A month since I updated? That's crazy talk! For that I humbly apologize. You see, I am, what is called an 'ass'. I was dumb enough to take on three jobs this summer which leaves little time for writing. Good news is I get bored at work a lot, so that means many many plot bunnies. I'm a carnie! Feel free to throw things at me…

Anyway, enough babble. Disclaimer from first two chapters still stands. I got nothin'.

This chunklet dedicated to:

The Balrog of Altena: Muchos gracias para su revisión entusiástica. (forgive my terrible Spanish!) Hope to hear from you this chapter too!

Evenstar606: Once again, thank you much! I'm afraid there may be a drastic measure or two in the future. :)

Empath89: Sorry about the cliffy… I just can't help it! Thanks for the review!

Friendsforever: Of course I'd like you to review again! Reviews help me tweak the story. Also, I agree, Gimli gets a bad rap in a lot of stories. Trust me… in this tale there will be plenty of concern for his elven buddy. Thanks!

Justme: What can I say? I :heart: you.

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Chapter 3

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Legolas stared up defiantly at the elf before him. Ending his scream, he took a deep breath and prepared himself for the blow. He would die with as much dignity as he could muster. He was an elf, and he refused to die screaming in fear and anger.

His mind struggled to remember the proper last rite prayer to the Valar, to ensure his place in the Hall of Mandos. He nearly wept to find he couldn't clear his mind enough to remember even one word of the language he had known for thousands of years. What is happening to me?

The warm morning sunlight glinted off the blade of the axe, while the elf before him struggled to control it. Legolas allowed himself a smug moment, realizing that his body would not have the muscle memory for dealing with such a hefty weapon. He used the imposter's difficulty to his advantage and made another attempt to stand.

He felt awkward. His arms felt far too heavy and stunted to be of any use in getting to his feet. He had managed to get up to his knees by the time the imposter got control of the axe.

It fell towards him, almost in slow motion, and he closed his eyes in acceptance. He heard the almost wet sound of metal on metal, and he wondered idly if he had already left this new body and was hearing his death from a distance. He waited a moment and cautiously opened his eyes.

Aragorn stood to his left, his blade outstretched into the path of the axe. His face was contorted slightly with the effort of holding the imposter's axe at bay.

"Mellon-nin! Have you lost your senses! It matters not how much you dislike each other, this is madness!" he cried, looking at the imposter with a mixture of anger and confusion.

Legolas hung his head in relief, although a little irritated that he couldn't remember what 'mellon-nin' meant. Belatedly he noticed for the first time his state of dress. He squinted his eyes in an attempt to see with his new dimmed eyesight. He now understood why he had trouble getting to his feet. He was covered from head to toe in chainmail and leathers. He held his hands out in shock. Each hand was encased in a heavy leather glove that had no doubt seen many years of wear. In growing alarm, he brought his hands to his face. Instead of the delicate elvish face he was used to he encountered rough, weather beaten skin and a full, thick beard that had been braided into wide plaits. Sliding his hands up further he realized he was wearing a helm, and that's when his world fell apart.

"Have ye lost yer senses, Aragorn! Can ye not see this is the work of the White Wizard!" the imposter cried, gesturing with his head at Legolas, and still trying to force his axe past Aragorn's defense.

Legolas finally raised his eyes wearily to the miniature battle before him. "Gimli?" he asked the imposter slowly. As he spoke he realized if they hadn't been so panicked, they would have realized whose voices they were speaking with. His voice made him wince, it was low and gravelly and barring the accent, it was unmistakably Gimli's.

"Do not try ye're fellcraft on me, ye reckless spirit!" the imposter, or rather Gimli, yelled. He redoubled his efforts in the battle of wills with Aragorn.

"Gimli, stop… It's me," Legolas said, finally getting to his feet, feeling far too short and heavy for his tastes. After a few moments it became clear that Gimli had no intension of stopping the struggle, or listening to him.

"By the Valar, Dwarves really are the most infuriating of all races! Stop for a moment and look at yourself, you stubborn fool!" Legolas snapped at him.

Both Aragorn and Gimli stopped at these words and turned to look at him. A small smile graced Gimli's face and he took a step back. Aragorn, for his part looked relieved that the immediate threat was over, but he didn't lower his blade.

"Durin's Beard! It is you! Not even Saruman himself could counterfeit such distain for Dwarves, or for me," Gimli said in relief, thoroughly amused. He followed Legolas's instruction, and took in his appearance. His mirth faded and his face scrunched up in distaste, but he said no more. He dropped the axe and sat heavily on the ground in shock.

Aragorn looked from one to the other, as if waiting for a repeat of the attempted assassination. He finally looked down to the elf at his feet, "Legolas?"

Gimli merely shook his head and gestured with a delicate hand to Legolas. Aragorn turned to the now standing Dwarf, and tried again, "Legolas?"

"Yes, Aragorn?" he replied off handedly while curiously looking over the walking axe held in his belt.

Aragorn took a deep breath, and when he spoke again it was guarded as if he expected all the happenings to be a simple nightmare he would wake up from momentarily. "What has happened?"

"I'm not sure, but I'm certain it is a result of the voice from the North," he answered, meeting Aragorn's eyes.

Whatever Aragorn saw in those eyes, put his mind to rest, for he nodded slightly and re-sheathed his sword. "Are you both well despite this… condition?" he asked.

Before either of them could reply, Gimli held up a hand to silence them, staring intently on the ground in front of him. "I hear something. A rolling, heavy sound, like thunder."

Legolas looked up at the cloudless sky above them and listened, desperate to have is old hearing back. "I can't hear anything with these half deaf dwarvish ears!"

"Those ears belong to the Son of Gloín, and ye'll mind yer tongue…" the insult trailed off as he was suddenly listening intently again. "It's louder now, and I feel something strange, as if the very air is shaking. I also have a feeling of battle readiness and a need to… uh… well… run… overwhelming me," he said sounding confused.

Legolas, however, understood these feelings perfectly. He turned to Aragorn, "Riders. Gimli is sensing the men and their horses. We should take cover until we are sure of their intent." Aragorn nodded in agreement and jogged over to a nearby rock outcropping. After a moment he looked back and motioned for the other two to join him.

It took Gimli a moment to stand and regain his footing, with as much help as Legolas could give even though he wasn't very stable on his feet either. "Ach! How do ye elves walk on these twigs for legs!" Legolas narrowed his eyes in response.

Together they made it over to the outcropping and huddled in the protection it gave.

TBC…

Sorry for the short chapter… next one will be longer…. I promise. (eeek! Not the 'p' word!)

Next chappie, the appearance of Eomer! Oh, isn't he a hottie? As always, please please please review! Review and you'll get kisses from Eomer! How can you pass that up!