Living Legends

Co-Authored by: eLLe & Alida-Fruit

Setting: Post ROTK

"Let us make a bargain – if we both return safe out of the perils that await us, we will journey for a while together. You shall visit Fangorn with me, and then I will come with you to see Helm's Deep."

"That would not be the way of return that I should choose," said Gimli. "But I will endure Fangorn, if I have your promise to come back to the caves and share their wonder with me."

"You have my promise," said Legolas.

~ 'The Road To Isengard', The Two Towers

~*~

Summary: Post ROTK. When an accident places Legolas in the hands of some crazed villagers who think him part of a prophecy, it is up to Gimli to get him out of trouble.

~*~

Prologue: Of Travelling Companions & Obstacles

Legolas let Arod prance, simply happy to give the horse free reign and allow him the joy that came with sending hundreds of dandelion seeds flying into the spring breeze. He laughed as the horse twisted, turning first one way and then the another, whinnying his delight with the game he played to which there were no rules. Soon the air was flooded with the ghostly stocks of seeds, leaving both Legolas' and Arod's own hair crowned with them.

A loud humph stopped the frolicking pair, making them halt in mid motion to look up with started, somewhat sheepish expressions upon their faces. The dwarf, from who the sound had originated, stood with his arms folded stiffly over his chest, struggling to keep a disapproving expression upon his face.

With a twitching nose and upper lip, the dwarf spoke. "Do you know that the sun has only just risen?" he stated imperiously.

Legolas blinked, and although the elf might not have noticed it, the dwarf certainly marked the striking similarity as Arod mirrored the action, snorting irritably at the dwarf for having interrupted them. "The fact did not go unnoticed, for there sits the sun," the elf replied loftily, completely unfazed at the stern tone in which Gimli spoke.

"Most people, or pardon me," the dwarf owned, "most normal people still enjoy the act of sleeping at such a time. Myself included, until your racket woke me," he added when he did not receive a reaction he considered acceptable.

The corners of the elf's mouth twitched. "Arod did not desire sleep. He wanted to play," he said innocently.

"Demon beast!" the dwarf cursed. "That thing has the brains of a pigeon!" Arod made a definite snort of protest at this remark, but the dwarf hurled forward, ignoring the objection. "I would not expect it to have the decency to know what hours are appropriate for sleep, but what is your excuse, Master Elf, or do you claim the same impairment as that beast of yours?" The inquiry was made with a single brow raised imperiously.

The smallest of grins flickered across Legolas face before it returned to its normal inscrutable self. He cleared his throat, urging Arod to walk forward so that the duo was now circling the dwarf in a fashion similar to that employed by a vulture when scavenging for meat.

"Master Dwarf," he started, keeping his voice dogmatic, "I think I speak for both myself and Arod when I say we are both tremendously sorry for depriving you of your much needed rest. We both realize that you are weary from the excessive amounts of energy you have been required to expend in your valiant attempts to keep up with us. I imagine that these past few days of strenuous travel have taken a toll upon you."

The dwarf snorted, as his head turned rapidly to and fro trying to track Legolas' own movements. "Black be the day that a dwarf would have problems keeping pace with an elf," he scoffed lightly.

"You truly must be in need of rest, for surely even you can see the day is bright and hardly black, for that was your original complaint, was it not?" Legolas said managing to keep his face dead-panned.

"You twist my words, Master Elf," Gimli said beginning to sound flustered with the combination of Legolas' movements and verbal warfare. He soon gave up his pretense of nonchalance and began twisting his body to try and keep both of his eyes upon the elf.

"Ah, you accuse me unjustly. I merely respond to what it is you say. If your words are not to your liking then I would suggest you choose them more carefully," Legolas said, his mirth now evident and a youthful smile breaking across his face.

"Humph! It is too early to deal with your tongue! Why ever did I agree to travel with you?" Gimli grumbled as he unfolded his arms to place his hands irritably upon his hips.

Legolas, taking pity upon his friends state, and realizing with a certain degree of smugness that if he were to continue Gimli would most likely fall over due to dizziness, slowed Arod until the horse stood still. "You choose to travel with me for my lively personality, my quick wit and repartee, and of course my enviable patience when it comes to people, or in this case dwarves, who suffer from mood swings in the morning," Legolas said, no longer trying to hide his smile or his gales of silvery laughter. "Besides, you gave your word that we would explore the wonders of Fangorn together, and I trust you to keep it."

The dwarf stood stubbornly still for a long moment, his beard and moustache twitching before he too broke out into laughter, his deep voice joining the light one of his companion. "Ah, elf! Come, help me pack up our camp if you and the horse are quite finished," he barked lightly, turning to go back to where their sleeping things were still laid out.

Legolas' fair face broke out into an impish smile, and in a sudden rush he urged Arod forward quickly, the sudden movement startling Gimli. Acting quickly upon the offered opportunity, Legolas knocked the dwarf off of his feet as he passed. He continued to laugh as Gimli's curses followed him all that way back to their camp.

~*~

The unusual duo road at a leisurely pace through the speckled trees, and the animals that marked their passing did so with a quiet, polite sort of interest before returning to their creaturely pursuits. The day was proving to be a fine one, with a slight breeze that was tainted with the smell of wild blossoms and a clear sky smeared with coral clouds.

Legolas let his eyes slip close as he inhaled deeply, basking in the radiance of the sun and letting it soak into his very being.

