8. The Sun Still Rises
Chapter Seven: The Sun Still Rises
Gimli did not think he could breathe. Surely he had heard wrong? He blinked, but the look on Aragorn's face told him that he had heard the man correctly. As it sunk in, Gimli felt great fear rise up in his chest. It felt like his heart had stopped. Forcing himself to take a deep breath, he told himself that he needed to remain calm. He also needed to know exactly what Aragorn had said meant for his friend. Elves were hardier than even dwarves, but that did not mean they did not die from severe injuries.
"What does that mean, Aragorn?" Gimli asked. He hesitated to ask more, but he had to know. "Is he—" His voice turned hoarse and he swallowed hard. "Is he going to...die?" How it hurt to ask that question! But he had to know. The look of uncertainty on Aragorn's face was not reassuring.
"To be honest, Gimli, I do not know. It depends on the extent of the damage done to his brain. It is not surprising he has not regained consciousness." Aragorn paused as if he were unsure of his next words. "It is possible he might remain unconscious for quite a while, and we must be prepared for the chance that permanent damage has been done. I need to get him to Houses of Healing as soon as I can."
In a matter of seconds Gimli's heart had gone from feeling as if it had stopped beating to pounding frantically, which made his leg hurt all the more. "What kind of permanent damage? Explain, Aragorn," Gimli demanded. He felt he was going to be ill. This could not be happening! The elf could not die like this! Not after he had cajoled Legolas into coming into these caves.
"This is a very serious head injury, Gimli. I do not know if he will survive, though the fact that he was not killed instantly and still lingers after so many hours gives me hope. He has a hard head, after all, but I cannot say for certain what will happen. I just do not know." Aragorn took a deep breath and continued, "If he survives, there could be permanent injury to his brain, though how that would manifest we will not know until he wakes."
"But Gimli," Aragorn paused, closing his eyes and taking a deep breath. "He may never wake up or if he does, he may not be the same Legolas we have known. I have seen such a thing before; a Ranger fell from a height and when he woke, he had no remembrance of his past and never recovered it. His entire personality changed. It was like the person he had been had never existed. But then I have seen others wake and be fine in time. There is no way to say for certain; only time will answer these questions."
Gimli assumed Aragorn's detached healer side was back in control. How else could the man say all of that so calmly? The pain in Gimli's leg was becoming unbearable as his heart raced. Aragorn looked at him for a moment then pulled out a couple of leaves from his pack while eyeing Gimli speculatively, as if gauging how much of a fight Gimli would put up to taking the herbs. It hurt his pride to take them, but Gimli could not think with the growing pain and he knew the leaves would help alleviate it, so he took them without protest. They tasted terrible.
Captain Arnorion returned with several men, and they quietly discussed how to remove the boulder without causing Gimli's leg further damage. The men eyed the large stone, debating whether it should be lifted or rolled off, which irritated Gimli to know end. He was a dwarf, more experienced than any of them in stone work, but they did not ask for his input, and in his worry for his friend, he did not offer any. He glanced over at Legolas and saw that Aragorn was splinting the elf's broken arm.
When Aragorn had finished his task, he called another over and instructed him to bring a litter to carry Legolas out. It seemed that they had been prepared for this possibility, and it did not take long for the man to return. Carefully they lifted the elf, slid the litter beneath him and then lowered Legolas back down onto it. Aragorn used bandages to secure Legolas's head to the poles, preventing it from lolling as he was carried and causing more damage. Then two men cautiously hoisted the ends and started to carry it out, being very careful not to jar their burden. Aragorn turned to follow, but stopped and glanced back at Gimli, looking torn.
"Go with him, Aragorn," Gimli told him. "He needs you far more than I do. Another healer can care for this leg of mine, but only you should tend to Legolas. I trust you, lad. If anyone can pull him through this, you can. Just make sure you put him in a room that has two beds. Prince or not, he is going to have a dwarf for company when he wakes up." Gimli sounded more confident then he felt, for he did not want to be separated from Legolas with the elf in such a condition. What if his friend died, and he was not there to say goodbye?
No! Gimli would not think about that. Aragorn could do nothing for Legolas here, and being pinned by the boulder meant Gimli personally would not be going anywhere just yet. "Take care of him. I will be there as soon as I can."
