Summary: Aragorn's first kill is guided by his close friend. But comforting the human's troubled mind is beyond Legolas' abilities.
Rating: T (violence, gore)
Disclaimer: The characters are the property of the Tolkien Estate. No profit has been, nor will be made from this story.
Nightfall came earlier than usual, the changing of the seasons all the more obvious in the falling leaves and the thickening coats of various wild animals. The man and the elf wrapped themselves in blankets that hadn't been necessary on their last trip and had passed the night quietly, neither actually making it to the point of sleep.
Aragorn couldn't believe that he was out here with only Legolas to watch over him. The protectiveness of his family had never before relented to the point where he could go adventuring. And Legolas had promised to show him a sight he'd never forget. At first it had excited him, but now it was more a feeling of terror. He'd never been so far from home and he'd never felt less like a warrior. Legolas was wearing enough weapons that he was fairly certain this sight was much less safe than a waterfall, or even a wild boar.
His elven friend was worried for him. It hadn't been easy to convince Lord Elrond and the brothers Elrondion that this was the correct path. That allowing him to face combat, his first combat outside hunting or the practice arenas, was best done in such a high pressure situation. One where there wasn't a trained healer and plenty of other warriors to pick up the slack. Legolas thought that it would make it easier, there was no one to judge him, no one to pick up anything Aragorn missed. But it still was never-wracking.
Morning came far too early.
I can do this. Aragorn's hands were white-knuckled, gripping his bow, and shaking so much that every time he looked down at them, it made him feel as if he was about to fall out of the tree. The land below was still quiet in the early morning light and the flowers were just opening for the day.
Legolas could half see Aragorn from his position on the other side of the clearing. Unlike Aragorn, he was fully ready for the sun to bring with it the action they'd been promised. But then again, this was not his first combat and he'd drawn more blood than most mortal could in their lifetime. Something told him it was still too early for this, he needed to listen less to his friend and more to his head.
From far off in the distance came the first sounds of feet stomping in tandem. Legolas' ears peaked and his head turned for a moment, focusing in on the noise and then returning to his watchful position. With the smallest shift he reached to his side and pulled an arrow from his quiver, resting it gently on his bow. Ready to draw back the string as soon as there was reason.
Once the sun had hit the centre of the sky and signalled midday to all, things began to change. It was the afternoon and the sun's power and the power of those that were good and bright had peaked for the day. Others, fouler things, quickened their pace and the beat made the ground rumble with each step taken in tandem.
Aragorn had long ago loosened his grip on the wood of the bow. His hand still hurt a bit from the position and now he was biting his lip and playing nervously with the feathers on the end of the arrow. He glanced at Legolas, but the elf motioned his gaze towards the path they'd set up to watch.
A great thunder filled the air, broken by screams and the sound of metal on metal and on wood. Clouds of dust announced the battle host. The first scouts came into view, running full out covered in head to toe in grime and laden with heavy and blood encrusted packs.
There were leaders of some kind pulled in covered cart, more than a few warg riders and countless foot soldiers. Some with bows, others with pikes. All of the weapons in disrepair and Aragorn saw every make of weapon he knew of in their grubby fists. Elven bows and Dwarven axes, the swords of Men and even the roughly put together weapons of Orcs. Only the famous sling shots of the halflings weren't there.
The sun passed over the storm of Orcs and over the two friends sitting in their trees. As the moon began to rise, steady stream slowed to a trickle and then finally to a stop. Aragorn made to call out to Legolas, having tried to keep a general count going, not with much luck, but Legolas held up a hand and then motioned to his ear and notched the arrow into its place.
Noisily a small band of Orcs stamped along the already made path. One saw the clearing and gave the air a long sniff before stepping into it. Aragorn took one more glance at Legolas before notching his own arrow and squinting down his line of sight, focusing in on his target.
Legolas' first arrow caught one in the throat. Aragorn shot and missed more than he hit, but the Orcs were ignoring him. They gathered around Legolas' tree and soon even the elf was out of arrows. Not one had been wasted, but not enough had existed to begin with.
Aragorn put a hand to his blade hilt and looked nervously at the ground. The idea of combat was terrifying, but so was the idea of the Orcs chopping down the tree to get to Legolas who couldn't very well jump down to save himself.
With a leap and a battle cry, Aragorn flung himself from his perch and drew his sword, drawing a deep breath as he watched the three Orcs turn towards him. He raised it above his head and remembered the practices he'd done. All the hours spent drilling.
He came out of a haze when Legolas shook him. The pattens and practice had taken over, but now, now things were different. Aragorn took one look at the Orcs and promptly threw up. They were thin and with ragtag weapons. The leeches that follow any large camp, whether human or Orc. They were not cared for, not fed or armed by the battle host. They weren't so different from men he had reasoned with and used words rather than violence.
A hand touched his shoulder and another offered him a water bottle to wash away the taste. He took a sip and raised his head, really looking over the bodies. One had been cut deeply in the chest and something red still beat there.
With morbid curiosity he took a step forward, ignoring Legolas' calls to stay his eyes and turn away. Inside the Orc's chest, an engorged ball of blood pumped, letting spurts fly into the air with each pump. He put a hand to his own chest, wondering what it would be like to have his heart exposed for all to see, with the blood pouring out onto the ground.
He fell to knees, puking as images of his father came to forefront and what had happened. He had heard little and remembered nothing. But he had seen the aftermath or Orc attacks before. And now he had call something. Something with a beating, loving heart.