Disclaimer: I wish I owned Middle Earth but that belongs to the Great Professor and Peter Jackson.

Keeping Score

The Battle for Helms Deep..... revisited

Starlight blocked by ominous cloud '27'; ground carpeted by corpses '28'; the river ran red with blood '29'; the air reeked of death '30'; tense anticipation replaced by desperate confrontation '31'; the agonising silence preceding the battle was forgotten amid the screams of the wounded '32'; screams abruptly ended by metal slicing flesh, and everywhere the clash of blades '33'.

They had not seen sunlight in what seemed an eternity '34'. They were kept warm only through constant movement, their clothes drenched with rain and sweat '35'. Exhaustion battled will; will battled death in an epic war between darkness and light '36'.

Of course none of this passed through the minds of any of those on the battlefield that fateful night '37'. In the minds of those on the side of darkness there was only cruelty, malice, and a thirst for blood '38'. For those on the side of light, there was desperation, and a will to live'39'. For most that is; not all '40!'.

For Dwarven lord Gimli son of Gloin, there was one dominating thought in his mind during the thick of battle; besting that haughty, vain, and detestably arrogant Elven prince.

'I can kill more than he can any day!' Gimli smiled to himself. He'd teach that pompous, pointy-eared princeling to have some respect for the Dwarves.

At least, that was how it had begun, a competition between rivals. They had despised each other; which was not helped by the mutual distrust, aggression and even hatred between their races. That was then. Somewhere along their arduous journey with the fellowship, everything had changed. Gimli could not be sure when exactly the transition from foe to friend had occurred, as it seemed to have crept up on them gradually. At the Council of Elrond they were firing barbed insults at each other, now they would chuckle and consider them good natured quips. Astonishing, that's what it was, quite astonishing.

'41!' Gimli smiled grimly to himself at the thought. He was tiring, though he would rather face an army of Uruk-hai unarmed than admit it. Gimli prided himself on the endurance of the Dwarven race, and considered it his duty to educate anyone who did not already know how strong and hardy they were. But the endless rain had turned the ground into a slushy, slippery mess which sucked at warrior's ankles. That combined with the heavy chain mail and constant combat was beginning to take its toll. 'They just keep coming; are we never to destroy them all?' Gimli shook himself between opponents in an attempt to rouse himself from his momentarily morbid thoughts, 'Of course we are going to destroy them! Now where is that pointy-eared princeling? I must find out what his score is...'

"Gimli!" Aragorn's desperate shout was almost buried beneath the clamour of the battlefield; Gimli barely heard him. It was only when he turned to glance in Aragorn's direction that he realized the purpose of the warning.

Aragorn was engaged in a duel with a chieftain of the Uruk-hai but managed an emphatic gesture in the direction of the gaping hole in the Keep's outer wall. At the base of the stairs near the collapsed section, Gimli glimpsed Legolas's lithe form engaged in mortal combat. Though Legolas was an expert archer and highly skilled with all other forms of weaponry, Gimli could see he was grossly outnumbered and not faring too well.

* * * * *

'33, 34…….35…….3-ARGH!!!!' for a moment all Legolas could see were stars, a blow from the hilt of an Uruk-hai blade to the back of the head momentarily blinding him to his surroundings. Too late he blocked a blade aimed at side, searing pain lanced his side as an Uruk-hai blade bit into flesh. A flicker of agony contorted his ageless face as he continued to parry the blows of the enemy. Ages of training and millennia of fighting had taught him well. He had learned to forget the pain, or rather to ignore it so that it was no longer in his thoughts, therefore allowing him to concentrate wholly on the matter at hand; getting himself and his companions out of battle alive. Be that as it may, it was becoming an ever more difficult task.

His head throbbed, his concentration was weakening, his movements where becoming progressively sluggish; having to defend on all fronts, combined with the inner war being waged keep the pain at bay was wearing him down. More and more often he felt the bite of an orc blade where he was a fraction too slow to block the attack completely, 'Sweet Elbereth, I cannot endure this much longer...' Another slash from a fiend's sword left a ribbon of red from his shoulder to hip. Through the white hot fire that now consumed his back Legolas could feel his tightly clenched control and ability to continue fighting start to slip…

* * * * *

With one final slice of his sword Aragorn dispatched the foul creature he had been battling. In the moment between the end of one fight and the start of another, he glanced around him to locate his friends.