Aragorn gave him a nod, then turned and followed the litter out of the room, back through the now large opening in the fallen rock. Gimli watched until he was out of sight. A sudden yawn overtook him, and he realized he felt very tired.
Tired? Gimli glared at the opening Aragorn had disappeared through. He should have known the man would give him something to knock him out. A muttered curse started to leave his lips, but was cut short as another yawn overtook him. You know better than taking anything from a healer…
Captain Arnorion and the other men in the cavern worked for several minutes arranging a couple of boards for leverage under the boulder they needed to move. While placing them, Arnorion was very relieved to discover that the boulder was resting not only on Lord Gimli's leg, but there were a couple of rocks under it as well, keeping the dwarf's leg from being completely crushed.
As they prepared to lift the boulder, Arnorion looked down at the dwarf to tell him they were ready and to brace himself. As it was, he smiled when he realized what had happened. The dwarf was deep in a drugged sleep thanks to whatever it was the king had given him to relieve the pain. Arnorion was relieved, for it would make this process so much easier if Lord Gimli were unconscious, and Arnorion appreciated the king's foresight.
Once the boulder had been cautiously moved out of the way, Arnorion prepared to splint the dwarf's leg. Thankfully, the bone was not protruding as he had feared; rather there was a deep cut from another rock that had caused the bleeding he had seen. Lord Gimli had been blessed in this mishap, for earlier, the man had been sure the dwarf would lose his leg. Now it looked as if with time, Lord Gimli would heal. Using much care, Arnorion wrapped bandages around the leg and the thin boards they had brought to use as a splint, then using the same care used on Lord Legolas, they lifted the dwarf onto a litter and proceeded to carry him out of the cavern.
Oblivious to the world around him, Gimli was on his way to joining his friend in the Houses of Healing. As they lifted him into a waiting wagon, the sun peeked over the horizon, offering its warm rays as a beacon of hope.
Arwen was a little at a loss, and she did not like to be at a loss. Her husband was missing, and that alone caused her some worry, but worse, she could not find anyone who knew where he was. When she had returned the previous evening from Ithilien, she had expected a warm reunion with her heart's love, as she had been away for two weeks and had missed him terribly. But he was not there to meet her.
The guard who had taken the queen's horse had just come on duty and did not know where the king could be found, so she headed to their rooms, only to find them empty. The king's office was also unoccupied, as well as the private gardens. Knowing Gimli was visiting and it was most likely that he had forgotten the day of her return, she had given up on finding him and had gone to bed alone and irate.
But when she had awakened at dawn, he was still not there. Her anger faded as worry began to take its place. Something was not right. Her husband was no where to be found in the palace. Continuing to search for anyone who had information on the missing king, she found that none of the servants had any idea where the king was detained or to what purpose. Resigned that she would be told in time, Arwen went back to their rooms to wait. If something was wrong, someone would come to tell her…she hoped.
A short while later, when still no word had come and she had begun to pace the rooms and decided she might as well pace the halls, Arwen ventured out to look again. She did not have to look far, for coming down the hall towards her was one of the king's captains, Arnorion. He stopped before her and she felt her stomach drop.
"Where is the king?" she asked. "What has happened?" Arwen was sure something terrible must have befallen him, for surely nothing else would cause such a grim expression on this man's face.
"Fear not, my lady, the king is hale. He is in the Houses of Healing with Prince Legolas and Lord Gimli. Both were severely injured when the ceiling collapsed in one of the new caverns yesterday afternoon. We only managed to get them out about an hour ago. The king is working on Prince Legolas. He took a severe blow to the head, my lady."
Arnorion's explanation, though it brought relief that Aragorn was not injured, caused her worry to return when she heard of her friends' condition.
Arnorion continued. "The king remembered that you were due to arrive last eve and sent me to ask that you come. He requires your aid for he fears Prince Legolas may not survive."
Arwen felt horrified. Legolas on the brink of death? They had been friends since the prince was barely past his majority and the thought of losing him caused a tightness to build in her chest.
"Thank you for coming for me, Arnorion," she told the captain, even as she turned and hastily made her way out of the palace. As she hurried to the Houses of Healing, she was vaguely aware that the captain had followed her, shooing away other guards.
Aragorn had not been in the Houses of Healing for very long, for they had taken the trip very slowly to avoid jarring the injured elf. In the brighter light of morning, he took a second look at the terrible head injury and felt dismay fill him. He simply did not know if Legolas could survive or if he did in what condition.
