Lost by LittleApril - Chapter Ten
The terrain was rough beneath our feet, and the howl of the scouts echoed through the trees and reverberated across the land. We ran, our footsteps hurried and heavy, past the edge of the forest. Radagast lead the beasts North, tumbling over the hills, whipping and urging his rabbits onward. Our band hid behind the grey stone boulders, waiting for Gandalf's orders. My hands clutched my stomach, unused to the exertion. A bead of sweat trickled down my forehead and neck. How long had we been running for? Three minutes? Five minutes? A minute in this world seemed to last a lifetime.
And then we were running again, out from behind the boulder, making our way across the grasslands. As the dwarves hurried forward, following Gandalf's lead, I counted each member in turn. Bilbo, Gloin, Bofur and Bifur. Oin, Bombur, Ori, Nori and Kili. Thorin, Fili-
A hand shot out and pulled me upright as I began to fall, and I looked up to find Dwalin supporting me. He pushed me forward, his calloused hand at the small of my back, causing me to stumble. A second pair of hands grabbed my arms. Kili.
We hurried downhill and stayed close to the masses of rock. Thorin now lead our group, his sword poised and ready to strike.
"Stay together," barked Gandalf, voice quiet yet commanding as our band came to a stop behind the rocks. "Move!"
Abiding his words, we stormed back to the boulders. With my back pressed up against the harsh surface of the stone, I found myself trapped between the bodies of Bilbo and Bofur. The hobbit regarded me with a look of fright. I returned it. My hands felt weighed down and as I looked, I was surprised to find that I had been clutching the jewel-encrusted dagger throughout the entire flight. Had I really not noticed it trapped beneath my fingertips?
But there was no time to dwell on that thought, for Kili had stepped away from the group, his bow and arrow aimed at the scout prowling above our heads.
The Warg's howl pierced the silence. And the beast fell to the ground beside our feet, the dwarves making quick work of the injured Orc - slicing and stabbing, tearing and spearing.
A steady thump echoed in my ears. I was acutely aware of the sound of my own heartbeat. Glancing down, I noticed that my hands were shaking. Would this all play out as it had done in the film? Or had my being there changed the story? Did the Butterfly Effect exist in this dream-world?
There was no time to think as a large hand wrapped itself around my bicep, dragging me forward. The sounds of the dwarves' attack on the Warg had carried across the plains. Radagast no longer proved to be a distraction. We were the hunted. And from where we stood, hidden behind the boulders, I could hear the snarls and the growling of the Wargs and their riders.
How long would we stay hidden? Why weren't we moving?
It was Gandalf that ordered us to leave the rocks. "Move!" he bellowed. "Run!"
Our company ran through the grass, tumbling over the uneven rock and dirt covered ground, but it was no use - the Wargs surrounded us. The large wolf-like creatures bared their teeth and snapped their jaws. I clutched the hilt of my blade and steadied my hands.
"Hold your ground!" Thorin's shout echoed all around us.
And before I could think, before I could truly focus on what was happening, my mind flashed back to an old memory. It took me back to London on a dreary Friday afternoon - the afternoon of my qualifying exam. The rain had been terrible and it had soaked my leather shoes and my hospital scrubs.
I opened my eyes. London was gone, replaced by the lands of Middle Earth.
"This way, you fools!"
"Quickly, all of you!"
I hadn't even heard Gandalf's shout until it was too late, and Dwalin's hand had once again seized my arm. We slid toward the large crack in the rock, slipping down and down into a dark and narrow cave. We stumbled in the darkness - my left foot coming into contact with Bilbo's hobbit feet more than once. I muttered my apologies just as the dead Orc's body came crashing into the cave.
One word flooded my mind. Safe.
We were safe. But for how long?
The pathway leading from the cave was void of what little daylight was left. We passed tumbling streams of water seeping through the rocks, down and down passed the jagged corners and cliff sides until we reached a sight that stopped us in our tracks.
"The Valley of Imraldis," murmured Gandalf, staring off ahead. "In the Common Tongue, it's known by another name."
Beside me, Bilbo breathed the city's name. "Rivendell."
"Here lies the last Homely House east of the sea."
I stood to the side, gazing out at the beautiful scenery. How strange it was to believe that just minutes ago we had been running for our lives, racing through grasses and rockery away from Orcs and Wargs and other fantastical creatures and demons. The pounding in my ears had lessened somewhat. But my heart still raced and I jumped in fright as Bofur grasped my arm.
"You're bleeding, lass," he told me, looking down at the scrapes on my arm.
Three thin lines of blood trickled down my wrist toward the crease of my elbow.
Fili. And Kili. The brothers moved forward, following Bofur's line of sight to the minor injuries staining my skin.
My voice was strained. It felt like hours since I'd last used it. "I'm fine," I told them, wiping away the blood on my cloak. "Just a scratch. Nothing serious."
A short nod from Fili. "Watch that it doesn't get worse," he said. And he and his brother moved away from our corner of the cliffside, turning to engage their uncle and the legendary wizard in conversation.
Bofur smiled and nodded before moving to the side.
I looked back down at my cuts and licked my fingertips, cleaning the dirt and the blood away. And as I looked back down at the cuts, I found that my skin was clear. No cuts. No bruises. No signs of injury.
I had little time to dwell on that discovery, though, as Gandalf urged us forward, leading the way toward Rivendell.