7. Amongst The Rubble
Chapter Six: Amongst the Rubble
Aragorn was tired. He had been down near where the men were digging out the tunnel for hours now. Progress was being made, but so far there was no sign of Legolas or Gimli. They had no idea how far into the blocked cavern the friends were, and there was always the possibility that they were sitting unharmed further into the caves, giving each other fits about being trapped.
But Aragorn's senses were screaming that this was not the case. The measure of foresight granted him had never proven wrong, though he hoped in this case it might be the first time.
Working with as much haste as was safely possible, the men were scrambling about the shadowed tunnel. Rocks were being loaded into carts, which had been brought to remove the debris that was being dug out of the tunnel ahead. Having very little experience in these matters himself, Aragorn was feeling rather useless at the moment. Looking up, he saw Captain Arnorion walking towards him. The man had a grim look on his face.
"My king, you should take some rest. It may be many hours before we find anything. If Lord Legolas or Lord Gimli are injured, they will need your skills, and you will be of no aid to them if you are exhausted."
Aragorn knew his captain was right. It was now late in the night, but he decided would not go back to the citadel. He did not want to be that far away from news when it came. Nodding at the stern looking man before him, Aragorn moved back towards the storage rooms and found a cot set up there. It seemed Arnorion had anticipated his king's mind. Laying down, Aragorn fell into a troubled sleep.
- o -
Noise of some kind roused Gimli, and he struggled to open his eyes. It took him a minute to realize he had managed it as he could see nothing. All lay in darkness. The agonizing pain in his leg brought the memory of what had occurred back to him and his immediate concern was for his friend.
Legolas! Gimli reached for the hand he must have dropped while he slept. "Legolas?" Gimli spoke into the darkness, his hand searching amongst the rubble on the floor for the elf. Legolas had not moved from his previous position, and that troubled Gimli greatly. Laying a hand on his friend, Gimli shook his shoulder gently, "Legolas! Wake up. Come, my friend, you cannot sleep all day!" Or night, he thought, knowing instinctively that hours had passed while they were unconscious in the blackness of the collapsed cavern.
Getting no response to his calls and touch, Gimli frowned. What a fine cauldron of hot iron they had managed to get themselves into this time! After not seeing his friend for a year, he was reunited with Legolas to end up here? The last few days had seemed like old times; Legolas had no longer seemed to be so seriously haunted by the sea. Their bantering had progressed from grumbling to lively jabs, and even Aragorn had joined them in some of the spirited discussions the past couple of evenings.
The noise came again, a grating sound that Gimli recognized as stone being moved and not by natural means. His heart rejoiced to hear it. Someone was coming for them. It might still be many hours before they made it through, but they were coming and that was enough. Listening to the sound and how it echoed around him, Gimli realized the cavern was still quite open. Perhaps, the cave-in was not as bad as he had originally thought. He was sure the floor would be covered in the rubble from where the ceiling had collapsed, but there was a feel of open air around him. Much of the dust that had filled the air earlier had also settled, making it easier to breathe and giving Gimli an idea of just how long he slept.
Unconsciousness was reaching for him again, dragging him down into oblivion. Trying to ignore the pain shooting, no, screamingin his leg, Gimli reached again for Legolas's hand and tried to settle as comfortably as he could amid the debris. He fought the pull of sleep, knowing that soon he would be able to call out and be heard.
- o -
"King Elessar? My lord, wake up." Aragorn struggled back to alertness. Blinking his eyes open, he found himself looking up at Captain Arnorion. He immediately sat up, throwing off the last vestiges of sleep.
"What is it? Have you found something?" Aragorn questioned the man before him anxiously.
"Yes, my lord. We have broken into a cavern. It may be awhile yet before we can actually get in there. The men digging informed me that as soon as they got a small hole open, they were able to hear Lord Gimli calling out." The captain stopped speaking when Aragorn jumped up and headed towards the rescuers at a run.
Aragorn's heart was racing as he was led to where the small opening had been made in the pile of rocks shutting the cavern off from the tunnel. He could hear voices coming from ahead, and when he reached the place, the men surrounding it stepped back, allowing him to speak to his friend.
"Gimli!" he called. "Are you well? Is Legolas with you?" Aragorn could not stop the questions from tumbling out of his mouth. He had to force himself to pause for a response.
A voice came back faintly through the small opening. "Aragorn? By Mahal! About time you showed up, lad." The dwarf's voice was strained, and Aragorn immediately sensed he was in pain. "Legolas is here, but he is unconscious. He got hit on the head pretty hard. I was able to stop the bleeding, but I cannot do much, stuck as I am."