The door opened, and Aragorn looked up, finding his wife entering the room. He could not remember the last time he had been so glad to see Arwen's face. He needed someone as skilled as the daughter of Elrond to assist him. She took one look at Legolas and paled as she took in their friend's injuries. Then up went her chin as determination filled her expression. His lips quirked slightly. Legolas would not slip away from them without a fight and one simply did not deny the daughter of Elrond anything she wanted. Without a word between them, they set to work.
Another healer entered the room with a bowl of warm water and clean cloths, which he put them on a table before standing back. If they needed anything, he would fetch it, Aragorn knew. In the meantime, it was better if no one else got in the way of their work.
Aragorn found it took all the skill both he and Arwen possessed to keep their friend with them. At one point, he feared it was a hopeless battle, but Legolas was strong and would not give up without a fight. Many hours they spent working over the elf, until finally, there was nothing else they could do, other than to stitch up the gash and bind the elf's head. He was concerned about the internal bleeding, but he had done all he could do for now.
Throughout the procedures, Aragorn had taken care not to cut more of the elf's hair than necessary…only enough so that he could see what he was doing. The last thing they needed was an irate prince on their hands if he woke and found his head shaved completely. Provided he woke, of course. Thankfully, all that had needed to be cut would be covered and hardly noticeable, for the man did not want to be on the receiving end of Legolas' vanity. When he realized just where his thoughts had taken him and he smiled. It was good to be thinking about his friend recovered enough to complain about his hair being cut. He could hope it would be as simple as that, though a look shared with Arwen revealed they both knew the chances were slim.
Once the gash had been stitched closed, they cleaned as much blood as they could from Legolas's silky, light gold hair, and then carefully wrapped bandages firmly around the elf's head, to hold the broken bones in place.
Once that was completed, Arwen went to work removing the elf's filthy clothing and washing the dirt from the battered body, taking care to thoroughly cleanse the numerous abrasions and scratches. While she worked, Aragorn stitched another gash in Legolas's leg before probing the terribly bruised and swollen hip to determine if it was indeed broken. Arwen glanced up at him with a question in her eyes.
For the first time in over an hour, one of them broke the silence of the room. "I do not believe it is fractured," he said softly. "Cracked perhaps, but that will heal on its own with rest. I do not believe he will be going anywhere anytime soon."
Arwen nodded, her eyes traveling over their friend sorrowfully. "No, I do not expect him to awaken for some time."
"He still has a broken arm and two broken ribs that need tending." Aragorn finally managed to give a small smile to his wife. "Leave it to Legolas to end up in such a condition."
Arwen smiled, the light of it finally reaching her eyes. "Ever the healer, my husband. Let us set them then. And afterward you must eat something and rest. You look dead on your feet." She was worried about him, he could tell, and she was right, he was exhausted in more ways than one. But there was still much to do before he could relax.
Together, they set the prince's arm and wrapped the cracked ribs. Lastly they dressed him in a long loose shirt and covered him lightly. Having done all they could do, they stepped back and observed their unconscious friend. Only time and Legolas's own healing abilities could do any more now. Aragorn said another silent prayer of many, asking Ilúvatar to work on the elf's behalf while beside him he heard Arwen's whispered plea to Elbereth.
It had taken most of the day without stopping for food or rest to tend to the Prince of Eryn Lasgalen. Aragorn finally took his wife in his arms and held her as the tension started to drain away. For now, Legolas was alive, and for this Aragorn was truly thankful.
"I need to check on Gimli," he told her as she moved away as a couple servants entered to remove the mess they had made while tending to the hurt elf. For the moment, the dwarf was in another room having his injuries tended, but they would move Gimli into this room, as the dwarf had requested, as soon as it was possible to do so. "I trust the other healers, but I will not rest well until I have seen with my own eyes that his leg is set properly. We have heard nothing, and I fear his leg was crushed under that boulder." His eyes pleaded with Arwen to understand.
"Of course," she said softly, her eyes straying back to Legolas. "I will stay with Legolas until you are finished. He should not be left alone."
Aragorn agreed. He would make certain both elf and dwarf were observed closely whenever he could not be here to do so himself. Stifling a yawn, he headed for the door, leaving only the soft sound of elven breathing. Behind the silent, still figure on the bed, the sun shone brightly through the window, its beams gently caressing the motionless elf's face.
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.