-Note- I know, I know. My updating is horrible. Thanks for sticking with me!
-Chapter-specific Warning- Orc killing here, for a reason- the orc hunt ends, led by Elladan and Elrohir. If angry, ruthless twins and dead orcs bother you, feel free to not read this chapter. Writing this wasn't pretty, but neither is war.
-Disclaimer- Please see chapter 1.
It was dark. The crescent moon shone through the trees as they lay in wait on the forest floor, hands grasping the hilts of their swords. A few were in the trees, searching for targets.
Their prey arrived a little after midnight. They had hid for the ambush for nigh on two hours when the orcs came tramping through the ravine below them, snapping underbrush and calling out to each other with hoarse voices, breaking the silence.
Halbarad, watching them pass, held his breath so it would not disturb the ground cover his lay in. Beside him, Aragorn tilted his head. Their eyes met.
Aragorn opened his mouth as if to speak, but froze as the signal came, a shrill whistle that sent the orcs still.
Arrows rained down upon the orcs from the trees. Halbarad glanced quickly upward. Elladan and Elrohir were above him, positioned at their foster-brother's back. He watched the orcs fall.
It was only moments before the stunned creatures reacted. A big one- the leader, maybe- gave a great shout, tore a dart from his calf, and rushed forward.
They were ringed in. No matter who the orc chose to go for, he would be exposing his back. The others scattered about the ravine, climbing up the gently sloping walls. One by one, they fell back. There was no more thana score of them, against ten Rangers and the two sons of Elrond.
But the lords Elladan and Elrohir would not lose a fight to the orcs. They were driven by terrible vengeance, by a fiery hate. They would not leave until each and every orc was dead.
Which of their voices it was who gave the order, Halbarad could not tell. He threw himself forward, hearing Aragorn following behind him, to his right. The sturdy form of Marach emerged from the opposite side and began to slide down, dodging black shapes- bodies.
Halbarad did the same, dropping the ten or so feet to the rocky ground. There was a small stream running there. His boots soaked instantly. A black shape ran toward him, sword thrust out.
He parried the orc's blow and blocked it's next lunge. Aragorn was a small distance away, his sword shining in the moonlight.
Halbaradheard an arrow sing past his ear and jerked himself aside. It was too thin to be an orc arrow- it was of Ranger make. It embedded itself in the orc's thig, andthe orcrecoiled briefly, grunting. He scarcely knew what he was doing before he drove his sword through the creature's chest. It took effort.
The orc dropped away. He turned, and for a brief moment, he was alone. Elladan and Elrohir had come down from the trees. The bodies of orcs formed a wall around them.
He jerked forward, stumbling as something pierced the back of his upper arm. He stifled a cry of surprise and spun, slashing at the orc behind him.
His sword grounded on steel. He was using his left hand now; the orc had opened up his sword arm. They parried and lunged, the orc's tactics considerably less formal. Halbarad got past him once, enough to dig his sword into the creature's armpit. It retaliated furiously, snarling and dealing him a broad blow across his face. It was flat metal, but it took off a layer of skin from his nose and dug into the right side of his face. He gasped and slashed blindly with his sword.
He could not see! His right eye was entirely useless, the pain was so great thatHalbarad could not tell if the eye had been taken out. Vulnerable, he backed away, tripping over the body of the orc he had killed not long before. He sliced his palm open on it's sword, and out of one eye, saw the orc come after him.
He struggled to bring himself upright, cursing his ungainliness, and he waved his sword in front of him. The two weapons scraped against each other, but the orc's sword finally swept past his own, grazing his side. He took a stab at it's torso, and struck hard. It backed away, and so did he, tripping back once more.
The next blow, he knew, would be the last.
It approached quickly. He raised his head, too exhausted to do more.
Something happened, then. He heard a dull crunch, the orc gave a yell, and fell to its knees. A sword appeared through his stomach, then was withdrawn.
Aragorn stepped from behind it and rushed forward. Halbarad pulled himself up, leaning against the younger man.
They looked about them. The floor of the ravine was littered with the bodies of orcs. The twins were nowhere to be seen.
"Oy!" Marach cried. He had gotten back to the top of the ravine. "It's done for now. Come back up and we'll see to your face, Halbarad!"
They did not reply, but began the short ascent.
Dawn came, and with it, the stench of dead bodies. They had lost no Men, and no one had been seriously wounded. They had been fortunate.
Marach had made Halbarad drink a good portion of their dwindling supply of ale before he began stitching. The orc's sword had missed his eye by a hair's breadth, and the stitches would have to be tiny and careful. Aragorn breathed a sigh of relief when Halbarad lost consciousness halfway through the sewing together of his side.
He picked his way back down into the ravine. He met a Ranger on his way up. The Man had shaken his head. "Let them be, lad," he had said hoarsely. "They wouldn't want you to see."
Curiosity piqued, he emerged from the trees to find his brothers, alone. He immediately wished he had taken the Man's warning.
His brothers froze where they were. Elladan was stooping over an orc carcass, his dagger under it's eye. The other socket was empty.
Elohir was watching his brother, sitting on the back of a sprawled orc. His eyes were hollow.
They turned immediately to him. Their twin faces bore identical looks of haunted desolation.
"They…" began Elladan softly.
"Is this…your justice?" Aragorn asked, his voice low. "These did not take your mother. You killed them all, do you remember?"
Elrohir buried his face in his hands.
"You cannot understand…"
"I think I do," said Aragorn. "My father, his father…my friends and kin who have died fighting with me." He paused. "Justice? No, this is vengeance. It does not become you, sons of Elrond."
He turned away, leaving them to their grief.
Thanks for reading! Review Responses:
Kathira: Thanks! I'm a Ranger fan myself, and there is a sad lack of stories about them!
Grumpy: I'm glad you understand. I'm sorry this took so long to update!
Aguila: Halbarad has always been among my favorites. I'm very relieved that no one has taken offense at my twins- with all that happened to Celebrían, it would have had a strong impact on them.
Apd69: Thank you!
Leap: Oh, I agree. There are definite similarities between the sets of twins. I think we tend to miss the most important differences in their characters when we make Fred-George and Elladan-Elrohir the same- their families, their upbringing, their different worlds and races, and especially the capture of Celebrían.