"If you insist on me riding this demon with you then I at least insist you keep your eyes open while steering it!" Gimli's deep voice exclaimed indignantly, startling Legolas from his contemplation with a small sigh of regret.

Slowly letting his eyes drift open, the elf smiled. "Now Gimli, although you deny it, Arod here knows where to go. I do little in the way of steering him, as you put it. You may feel safe while upon him," Legolas reassured gently. Although it was never discussed, Legolas did know, or sensed more then anything, that Gimli was slightly fearful of being up upon the horse's back, and the elf would never dream of making light of that apprehension. With time, Legolas felt that the dwarf would overcome it, given good experiences. The elf silently had vowed to see it done.

"I will never understand how you can place such confidence upon this pack-mule," Gimli grumbled, and in return for his comment he felt the sudden stinging blow of a horse's tail upon his back, which was only clad in a thin shirt due to the heat, as the animal snapped it upwards. Grumbling some other unseemly comments under his breath the dwarf tightened his hold upon the elf's waist.

It was a sudden cry from beyond a hill crest that silenced the pair and lead them to draw their mount to a halt. The sound had carried a degree of terror in it that did not go unmarked by either elf or dwarf and the two did not even need to discuss their actions before Legolas urged Arod off of the path and towards the source of the sound.

They breached the hill's peak but a heart beat later, Legolas all ready having pulled his bow ready with an arrow notched. The scene that greeted them made both warriors stiffen. Below them, a group of ruffians reigned havoc upon obvious peasant people, the scattered remains of a picnic strewn across the rippling grasses. Children cried out, running in various directions in a chaotic attempt to flee the area, while the adults attempted to fend off their attackers. They were obviously seriously under prepared for what they faced and already several bodies, stained crimson with blood, littered the ground.

Legolas did not hesitate long and soon one of his white fletched arrows flew straight, its target striking true. Arod needed little urging, as the white steed flew forward on thundering hooves into the fray. The elf was only vaguely aware of Gimli slipping from the horse's back as they slowed before he was taking out another of the bandits.

For their part the raiders seemed somewhat shocked by the sudden arrival of the elf and dwarf. Bravely taking on a few picnicking families was one thing, but to actually pit their skill against trained warriors was another. Of the band of about twenty, three or four were quick to abandon their fellows and race to the safety of the forests.

The rest rose to the challenge, quickly trying to overwhelm the new comers by sheer numbers, though Legolas took out many with his bow before they could get near enough. Yet despite his skill, Legolas soon found himself engulfed by a flood of hardened faces, with blackened eyes. Shouldering his bow in a quick graceful movement, the elf unsheathed his daggers, bringing them to bear quickly and sending one man reeling, blood spurting from his face. A dark haired man sporting yellowed crooked teeth grinned up at Legolas sinisterly and before Legolas fully had time to process what the man's purpose was he drove a dagger into Arod's side.

The horse reared violently with Legolas trying to vainly cling on, but the mount was in too much pain, its motions jerky as a result. Legolas fell roughly to the ground, his head slamming back forcefully onto a rock, which was partially buried in the ground. With eyes swirling in pain and with lights dancing across his sight, he barely had time to register the world around him. It was only acting on instinct that saved him as he curled up into a ball, narrowly avoiding Arod's thrashing hooves. The action proved to be too slow however and one of the horses feet came down roughly upon Legolas arm, wrenching a cry of pain from the elf in the process.

Legolas soon lost track of Arod as a hand roughly seized him by his hair, pulling him into a sitting position, making his head spin more wildly and bile rise to burn his throat. As his vision cleared he found his face but an inch away from the very man who had injured Arod. A foul puff of air brushed his cheeks, as yellow teeth grinded together into a sadistic smile.

"I'm gonna mes'up that perdy face of yars," he hissed in a thick, uneducated accent, waving his bloodied knife underneath Legolas nose, to brush it lightly against the elf lips, leaving a smeared crimson essence in its wake.

Legolas felt himself recoil in disgust and, pulling himself from the daze of pain he was in, he kicked out, catching his opponent in the thigh before he shuffled awkwardly backwards on his elbows. The man uttered a few muffled curses as he clutched at his leg in agony.

"Yar gonna regret that, boi," he snapped threatening, once again approaching the downed elf.

Legolas hissed air in through his teeth, his right arm completely refusing to obey his near frantic commands. Rising fluidly, despite his handicap, he clutched one of his ivory handled blades in his good hand, while cradling his injured limb against his stomach.

"Caror!" Another voice flared to life, and the greasy man slowed in his approach to look at the speaker. "This is getting too costly! Come!" Snarling viciously, the man, Caror, glared one final time in Legolas's direction before turning and fleeing with his remaining companions.

The elf blinked in vague surprise as he slumped forwards to the ground once again. As the adrenaline rush slowly subsided, weariness and fatigue seized him, leaving the world spinning chaotically around him in a mesh of colours and voices.

For one brief moment a single face swam into focus; an elderly man with a silvery beard cropped short to a roughly tanned, squarish face looking at him intensely. The two's eyes locked momentarily and Legolas saw the brown eyes widen in shock but that expression soon melted away into euphoria.

"You have finally come," he said in a grizzly voice, but the world was already darkening around the elf, and he had no time to ask the man what he meant, before unconsciousness claimed him...