A Flash of Red

Chapter 25

The sun, burning like molten gold, dipped beneath the distant hills after the third day of pursuit. Darkness fell quickly, but Aragorn, Runíla, Legolas and Gimli's pace never slowed (well, Gimli's did, but he was never too far behind).

It had been three days since the Four Hunters set out after Merry and Pippin; three days since Boromir fell and Frodo and Sam continued to Mordor alone. They had long left behind the trees, and then steep slopes, and were now traveling across uneven, grassy land interrupted by crags of weathered grey rock. Running without sleep and little food and water, the four had pushed themselves to their limits and beyond. Even the elves, rarely tired and hardly ever hungry, were beginning to feel at least a little bit weary. But by some incredible force, they never ceased in the chase.

Poor Gimli, however, was exhausted after the first hour and simply stayed exhausted for the next few days. Wheezing, he struggled to keep up with the long legs of Runíla, Legolas and Aragorn, his chain mail clinking with each step. They always made sure to glance back every so often just to be certain he had not collapsed a ways back, but he seemed to possess a remarkable endurance that surpassed his stature, surprising the others.

They had barely spoken over the past few days, for all of their breath was focused on leading them towards the unfortunate hobbits, most likely tied up and being carried about like potato sacks. Aragorn and Runíla's eyes skimmed the grass for signs of their quarry. The Uruk-hai were not difficult to track, and it appeared they made no effort to change that. It seemed their brutish and bloodthirsty nature gave them the boldness to believe that no enemy would dare to face them, and if they did, then they would surely be ripped to pieces. Their boots left deep prints in the soft ground over twice the size of Runíla's. Soon, they were aware that they were slowly but steadily gaining on them.

The night passed quickly. They did not stop, not even to dig a loaf of lembas bread from their belongings, instead eating as they sped by rocks and banks. On the morning of the fourth day, the sun gradually climbed into the sky, throwing four speeding shadows against the grass.

Throughout the journey, Runíla, Legolas and Aragorn had traded off leading the group, who followed one by one. By midmorning, it was Runíla who headed them, with Legolas on her heels. As she ran, her mind wandered randomly, though Merry and Pippin always lingered in her thoughts. But she was torn from her reverie when light footsteps grew louder from behind her.


Runíla frowned. Being as proud as she was, she never liked giving up her position, and currently she was quite comfortable leading the others. So she picked up her pace. To her surprise, he sped up too, just a bit. Runíla felt her fiercely competitive nature beginning to surface, and she accelerated. He added another burst of speed until he ran beside her, a small teasing smile on his face. She cocked an eyebrow at him and narrowed her eyes, matching his pace, and Legolas' smile grew. Runíla surprised him by shooting forward unexpectedly, arms pumping as she sprinted. His laughter was swept away by the wind as he too burst forward.

The two of them raced forward like lightning, the wind tearing at their hair and clothes. Their feet seemed to skim the ground, hardly touching it. Runíla felt her heart swell with excitement and exhilaration, all thoughts of the enemy fading from her mind. The wind tore the breath from their throats and whipped around their ears making them oblivious to Aragorn's shouts. All they could see was an electrifying blur of green, grey and brown landscape. Matching each other stride for stride, neither seemed to get ahead of the other, and yet neither seemed to want to. Runíla glanced at Legolas. He looked every bit as thrilled as she; his eyes widened, hair streaming back. Slowly, a smile began to spread on her face, and she turned her gaze forwards again. She chased away the clouds from her mind, Legolas at her side.

But as soon as it began, it ended as Legolas stopped short. She halted, turning back to see what was the matter.

"We ought to wait for Aragorn and Gimli." Legolas said, gesturing to the small figures in the distance trying desperately to catch up.

His eyes were still bright with excitement, his hair just a bit mussed from the wind. Runíla nodded, tucking strands of her own fiery windswept hair into her braid. She did not even notice the smile that stretched across her face. She had needed that small moment of carelessness, freedom, more than she knew.

Aragorn was swift, and they did not have to wait long for him to catch up. He slowed as he reached them, looking weary but determined.

"That was... childish," he said, trying to regain his breath, and Runíla braced herself for a criticism. "but in the future... do not stray so far."