Through the rain, Gimli was hacking his way though a wall of Uruk-hai to a badly injured Legolas. There was a slight problem though. Because of Gimli's height, or lack thereof, he could not see Legolas through the wall of bodies and armour that separated them. This meant that he only had the wall to guide him, and he was veering slightly off course. Aragorn's gaze then flicked to a blood streaked elf fighting, by that point, just to stay alive.

Aragorn knew that for Legolas time was running out. 'Hold on, my friend!'

Meanwhile Gimli was becoming more and more frustrated seeing as he was not yet at Legolas's side. It was taking far longer than he had anticipated and he was severely worried as to how his friend was faring.

"BLAST these URUK-HAI and their HIEGHT! I CAN not SEE the laddie!" Every few words Gimli spoke were punctuated by a blow from his axe. Gimli's frustration was mounting with every passing moment until his ears caught Aragorn's voice once again over the clamour.

Glancing in the direction that Gimli guessed the voice had come, he caught a glimpse of Aragorn atop a mound of rubble gesturing emphatically to Gimli's left.

"Why did Saruman make these foul creatures so tall? At least the orcs of Mordor are easier to see over!" Gimli muttered through his teeth as he altered course through the sea of fiends.

Aragorn leapt from his perch onto the back of an unsuspecting foe. The creature roared as his sword dealt a killing blow through its belly. He leapt to his feet and began lacerating his own path to Legolas through the enemy.

* * * * *

Gimli cut down the final orc that barred his way to Legolas. His frustration turned to fury as he saw his friend fall to his knees after another blade managed to slam the side of his head, knocking him off balance.

"Baruk Khazâd! Khazâd ai-mênu!" with a shout of rage Gimli's axe began moving swifter than at any previous point during the battle. Simultaneously Aragorn had managed to cut his way through and was taking his stance on the opposite side of Legolas. Any Orc or Uruk-hai that came near was hewn down almost instantly. Such was the fury of the motley duo.

Icy fear crept into Aragorn's heart as, out of the corner of his eye, he saw Legolas try to get up but fail, and slump even further to the ground. "GIMLI! WE MUST GET HIM OUT OF HERE!"

At that moment the cluster of Uruk-hai was broken; Aragorn could not describe his relief when saw many of Haldir's company forcing their way through. Wasting no time he slung the limp form of Legolas over his shoulder and yelled at the top of his lungs "Nan Barad! Nan Barad! To the Keep! Gimli! To the Keep!"

"NO! These devils need punishing!" Gimli spat through clenched teeth. Axe at the ready, he stood his ground waiting for a chance to strike when suddenly -

"What are you doing? Stop it!" two Elves had seized Gimli's arms just below the shoulders and proceeded to drag him back to the keep. "Somebody needs to teach those vile creatures a lesson! Insolent pointy-ears LET GO OF ME!"

Meanwhile Aragorn called to Haldir, "Haldir! Nan Barad!"

Haldir turned in his direction and nodded instantly repeating the order to the remains of his company when suddenly an unforeseen Uruk attacked him from behind. Aragorn felt his heart constrict as he watch Haldir fall, knowing there was naught that could be done. The blow had been fatal.

Aragorn's thoughts returned to the limp Elf over his shoulder, 'I have to get him back to the keep; he'll be safe in the Hornburg…I hope. It's our only defense now.' With renewed ardor he raced in the direction of the Keep. As he ran events preceding the battle haunted his thoughts.

"We have trusted you this far you have not led us astray. Forgive me, I was wrong to despair." Legolas had said.

'Valar, what have I done?'

* * * * *

'Why are my eyes so heavy and why am I so tired? This cannot be a good sign.' Legolas shifted slightly and groaned as a splitting headache engulfed his senses. He also became vaguely aware of a familiar voice nearby… and wished it would stop talking.

"Legolas? Can ya hear me lad?"

A small grimace tugged at Legolas's mouth as he struggled to open his seeming lead-lidded eyes.

