Black and Gold

by NorthStar

Part V

The hunters also ran…the orc herd was moving fast, as if driven by some unseen force, and all were hard put to keep up ; especially Gimli, whose short legs caused him to work twice as hard as the others. Puffing steadily, he kept the pace, his mind always on their quarry.

Merry and Pippin were not far behind them – despite their size, they were quick, and their desperation hastened their steps. They dodged among the brush, trying to intercept their friends before the plains opened up and their advantage was lost.

Boromir knew they headed towards Rohan; his heart ached at being so close to Gondor after all this time. Should he leave the fellowship at the plains and head toward the Gap of Rohan? Or should he honor his vow and defend the quest all the way to the Black Gate?

What would his brother do? Would the ever wise Faramir hold a promise or loyalty to his city more dear? He did not know, and wondered if he would ever see his brother in this world again.

Aragorn’s mind was wracked with guilt and defeat; he had let Frodo slip away on purpose, sure that the hobbit would get away; he had purposely steered the black mass away from the river, hoping against hope that Frodo would seize a boat and make haste away to the east. He had known Sam would follow his master; a more tenacious soul he had never met. He had not worried about them. Blind fool, he told himself angrily. Gandalf appointed YOU to lead, YOU to protect…and now Frodo is in the hands of Saruman; or will be, if you cannot get to him in time…

Legolas could feel both men’s thoughts radiating from them, and wished he had words to comfort them, but there were none. Each saw duty differently, but both were bound to uphold it. He had heard their sharp, angry words on the bank of the Anduin, seen the stricken look on Boromir’s face when he had returned from gathering wood and known that the man from Gondor finally understood the power of the one ring.

The unease he had felt in the boats had finally been given a name-Uruk-Hai. He had heard whispers of them, these creatures that had the strength of many men, and feared little. Staring into their faces as his knives ended their short lives, he had felt an overwhelming anger and sadness, for these wretched beings, created by dark magic; evil reflections of the most beautiful creatures on earth. He cursed Saruman and his thirst for power, a useless human trait… in an Istari.

They moved on, over rock and tree, Legolas leading the pack; ahead of him he saw a large fallen tree split in many pieces and called a sharp warning to the others. Turning back, a quick movement in front of him made him stop short, and only his inborn balance kept him from falling. In one swift motion, his knife was drawn and his hand closed on a rough cloth and yanked. Pippin tumbled out of the log and landed at the elf’s feet. Legolas pulled him to his feet, and recognizing the frightened face, cried out in glad relief that his friend was safe. Hearing elf’s voice, Merry poked his head out and was embraced along with Pippin. The others having caught up, breathed a sigh of relief that two more of their company had escaped unharmed.

“They’ve got Sam and Frodo!” said Merry, disentangling himself. “The Uruks, the big one…he found them and took them away, towards…” “Isengard,” said Aragorn quietly. “I know, Merry. Legolas followed them long enough to see their direction. We follow them as well.”

"The orcs know about the ring!" this from Pippin, who still held fast to Legolas’s arm, deriving comfort from his protector’s presence. Boromir looked up, startled, then at Aragorn ”He would not have been so rash as to have actually told those things…” Aragorn rubbed his hands across his eyes. “It would not be wise, Boromir, granted; but Saruman seems to have abandoned wisdom for lust.”

Gimli had said nothing, though the two hobbits could tell he was as relieved as the others to find them safe. But now he spoke. “If the Uruk know…who is to say that they will actually go so far as to bring them to Isengard? If they find the ring, and know its power- what is to stop them from killing the hobbits and taking it for themselves?”

His question was met with horrified silence.

“No. No…they are too under the sway of Saruman to defy him that way.” But Aragorn’s tone had an undercurrent of uncertainty.

Boromir spoke up. “If we do not hurry, we will not be able to do anything, for the orcs will have reached Isengard and it will take a bigger force than we six to defeat the White Wizard. We cannot waste time with supposition.”

All nodded. Aragorn kneeled before Merry and Pippin.” We must run like a fire dogs our steps. We cannot stop till we find Frodo’s abductors.” They nodded, their hands going to the Noldorian daggers on their belts.

With a nod, Aragorn rose and turned west towards the plains of Rohan once again. On his word, the hunters once again gave chase.