The One Hour Fellowship Writing Challenge

A Rock and a Hard Place by Firiel


"At that moment the old man quickened his pace and came with surprising speed to the foot of the rock-wall. Then suddenly he looked up, while they stood motionless looking down. There was no sound. They could not see his face; he was hooded, and above the hood he wore a wide-brimmed hat, so that all his features were overshadowed, except for the end of his nose and his grey beard." (From 'The White Rider')



"There is no chance", Gimli growled quietly.

"I cannot agree," Legolas returned, shaking his head. "There is every likelihood of it."

"Never," Gimli stated emphatically. "Laddie, I picked this place after scouting the entire side of the forest, and I am telling you, there isn't a chance of him finding us here."

"Perhaps not a chance, for if you don't quiet down, it's an absolute certainty," Aragorn hissed, rolling his eyes at both of them where they were perched on the rock shelf.

Gimli grunted argumentatively, and Legolas smirked, but they both subsided, and none too soon, for suddenly they caught a glimpse of the old man coming through the forest, vaguely heading in their direction. Legolas smirked, silently mouthing an "I told you so" at Gimli, who pretended not to notice. Aragorn rolled his eyes again.

After a bit of observation, however, it began to appear that the Dwarf was right, and they wouldn't be found. The old man was moving in an erratic fashion, moving first towards them, then away, now back towards them. And he was having a difficult time of it - tripping on stones, bumping on low branches and catching his robes on thorns. Every now and again a muffled exclamation could be heard, and they didn't sound cheerful.

This went on for several minutes. Gimli leaned against the rock wall and looked bored. Legolas looked slightly perturbed, which Aragorn assumed was from the possibility of having to admit that the Dwarf had been right. Aragorn glanced down warily at the figure below, who had just caught his toe on another rock and staggered before regaining his balance. Wincing in automatic sympathy, Aragorn opened his mouth to speak to the others, but at that moment, the old man quickened his pace and came with surprising speed to the foot of the rock-wall. Then suddenly he looked up, while they stood motionless looking down. There was no sound.

They could not see his face; he was hooded, and above the hood he wore a wide-brimmed hat, so that all his features were overshadowed, except for the end of his nose and his grey beard. At last the old man broke the silence.

"Well met indeed, my friends," he said, tilting his head this way and that, as if trying to see them better. "Will you come down, or shall I come up?" Without waiting for an answer he began to climb.

"Now!" cried Gimli, any attempts at silence thrown to the wind, and all three began a mad scramble to the high ground of the shelf, pushing and shoving each other out of the way in a desperate effort to be the one farthest away from the old man. "Stop him, Legolas!" Gimli huffed.

"And where is your Dwarvish valour now?" Legolas taunted, while frantically shoving in front of Aragorn and Gimli and clinging to the highest part of the rock shelf, where all attempts of man and dwarf to dislodge him were in vain.

Aragorn turned from the still struggling Elf and Dwarf to face the oncoming old man, who was waving his hands in front of him in crazy circles and laughing maniacally as he closed on the helpless three. Aragorn grimaced at what he was about to do, then, just as the man's outstretched hands were about to touch him, he stepped smoothly and silently out of the way, so that the grasping fingers clutched at Gimli instead.

With a roar of disbelief, Gimli relinquished his grip on Legolas and turned on Aragorn. "Traitor! I thought you had me covered!" he snapped, and yanked his cloak out of the old man's grasp.

Aragorn spread his hands apologetically. "It appeared to be every man for himself...Dwarf and Elf, too," he added.

Legolas laughed as he jumped lightly to the ground, brushing dirt off his hands and smiling broadly. "That was smooth, Aragorn. Very nice."

Beside them, the old man ripped the hood off of his face, revealing Gandalf, eyes dancing with mirth. "Your turn," he said, handing the hood to Gimli. "And as it was your idea to hide on a ledge, don't get upset when we hide up a tree."

"But we don't use trees in Dwarvish Blind Man's Bluff," Gimli protested.

"Now you do," Legolas winked.
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