"Of course I can hear you, fool! I'm not deaf!" Legolas mumbled followed by a groan as his eyes finally fluttered open and gradually focused on the bearded face of a dwarf. 'Gimli… why is he here? Come to think of it what am I doing here? Where ever here is. Where I am.' With confusion in his eyes, he swiveled his head and managed to raise himself up on one elbow in an attempt to ascertain his surroundings. It was only then that he realized that he was lying on a cold, hard stone floor, close to a wall. 'Stone… rain… Rohan… Helm's Deep…. Saruman's forces… war…' He tried to rise when the last thought penetrated.

"Easy lad, your head took quite a blow, several in fact, and the rest of you took a beating as well, you need to rest. I know you elves profess to heal from wounds very swiftly if given the correct treatment, but you have not had enough time to heal completely and you will only do yourself more damage if you do not rest a while longer!"

Legolas groggily narrowed his eyes at the dwarf as a smirk crept to his lips, "Did Aragorn have anything to do with that speech?"

Gimli chuckled at the question, "I should have known you would ask. He said to make sure you didn't get up for at least 12 hours. It's only been three. He left this for you to drink when you awoke."

Legolas drank the draught gradually after Gimli helped him sit up and lean against the stone wall.

When the cup was empty Legolas turned to Gimli ,"What is happening?"

"The Uruks have taken the outer keep. We still hold the inner chamber - " Aragorn's potion seemed to have worked, Legolas's eyes had glazed in sleep.

"Probably for the best, lad." With that Gimli rose and made his way to the last defense. All that were left of King Théoden's uninjured men barred the door which separated them from the foul beasts of Isengard. As he entered the chamber Gimli was just in time to witness a conversation between Aragorn and the King.

"Ride out with me." Aragorn met the King's gaze, "Ride out and meet them."

Théoden seemed undecided, "For death and glory."

Aragorn amended the King's statement with conviction, "For Rohan. For your people."

Then Gimli noticed, "The sun is rising." Gimli remembered the words of Gandalf, "Look to my coming at first light on the fifth day. At dawn… look to the east." He could see that Aragorn too remembered Gandalf's words for he looked to the far window where rays of sunlight began to penetrate the torch lit hall.

"Yes" Théoden King voiced his decision, "Yes." He said more strongly, "The Horn of Helm Hammerhand... shall sound in the deep…" by now his voice carried great conviction and strength, "One last time!"

"Yes!" Gimli growled in approval.

Then the King turned back to Aragorn, "Let this be the hour, when we draw swords together."

It was only after this that Gimli realized he would have to ride on the back of, in his words, "one of those confoundedly tall, unstable and downright dangerous beasts".

Gimli inwardly groaned. 'Not another riding expedition! We dwarves were not meant to ride horses. We are much better fighters with our feet planted firmly on the ground.' But then his pride got the better of him, 'If word were to get out that I stayed behind while men with worse injuries than me rode to battle...I'd never hear the end of it.'

* * * * *

In Edoras – celebrating the victory at Helm's Deep.

"So it's a drinking game." Legolas surmised – to a great chorus of 'aye's in affirmation.

"Last one standing wins" Gimli chuckled with glee, there were few things he enjoyed so much as a competition involving ale or beer, especially when the object of such a game was to drink as much as possible.

Many pints later, Gimli could be heard toasting between beverages, "Ere's to Dwarves 'oo go swimmin', with lit'le hairy women."

Legolas on the other hand, was getting slightly concerned "I feel something... a slight tingle in my fingers…. I think its affecting me." Eomer looked at him in incredulity.

"Whaa did I sshay? He cant 'old his liquer." That was to be the last insult Gimli would utter that evening. The words were barely out of his mouth when his eyes crossed and he fell backward in a drunken stupor.

With an almost imperceptible shrug Legolas commented, "Game over."

The next morning,

Legolas stood on the rock platform beyond the door of Meduseld, watching the suns first rays light the plains of Rohan. The battle was over, the night of feasting had ended in the early hours of the morning, but Legolas had not slept. Earlier in the evening after all had finally adjourned to their allotted sleeping quarters he had ventured outside, to think, consider and to question.

There is more to come, another greater battle first must be fought before any in middle earth will be safe, but today let them sleep a while longer. Another battle festers on the horizon.

