storm
Elrond pulled his cloak tighter about his ears as he fought to push forward against the driving rain but it was useless. Even the close woven Elven cloth was sodden and heavy, the folds clinging icily to his already frozen body.
“By Elbereth!” he cursed the night sky, “Can the heavens hold so much water?”
What had possessed him to come out here in the first place? Fool! Giving in to a yearning to wander alone in the Misty Mountains as he had in his younger days. Yes, the ring was destroyed but the foul creatures of Sauron and Saruman still roamed the land. And this storm? Where had it come from?
He squinted, trying to wipe the water from his face with a dripping hand. Was that a cave up ahead?
Inch by soaking inch he dragged himself towards the dark opening in the rain-drenched rock face, stumbling gratefully inside, and pushing back his saturated hood.
The relief to be out of the relentless rain was so great that it took a moment for him to realise that a fire burned in the cave, and he was not alone.
“Elf!” The voice hissed menacingly.
Elrond whirled, drawing his blade.
Laughter rumbled, and from the darkness beyond the flames a creature emerged.
“Orch!” Elrond expelled the word, as if it sickened him.
“Don’t insult me!” He took half a step forward, and Elrond’s eyes could see that here was indeed no ordinary Orc. “I am Uglúk, greatest of all the Uruk-Hai.” He stood as tall as the Elf-Lord himself, his chest wide and shoulders broad. His body, straight and strong, glistened in the dark and his eyes shone, every inch of him a fearsome fighter.
Elrond hefted his sword, and cast his eyes back to the mouth of the cave, outside the rain pelted unceasingly.
“Yes,” rasped his companion, “Tricky, is it not? Go back to face the storm, or fight me for the cave.”
Elrond set his jaw, and narrowed his eyes.
The Uruk limped another half-step forward, his dark sabre glinting in the firelight. “That’s right, Elf,” he spat, “I am injured, but I can still take you down.” He stood for a moment, assessing the other. The Elf was tall and strong, no sapling here but an experienced warrior. And in his grey eyes, no shadow of fear lurked.
He growled to himself. It was a bad situation. He might take the Elf, but not without further injury – damn the storm that had holed him up in this place! Lidding his eyes, he thought for a moment before speaking again. “There is a third choice.”
Elrond lifted his chin suspiciously . “And why would I trust you?”
“Why would I trust you?” retorted the other. “Because we both of us wish to live to see the dawn.”
Elrond lowered his sword slowly. “What oath can you swear me, that you will not break?”
Long and loud was the laugh of the Uruk-Hai. “None, Master Elf, for I serve no master, and bow before no gods.”
The Elf stood waiting.
The Great Orc staggered forward another step. “It takes the greater courage to trust first,” and he flung his blade, tumbling through the air, far out of the cave mouth into the dark, storm-tossed night.
Elrond’s eyes widened with surprise, and the cave rumbled again with Orcish laughter.
“Come then,” said the other, easing himself down beside the fire, “either attack me now, go back into the rain or join me. The choice is yours.”
Slowly, and to his own amazement, Elrond set his sword against the cave wall, came forward and held out his hands to the fire. The heat was good.
After a few minutes he stood up and peeled off his sodden cloak, then settled himself down opposite the Uruk.
Uglúk smiled, his fanged teeth glinting in the red light. “So then, I have given you my name, have you the same courtesy for me?”
It was Elrond’s turn to laugh, never in all his years having thought to hear the word ‘courtesy’ from one such as this.
“I am Elrond the Peredhil, Lord of Imladris.”
“Master Elrond,” his opponent savoured the name, “first among the Elf-Lords, I am honoured indeed.” He shifted his position, and his breath hissed with pain.
“You have an injury.”
“It is nothing.”
“Will you let me look at it?”
The Orc leaned forward into the firelight, and gazed intently at his opponent. The face of the Elf was so beautiful, so perfect and somehow, so familiar.
He grunted an assent, and the Lord of Imladris moved to his side of the fire.
Elrond knelt down beside the Uruk. The injury was an arrow in the thigh, the haft broken off. Gently as he could he peeled back the cloth surrounding it, the wound was clotted and thick. He probed for the arrowhead, his companion’s breath hissed but he made no other cry. Finding what he sought, Elrond drew a small knife from his belt. He glanced up at the Orc, who only smiled his terrible smile, then the Elf cut quickly and deep to release the arrow.
A snarl rose unbidden to the Uruk’s throat, but it was quickly quelled. Casting aside the bloody arrowhead, Elrond anointed and deftly bound the wound, wrapping cloth firmly around the powerful thigh.
“Aaah!” Uglúk breathed easier, and nodded a grudging thanks to his unlikely guest.
“I am sorry,” the Elf said, “I have nothing to give you for the pain.”
“Ha!” returned the other. “I feel none.”
“No,” replied Elrond, an amused smile quirking his lips, “I suppose you do not.”
“However,” continued the other, “I do have a refreshing drink with me.” He produced a flask, and offered it to the Elf-Lord.
Elrond took the flask and smelled it cautiously.
“Come now!” mocked the Orc, “I have just let you slice me up with your Elven knife, and you balk at a little drink?”
Stung, Elrond placed the flask to his mouth and took a deep swallow before handing it back.
Uglúk grinned, tipped back his head and took a long draught.
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.