10. Chapter Ten
Battle and blood. Not for the faint of heart
The coward believes he will live forever
If he holds back in the battle,
But in old age he shall have no peace
Though spears have spared his limbs
The air was thick of the smell of death and blood, as if nothing else in the world existed. Bodies were scattered about – orcs and humans alike. And though Legolas should be safe on the walls of Helm's Deep, Gimli found himself drawing a sigh of relief every time he saw a body and it was not an elf.
And his axe swung about with renewed hope. His arms were stiff and tired, his head hurt from a blow. Éomer fought nearby, sword glinting sharply in the night. They had been cut off from the walls, forced to retreat to the Dike and find whatever shelter they could from the wave of enemies.
Thirty-five orcs had died by his axe. And soon he would fell his thirty-sixth, for the orc ahead of him was tired and slipping. Very soon it would give the dwarf an opening. Orcs had no patience, which was their great fault. They rushed for the kill, not caring if it was their kill or their death.
The orc hissed, baring its ugly teeth. It was hard to imagine a creature so foul had come from creatures so fair – orcs and elves seemed to be the mirror of opposites.
Finally the opening came, and Gimli thrust his axe forward. It met with flesh, sliding through it swiftly. Blood spilled to the ground, staining the earth and his boots.
Lifting his head, the dwarf stared into the dark eyes of a raven, sitting calmly on the dead body of an orc just a few feet away. His heart froze.
“Nay,” the dwarf whispered fearfully. “You have not come to herald the death of Legolas. You have not. I will not let it happen.”
The bird merely inclined its head, revealing nothing and only reflecting the scenes of death in its eyes. In its eyes Gimli saw the orc coming at him from behind, weapon held high and gleaming with blood.
Ducking, Gimli extended the axe in front, swinging around and up to the exposed side of the orc. The axe lodged into bone and the orc screamed; a scream drowned in blood as it gagged. It fell to the ground, twitching, and Gimli tore his axe free.
And if he returned alive to face his friend again, perhaps... Perhaps... Life was hope, and hope rested in the clear sky-blue eyes of Legolas Greenleaf.
Éomer was fighting two orcs, his sword flashing so quickly it was but a glimmer of steel in the air. Clutching his axe, Gimli went for the right one. It did not see him coming, and moments later it would not see anythng ever again.
Éomer's sword ripped into the other, Gúthwinë finding its mark soundlessly. The orc stumbled and fell and the raven's cry pierced the air.
A moment later there was a great tone in the air, a horn blown. Hooves could be heard among the cries of men. Again sounded the horn, and despair came at the orcs. Throwing their shields and spears, they ran.
Gandalf had come.
Gimli too, ran, following Éomer. The thirty-ninth orc the dwarf struck down as he ran, for it had slipped in a blood pool. Gimli did not pause to think, fear throbbing painfully in his chest, echoing his heartbeats.
Legolas lived. Legolas lived. Legolas lived.
He suddenly realised morning was coming; the sky was already paling and specks of gold promised a coming sunrise. A fair morning it would be, if the night of death was truly over.
Two fleeing orcs were felled with one blow by his axe, his arms gaining extra strength from the promise of morning. His body desired rest, his mind reassurance, his eyes the image of a living elf.
Before him the path began to clear. One last orc stood defiantly, but high up Gimli thought he saw a glimmer of golden hair and his axe sliced through the air to meet metal and flesh. Legolas – Legolas lived.
Forty-two dead orcs by the axe of Gimli. He smiled grimly.
Éomer glanced at him, looking grim but determined.
“That was a heavy blow to the head you had, Master Dwarf. Let me look at it.”
Gimli merely nodded, sinking down on a rock. He felt tired, but strangely awake. The sun had begun to rise, its merry face bringing warmth to his exhausted spirit. Long they had travelled with little rest and a long path awaited them still.
Others having sought shelter in the Dike joined them, some as still as death as they saw fallen friends on the ground. Many had been lost, but perhaps death would bring them peace. Life never did.
Gimli shuddered – fear, relief, strain and wariness were all fighting for control within him. He desired sleep; sleep in the warm embrace of someone he could not have.
“No permanent hurt done,” Éomer said gently, fastening a linen band around the dwarf's head. “Your axe is sharp and well-wielded, Gimli, son of Glóin.”
The dwarf got up and bowed low, before following the others to the gathering of the victors on the fair grass. Unstained it was by blood, as by strange chance.
And there, standing tall next to Gandalf and Aragorn was Legolas. The dwarf drank in the sight, wondering if his eyes would betray him. It did not matter now. All that mattered was that he lived and the elf lived, and the raven's song had not been for them. Not yet.
And Legolas's glance met his across the host of men; the elf's eyes warm and inviting and as blue as the morning sky.
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.