Written for the Tolkien Tango Prompt #37: Taller

Epilogue: Traversing Underground

Gimli moved easily through the passages of the Lonely Mountain, mindful of his companion, and slowing his pace to accommodate the tall elf following him.

"Ow!" The cry rang out as they stepped under an ornate, and low, support. "Gimli! Can we not have more light? That is the third time I have bashed my head against one of these blasted things!"

Gimli grinned to himself at the elf's language. This particular elf tended to be more reserved in his speech than others Gimli knew. Turning up the flame on the lantern, he turned and handed the light back to the elf, keeping his expression schooled, he hoped, to one of concern.

"My apologies. I forget you elves don't see as well in the dark as we dwarves."

The elf glared at him. "We see just fine in the dark, provided it is not pitch black! How much further?" the elf snapped.

"Just at the end of this corridor." Gimli led them on, feeling a bit sorry for the other. After all, this elf did not traverse underground much, except in the Elvenking's halls, and those were full of light, unlike these tunnels Gimli led him through. Grimacing, Gimli felt a momentary twinge of guilt, but he shoved it off. The blasted elf deserved this after all the times he'd made Gimli climb up into that blasted tree!

"How badly is he hurt?"

"Not too badly. Langlíf didn't think we should move him much, however. He took a pretty nasty blow to the head."

"I can't imagine how," the elf muttered.

Gimli fought to contain both a howl of laughter and a wince. He glanced back to see his companion now walked with a hand braced before him. Finally, Tathar was beginning to learn! He smiled and stopped before a door. Poor Tathar most likely regretted following his lord north for this journey! And to the Lonely Mountain especially.

"His wrist is broken. Lots of bruises. Perhaps a sprained knee. Maybe a fractured ankle."

"By Elbereth above, what did you do to him?" Tathar stopped beside him and glared down at Gimli with such vehemence that for a moment, Gimli's fingers twitched and reached for the axe in his belt.

"What did I do to him? Nay, laddie! The bungling elf did it all to himself!"

Tather blinked at him, the glare becoming a confused frown.

And then from behind the door they both heard a fair voice.

"I heard that, Gimli!"

To which Gimli grinned, his hands coming up to open the door instead of drawing his axe. "I thought you might," he answered while entering, Tathar hot on his heels.

And from one glance at Tathar looking at Legolas (bandaged, scratched and bruised), Gimli knew he wouldn't miss the upcoming conversation between the Lord and the Warden of Asgarnen for anything.

: - :

Asgarnen – Legolas's elven colony in Ithilien

Tathar – Legolas's second in command. Bears the title of Warden.