"Stuck?" Aragorn asked. "Are you hurt?"
"Aye." The answer echoed back and Aragorn cringed, dreading to hear how badly his friends had been injured. "It would seem my leg is trapped under a boulder and I believe it is broken. A few bruises and scrapes. All considered, I'm just happy to be alive at the moment." There was relief in the dwarf's voice, and hope.
"And what of Legolas? Anything other than the head injury?" Aragorn wanted to be prepared to treat the two as soon as the way was cleared enough for him to squeeze through.
"I cannot examine him very well, Aragorn. I can only reach so far. I am concerned since he has not awakened since he was struck. That was hours ago." The words were not heartening, and Aragorn could hear the fear and concern in the dwarf's voice. Not something Gimli showed easily.
Realizing he was now hindering the rescuers by being in the way, Aragorn offered a few more words of encouragement before he stepped out of the way. "Hang on, my friend. We will get you out of there and patched up shortly." Moving back, he allowed the men continue working unhindered. It would take some more time, but now there was much cheerfulness among those working. The subjects of their search had been found...alive.
A little less than an hour later, the men had made the opening large enough to crawl through. Aragorn entered first, a torch held before him in one hand and his healing pack slung over his shoulder. Captain Arnorion joined him while the others continued with the rock removal.
"Keep speaking, Gimli. Where are you?" Aragorn called out, searching for any sign of his friends in the rock and boulder strewn cavern.
"Over here," a tired, pained voice called.
Aragorn moved towards the sound, but he came to a stop as the light from his torch illuminated two figures not far in front of him. Gimli was lying on the floor surrounded by broken pieces of stone, a rather large boulder pinning his left leg to the ground. There was blood coming from underneath the rock, and Aragorn feared the limb might be crushed. He could not imagine the amount of pain Gimli was in at the moment, but he was immediately thankful Mahal had made the dwarves so hardy. Gimli, though pale and obviously in considerable pain, was at least conscious and coherent.
Moving closer, Aragorn felt his heart stop and his breath catch in his throat. The elf behind Gimli looked like death. Never had he seen Legolas look so pale and gray! The elf was lying on right side facing Gimli, his face bruised, his eyes tightly closed and his fair hair mingled with quite a bit of blood. Behind the elf Aragorn could see a large rock, and he hoped that was not what had hit his friend's head.
Moving as quickly to his friends as possible, he knelt down next to the elf, reaching out to check for a pulse. He resumed breathing when he actually found one. Though it was not strong, it was steady.
"Aragorn?" Gimli asked, obviously fearful now that he could actually see his companion and the severity of his injuries.
"He's alive." Aragorn replied, looking up and placing a hand on the dwarf's shoulder. Footsteps behind him brought the man around on his heels to face Arnorion. "Get some of the men in here to remove this boulder and bring the supplies for splinting back with you," he told the captain.
Arnorion spun back around, darting back to the enlarging opening through which they had entered. Aragorn watched him a moment, then turned to meet Gimli's eyes.
Speaking softly, he offered what comfort he could at the moment. "Would you like something for the pain." He was surprised, but thankful, when the dwarf nodded.
"Only after you've seen to Legolas." Gimli was quick to add.
Aragorn nodded, turning back to examine the unconscious elf. He was displeased by what he found. Legolas had multiple bruises, some severe, along with several abrasions and a gash on his lower left leg. In fact, all of the significant injuries Aragorn found were on the elf's left side. There were two cracked ribs, the arm was broken below the elbow. The hip was severely bruised and possibly broken as well. Carefully easing the elf to his back, Aragorn checked the right side to find only some light bruising. It appeared as though Legolas had been hit, possibly by the large rock behind him, after he had fallen on his side. Thankfully, this probably meant the rock was not what had knocked the elf unconscious.
So far, all of these injuries, while not minor, were not that disabling for an elf. They would heal quickly with proper care. Aragorn adjusted Legolas cautiously, so that he could see the head wound.
"How bad is he, Aragorn? Do not try to spare me, I want the truth. I can handle it." Gimli was anxious for some information.
"Two cracked ribs on the left side. The left arm is broken, possibly the left hip as well." Aragorn responded as an experienced healer, detached and calm. His manner seemed to ease the dwarf's mind somewhat. As he continued probing the large gash on the back of Legolas' head, his stomach turned as he realized the extent of the injury.
"Ai, Gimli, this is notgood," Aragorn spoke suddenly, startling the dwarf next to him. Looking up, Aragorn cast a fearful look at his friend, trying to remain calm. Still, his voice broke as he spoke again.
"His skull is fractured, Gimli."
To Be Continued…
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.