And so Aragorn launched into his tale. How he was captured, found Merry and Pippin, and details of their long trek across Rohan. Gimli beamed proudly as Aragorn described Pippin dropping his brooch. But Aragorn desperately wished he could have evaded the mention of Pippin's punishment. He only briefly mentioned it, but still he noticed Legolas's face growing steadily paler, and his lip curling in anger. The elf's fair hands were clenched, and Aragorn had no doubt that the elf wished he had been there at the time of the ambush, if only to wring Ugluk's neck.

For this reason, Aragorn skipped over telling them of his various mistreatments. Legolas livid with anger would not help them find the Halfling, and so he instead put great detail on how the orcs needed them, and barely harmed them.

At last the grueling tale was over. He concluded with the orcs approaching him by the trees, and blacking out.

Legolas immediately focused on Deowin, prying out of him how the orcs were dealt with, and how many. After all tales were finished, Aragorn felt himself growing drowsy, and it was becoming harder and harder to ignore the pulsing pain going through his entire body.

"Aragorn…Aragorn! Can you hear me?" A voice suddenly startled him out of his blurred state. He blinked and realized he had collapsed sideways, onto Deowin, who looked rather embarrassed beneath his concern.

"Yes…I just…" he raised a hand to his head. Deowin helped him lean gently on one of the less bulky packs.

"You should probably get some rest now." Legolas said gently, digging through the pouch that contained the healing herbs. "Here, you should have some more of this." He found Arwen's herb and pulled it out.

Aragorn's grey eyes instantly recognized the bag.

"You…you gave me that?" he asked quietly. Gimli was alarmed.

"Yes, lad. Should we not have?"

Aragorn sighed. "You should not have wasted it on me. The herb should only be used in utter need."

"Aragorn, what are you talking about! Of course we needed it! You were not breathing and scarcely lived!" cried Legolas, frustrated with his friend's thoughts.

"He's right," Deowin interjected calmly. "Without this, you would have surely died. And if you do not take it again, you will most likely not be well enough to move for several days."

Aragorn hesitated briefly, but soon reached for the powder, and taking as small a pinch as he dared. He placed it in his mouth, and started.

"What? What is it?" Legolas asked instantly. To his surprise, Aragorn swallowed, and began to chuckle weakly.

"I do not believe it, mellon-nin, but it actually tastes…delightful!"

&&&&&&&&&&&

The herb worked quickly. In only a few minutes, Aragorn had sunk in to a deep sleep. Deowin carefully checked his various injuries, and pronounced them to be healing well, with no signs of infection. As he tied off the last bandage, a sliver of pain flared up in his side. He gasped, startled. Deowin had completely forgotten that he had gotten injured. But compared to the extremity of the ones he had just seen, it seemed far more trivial.

"Deowin, what is wrong? Are you hurt?" Gimli questioned, moving away from where he was tending the fire.

"Well, erm, it's just an old wound, just opened up a bit, I'm fine." Deowin stammered, moving away from the dwarf's glinting eyes.

"Oho, don't try that on us! Something happened while we were gone, correct? Tell us!" Legolas came and seated himself next to Gimli. They both lookedquestioningly at Deowin.

"Very well," Deowin began reluctantly. "A little while after you left, I was cleaning some of the weapons I had found in a pack, and…a small group of orcs came upon us."

Legolas and Gimli were indignant.

"What! There was an attack? Why did you not say anything?" Gimli cried. Legolas remained silent. His sharp eyes turned for the first time onto the opposite plains that he now noticed groaned beneath several stinking carcasses of orcs.

"Well, actually that was the reason I called for you. Aragorn was still out, and I did not know what to do. So I curled him up as small as possible, and tucked a blanked on top of him. I knew I could handle such a small number of orcs, but I didn't want to risk him being spotted and hurt, as he was defenseless. But he proved me quite wrong!"

Legolas groaned.

"Say not that he woke and joined the battle! Surely even he knew that he was too weak to fight! Was he injured?"

"No, no, he has no new injuries. He woke when the majority of the orcs were dead. Only the leader, who was both heavily armed and covered, was giving me trouble. I began to falter, and I received only a small wound. Because just as the orc attacked me, your valiant friend thew a dagger from where he lay. Alas, it was a miss, but it got the orc's attention and he began to stalk toward Aragorn, but he managed to throw another dagger and this time, killed it. He actually got up and came over to me to see if I was injured!"

Legolas smiled, fondly looking over to his sleeping friend.

"He has always put the safety of others before himself, if he thinks of himself at all! Estel has been my greatest friend for many, many years, and yet that has never changed."

"He is a remarkable man," Deowin said softly. "Never have I encountered one so selfless and brave."

Gimil watched this exchange fondly, but his insides turned as the thought of the Halflings. They were alone, lost in the middle of a land they knew nothing about, and in what condition? Grateful as he was that they had managed to finally save Aragorn, he knew they had much more to do.

These thoughts flashed briefly through his mind, and left as soon as they came. Gimli sat back by the fire, turning his thoughts back to the present. Right now their task was to help Aragorn recover, and then once he was able to travel, to find the hobbits. With that he added another branch to the fire, and rejoined his companions.

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Well, there's another chapter. I thought Gimli should get a chance to muse a little bit, so tell me what you think! And regarding updates….ugh. I'm again terribly sorry about the inconsistent rate at which I update. And of course, it didn't help that I couldn't log in for a while…But thanks for all of my fabulous reviewers for bearing with me, and especially iheartequeens for waking me up and encouraging me!

QueenofFlarmphgal