Not long after the celebrations had ended, Pippin had very nearly brought to life the ancient saying "curiosity killed the cat". His desire to gaze at the palantir one last time had nearly cost him his life. Thankfully Gandalf had been able to attend to him quick enough to save him. Legolas shuddered as he thought of what would have become of Pippin if Gandalf had not been present. He was disturbed from his musings by the sounds of heavy boots making their way in his direction.

"Och," Gimli groaned while shading his eyes from the penetrating sunlight. "So elf, you think you can awaken a dwarf so despicably and expect to escape all retribution?"

FLASHBACK - Earlier that morning after Pipin's "run in" with the palantir.

Gimli became gradually aware a dull throbbing behind his eyes which seemed to be getting worse with each passing second. At the same time he heard a rather annoying buzzing in the background. Slowly this buzzing seemed to be forming words, it was a voice of some sort. Why was there talking! Gimli tried to shift his position so his back was to the irritating voice, but suddenly found himself shocked into opening his eyes, as his face was feeling very cold, and his beard very wet!

"Come along my friend, Théoden King and Mithrandir have called a meeting. Whilst you have been sleeping off your ale, much has transpired which now needs urgent discussion! Come!" Legolas sat grinning widely down at his friend, an empty pail in his hand.


"I had little choice, my friend. It was a meeting of what members of the fellowship are here and Théoden King's closest council. Dwarves are very heavy sleepers; I did attempt to wake you up using more… conventional methods, but they simply did not work. I had no option."

"After a night of feasting we dwarves usually sleep till the late afternoon of the following day. You cannot tell me that elves do not need sleep the day after a feast that has gone long into the night!" Gimli shifted to section of the platform that was still enveloped in shadow.

Legolas grinned at his hungover friend, "Very little, we elves do not require near so much sleep as humans, hobbits or dwarves. And indeed the hobbits are already on to their second breakfast."

"Hmph", was all Gimli could say.

Legolas merely chuckled. "By the way, what was your final count at Helm's Deep?"

Gimli quite unexpectedly turned a rather interesting shade of red. "Well… erm… you see lad, after you were not able to continue to compete, it did not seem right for me to continue to keep score." By this time Gimli's eyes were fixed on the intricate stonework of the outer wall of Meduseld.

"Oh, so you mean you do not remember what the tally was at the time of my withdrawal from battle then?" Legolas's eyes were sparkling with merriment, and his lips twitched upwards in a grin.

Gimli instantly fixed the elf with a glare that would have turned a troll to stone, while attempting to conjugate a retort.

Legolas' expression morphed into a serious one as he reflected, "You dwarves are a strange race. You can drink any other race, except the elves, under the table, sleep for days, and know very little when it comes to table etiquette, yet you create some of the most beautiful carvings and works of art in all of middle earth. Sometimes you become consumed by your greed and destroy what took you lifetimes to create, yet you are exceedingly loyal, you never leave a brother behind in battle. Do not think I do not know why I am standing here today, my friend. It was not Aragorn alone who saved me." Legolas fixed his gaze on Gimli even as the Dwarf blushed crimson at the sentiment.

Gimli, always uncomfortable with such conversations, tried to shrug it off with a jest, "Now you go and insult us dwarves, no manners indeed, we have some of the finest hospitality in all middle earth," with a glance at Legolas.

Legolas grinned, suddenly mischievous, "So you say. However, when the war is won, first you must accompany me to the great forests of Mirkwood, and I shall show you what true hospitality is. After all I won the wager."

Gimli looked slightly flustered for a moment before replying, "How could you win? You almost got yourself killed and what was your score at any rate?!?"

"Since you lost count I win, naturally." Legolas grinned wickedly.

"Who taught you the rules of wagering, that is not how it goes laddie!" Gimli's affronted tone was betrayed by the slight twinkle in his eyes.

"You did my friend. And you really must learn to keep score, if you ever hope to best me." Legolas's mirth was almost irripressable.

"Why you pompous, insolent pointy-ear how DARE you insult the abilities of the Dwarves! Ill have you know we are the best book keepers in Middle Earth!..

Author's Note

"Baruk Khazâd!" - Axes of the Dwarves

"Khazâd ai-mênu!" - The Dwarves are upon you!

Thankyou so much for taking the time to read my little story, and if you have time I would greatly appreciate a review!

Have a wonderful day!