The sun shone warmly on the damp earth which was steaming with humidity. It was the first clear day after countless days of rain. The sunlight glistened on the white peaks of the Hithaeglir and made the water droplets in the trees shine like tiny diamonds.
The elves that had left the high pass behind and slowly made their way down to the foothills of the Hithaeglir enjoyed this show of nature. They enjoyed even more being dry for the first time in many days. The rain had steadily drenched them for several days.
Tinwion rode forwards, drawing his horse next to Legolas'. "Thank the Valar that it stopped raining. I felt like a prune, all shriveled and wrinkled."
Legolas laughed. "Indeed. It seemed like the downpour would never end." He patted his horse affectionately. "I really had doubts if I would survive Baranon's bad mood." His stallion snorted and he laughed once more, addressing his steed. "You really were insufferable, my friend."
"You should have taken Th˙lon," Tinwion said, ignoring Baranon's offended snort.
"My father asked me to breed him to some mares, so he had better things to do," Legolas explained. "Unfortunately he also is slowly getting past his prime." He knew that at some point in the future he would have to say goodbye to his longtime friend.
Tinwion noted his pensive mood, so he only clasped his shoulder in sympathy.
They continued on their way, basking in the warming rays of the sun. Legolas sighed in contentment. It would only be two more days until they reached Imladris. His last visit there had been years ago. After the battle of the five armies it had taken a long time to recover from their losses, reorganize their forces, integrate new members in the patrols and once more strengthen their defenses. Now, two years later, Thranduil finally felt confident that they had put the worst behind them and sent Legolas to Imladris for some much needed rest.
They had already left the high pass behind them and the path slowly wound down from the mountain. The elves were looking forward to the calm serenity of Imladris. Legolas let his thoughts drift, remembering the last months at home. It had been nearly constant work and his father had been right in his assessment. He was weary and needed some rest.
Suddenly a low rumble caught his attention. He looked up at the mountainside and saw a fast moving dust-cloud. It took a moment for him to comprehend what it was he was seeing. Obviously the constant rain had loosened the rock and now a part of the mountainside had come loose, heading straight in their direction.
"Ride," he shouted, slapping Tinwion's horse on the rump. He turned Baranon around, checking the positions of the other warriors. "This way," he pointed ahead, urging his escort to make their way to safety. They thundered past him and his horse, desperately trying to escape.
He urged Baranon forward, but a quick check showed him that they would never make it if they continued in the direction the others had gone. The rockslide was too near already so he turned his horse right, down the mountainside, diagonally to the rockslide. It was a slim chance but it was a chance. Baranon gave his best to keep his footing, thundering down the steep mountainside. They made it to the edge of the rockslide before it hit them. Small stones pelted down on them, larger stones hit Baranon's legs. The stallion whinnied panicked and finally he lost his footing, falling on his side. Legolas was thrown clear as his stallion fell, otherwise he would have been crushed beneath his steed. He hit the ground with brutal force, feeling a terrible pain in his left arm. Stones and pebbles rained down on him, a few rocks rolled past him, then all went silent.
Legolas slowly pushed himself up, barely noticing the debris that rolled off of him. His left arm was hurting fiercely, he ached all over but these were minor hurts in comparison to his arm. He examined it and discovered to his dismay that it was broken. The bones had shifted so that it would need to be set. He struggled to his feet, wavering for a moment until he managed to gain his footing. He lifted a hand to his hurting head. There was a bleeding gash at his temple. Obviously he had hit a stone in his fall. It seemed like a wonder that he hadn't sustained more serious injuries and that his bow and quiver had survived the fall undamaged.
After he got his bearings he slowly turned in a circle, searching for his horse. "Baranon," he called hoarsely.
A whinny answered him and his stallion came limping around a big boulder. His right leg was covered in blood and he moved very carefully.
"You are hurt," Legolas exclaimed. He hurried over to his horse and bent down to examine the leg. "Let me see," he muttered.
Baranon lifted his leg and Legolas examined the bleeding wound. Luckily the leg wasn't broken but had only been deeply cut by some stone. Baranon wouldn't be able to carry him but he would recover with time. Legolas marveled that the stallion had survived the brutal fall with only a slight injury.
He tended to the wound as best as he could then he patted his stallion reassuringly. Finally he straightened and started to take in his surroundings, trying to decide on the best course of action.
They were cut off from his warriors and he suspected that they would concentrate their search at the site of the rockslide. If they all had made it out. He was fairly certain the elves in the lead made it to safety but he wasn't so sure about the rest. So it could very well be that they had their hands full with rescuing and tending to the warriors who were hurt or caught in the rockslide.
There was no other choice, he was on his own for now and would have to try to make his way either to his warriors or to Imladris.
"Come, my friend," he addressed Baranon, "let's try to get from this mountain." He started to move in the direction they had been going before.
His stallion snorted softly and followed him slowly, his limp heavily pronounced. Their progress was slow. Legolas had to consider Baranon's injury and he still felt dizzy, his whole body aching. There was no way that they could move fast.
Their luck ran out after maybe half an hour of walking. Legolas suddenly heard noises in the distance. Gazing in that direction, he couldn't suppress a sound of dismay. Still a fair distance away, but unmistakably approaching, he discovered a group of orcs. Obviously the rockslide had chased them out of their caves and driven them into the open.
Legolas watched the orcs with dread. They shouted something in their crude language and started to run in their direction. He turned to Baranon. "Go," he shouted.
Baranon made no move to depart. He snorted and stamped a hoof impatiently in a silent request for Legolas to mount.
"Please," Legolas begged desperately. "You are injured, you can't bear me. You would only die needlessly. Find the others. If you can't find them, go to Imladris, try to get help."
The stallion stood indecisively for a moment, then he whinnied softly at his master, turned and trotted away in the direction they had come from. Legolas only hoped he would find a way to escape the orcs. Baranon slowly picked up speed until he fell into a light canter.
Legolas watched him leave. "Be well, my friend," he murmured. To his dismay two orcs broke from the main group and pursued his stallion. He hoped that they wouldn't catch him, despite his injury.
For a moment his hand went to the leaf shaped pendant he was carrying as he considered his options. Dol Guldur was far away, so there was no danger in ending up there and hopefully at least some of his warriors had survived the rockslide. The outlook was grim, but not hopeless. He tucked the necklace securely back beneath his shirt before he turned and faced his opponents.
Normally, a band of 16 orcs would have been manageable but with his broken hand his bow was useless and he could only use one of his knives - and that only in close combat. His chances of surviving this encounter were slim. Grimly, he discarded his bow and drew one of his knives.
It didn't take long for the orc horde to reach him. The battle was fierce and at first he managed to hold his own, but soon his injury put him at a serious disadvantage. One orc managed to get past his defenses and dealt him a deep stab wound to his left side. He hissed through clenched teeth and managed to evade another blade as one of his opponents lunged at him. But that was how far luck would help him. Another orc attacked and hit him in his thigh. It was another deep wound and Legolas felt himself falter.
Then suddenly there was a blinding pain in his head as he was hit with the blunt edge of a scimitar from an orc that had managed to get behind him. His vision went black and he toppled unconscious to the floor.
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