Black and Gold

by NorthStar

Part III

None knew how long they had been fighting Saruman’s manufactured monsters. Shadows had grown long, then faded to the last rays of sun and still they came. Legolas had long ago exhausted his supply of arrows and been reduced to pulling them from fallen bodies to pierce another black hide anew. Gimli had given up aim and gone with sheer fury, which was, in fact, just as effective; as many parts of orcs as whole bodies littered the ground.

Boromir and Aragorn held the high ground, sometimes appearing to work as a single unit, slashing and attacking tirelessly. Each had saved the other’s life so many times, it had become meaningless to count. Aragorn fought with precision, his actions fluid, even as his fatigue grew. Boromir fought with an edge of desperation that Aragorn recognized as penance- he was determined to regain the trust of his comrades that he feared he’d lost forever.

Finally, finally the black flow lessened – then stopped entirely. The last line of orcs paused, and turned their faces back towards the Anduin, like dogs on a scent. There was silence; even the dying stopped their moaning. Then a long, low blast sounded. Then again. The orcs turned and ran, sprinting down the bank, crashing through the underbrush towards the river, leaving everything behind. In moments, the land was empty.

The remaining members of the fellowship looked at each other uneasily, “I don’t like this,” said Boromir, shading his eyes against the light. Aragorn stared after the retreating orc’s dust. He turned. “Legolas…” he started, but the elf was already gone, running on swift and silent feet through the trees.

Gimli grunted and sat down on the ground with a thump. He removed his helmet and rubbed his head tiredly. Aragorn still watched the east, wiping his blade with a scrap of cloth and Boromir crouched, staring down at a particularly large orc. With his knife, he pried away the armored clasps and examined the chestplate closely. As if in a trance, he traced the design with a gloved finger, all the while staring into the dead, glassy eyes. “Boromir!” said Aragorn, sharply. When he didn’t respond, Aragorn crouched down beside him and he too, looked upon their foe.

Before Aragorn could speak again, Boromir said “Do you think giants such as this storm already the walls of Osgiliath? Do you think they have reached Minas Tirith? His voice was dreamy. ”Do they even now stand before the seventh gate, jeering, while the women and children of my home cower in fear?” Aragorn sighed, and stopped Boromir’s hand in mid movement. “I do not know, my brother.”

Boromir looked at Aragorn, and tears filmed his eyes. “How can Gondor stand against monsters such as this? We are men, and men only. We cannot compete with sorcery and machines, against an Istari! Our only weapon against magic is gone, dragged to the bowels of the earth by an ancient demon, never to be seen again!” He rocked back on his heels. “What can we do, Aragorn? We have already failed the Ringbearer and now we may fail an entire race as well…”

Gimli, looking up, bristled. “ Mind how you speak of failure, human! You were not the only ones fighting this long afternoon, and I’ll wager that dwarven axes and elven arrows did as much damage as men’s swords!” Aragorn held up a hand to forestall Boromir’s angry answer. ‘Peace, friend Gimli. It is true that this cause would have been lost if not for you and Legolas. No man ever had braver-hearted companions than these.” Gimli, somewhat appeased, muttered something under his breath that was not lost on Boromir. “What did you say, Master Dwarf?” His tone was tense.

Gimli got to his feet and looked Boromir directly in the face. “I said…it was not US, who failed the ringbearer. It was you, man of Gondor. You set out to take that cursed object from someone half your size…by might! You, along with all of us, heard the Elf Lord say it was not for any to wield. But you did not listen, no! No rules apply to you, eh? And now”, Gimli’s face was red with anger “now, we do not know where the ring IS, or where the one who bears it, is! All thanks to you!” Boromir, furious, lunged for Gimli, and would have dealt him a severe blow, but for Aragorn who swiftly interspersed himself between the two. Both collided off the Dunedain and stumbled backwards, but were held fast, one in each iron fist. “Stop,” said Aragorn. And that was all. His tone was deadly, and both parties thought better of protesting.

He let go, giving each a brief push away from each other. Gimli glowered, his cheeks cooling, but still flushed. Boromir turned away, his anger evaporating as he realized the truth of the dwarf’s words. Despair washed over him.

None of them said anything more, but sat, each waiting and fearing in his own way. Until a shadow fell over them and they looked up expectantly

Legolas stood there, trembling, his usual composure lost. He tried to speak, but could not find words. Aragorn rose hastily and taking the elf by the shoulders, said “Mani naa ta, Legolas?”

“Morierea, Aragorn… they have taken Frodo!”

“He is badly hurt; Sam is with him. They are taking him to Isengard, to Saruman himself. They’re moving fast…if we are to follow, we must go now.”

Boromir’s face was white. Gimli was on his feet once again, his axe at the ready.

Without another word, Aragorn let go of his friend, and swiftly retrieved his own bow and belt, sheathing his knives. He turned to the others.

“We have time to make up…Let’s hunt some orc!”

(With apologies to Peter Jackson)