Legolas nodded. At that moment Gimli staggered forth, gulping great, deep breaths. He bent over, hands on his knees, trying to regain his breath in the precious time they stood still.

Aragorn shook his head and he said no more. There was no wrong in trying to find a little entertainment, especially now. And besides, he had never seen Runíla smile like that before.

They took off again, this time with Aragorn in the lead, and once more fell into silence (except for Gimli's occasional grumblings), but it gave Runíla plenty of time to think.

Runíla hated being tied down. She knew that. But having someone willing to run beside you, she decided, was not so bad.

The Four Hunters soon settled back into a steady rhythm, chasing the sun across the terrain. Jagged mountain peaks rose into the sky, the grass that covered the hills like carpet beneath their feet. They were nearing the border of the land of Rohan. Aragorn remained at the front of the group, tracking the movements of the enemy.

Runíla was beginning to feel the previous days taking a toll on her, but she kept pushing forward with a fierce vigor. It was indeed a great feat, even for an elf, to travel the distance they had in such a short amount of time. Their pace quickened even more as the Uruk-hai picked up were no signs of Merry and Pippin traveling with them, and they had no choice but simply to pray for the two hobbits.

But that afternoon, they found a reason to press on even harder.

Aragorn halted so suddenly that Runíla nearly tripped over him. He crouched, his hands prying something from the ground as Legolas stood over curiously. Runíla was not sure if she was supposed to be glad that the hobbits were alive or devastated that they had been killed, for in Aragorn's hand lay a stunning green brooch. It was identical to the one that fastened all of their cloaks.

"Not idly do the leaves of Lórien fall." Aragorn said quietly.

"They may yet be alive." Legolas breathed.

"Or they could be dead." Runíla added darkly, earning her a glare from Aragorn.

"We musn't think of that, not now. Either way, they are less than a day ahead of us." Aragorn said. "Come!"

"Come, Gimli!" called Legolas as they continued on. "We are gaining on them!"

The dwarf promptly tumbled down the grassy slope, landing with a thud and a crash of metal. He picked himself up and hobbled after the others.

"I'm wasted on cross-country." Gimli grumbled from the rear. "We dwarves are natural sprinters! Very dangerous over short distances!"

The mid afternoon sun was high in the sky when they halted once more. Wide plains stretched before them broken up by large stones and small hillocks. This was a land Runíla knew well, for she had traveled through it while criss-crossing across Middle Earth.

"Rohan." Aragorn said, looking out over the plains from the peak of a rock. "Land of the horse-lords. There is something strange at work here. Some evil gives speed to these creatures, sets its will against us."

Runíla and Legolas took advantage of the vast landscape, leaping forward to see what their keen vision could detect of the enemy.

"Runíla, Legolas, what do you elf eyes see?" He called.

Runíla scanned the landscape, then focused in on a mass of tiny black figures moving quickly away from them. Her eyes widened as her gaze swept the horizon before them. They were heading towards a single, unmistakable spire in the distance, one that Runíla never thought Uruks would be able to stray near.

The tower of Orthanc.

"The Uruks turn northeast!" shouted Legolas. His eyes were just as wide as Runíla's. "They're taking the hobbits to Isenguard!"

"Saruman." Aragorn breathed.

Runíla heard that the wizard had become corrupted by Sauron's evil, but she never even dreamed that he would breed such vicious beasts.

"He is responsible for this! If he has created those... those monsters," Runíla spat, "then who knows what else he has stuck his hand into, what else he could be breeding."

They all shared worried looks. But the thought of the hobbits nearing that vile place was too much to keep them standing still for long, and soon they were off again.

A/N: Greetings, and welcome to The Two Towers! Well, this was interesting to write. It definitely did not turn out the way I planned, but I quite like it, actually. It shows a more fun, innocent side of Runíla and Legolas that I think everyone has (regardless of race), but is not always seen, especially in elves. I just wanted to show a more entertaining side of them that PJ didn't really show in the movies, but it is clear in the books, even if it is different from this. I guess I was just sick of writing elves so stiffly.

Review please! I would love to know what all of you think! Plus, it motivates me to update more... *hint hint* *wink wink* *nudge nudge*

Thanks for the support!