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A/N: to understand this story fully it would be advisable to read part 1.
Warning: the story is rated PG-13: this chapter contains violence, disturbing themes, and death
Chapter 6: picking up the pieces
Calan looked up when a deep moan came from the bed that his Lord Celeborn occupied. He placed the book he was reading aside and rose. Not two hours ago, Celeborn had uttered a panicked cry and opened his eyes while looking around with an uncomprehending expression.
No reassuring words could calm down the distressed elf, and he had fallen back into a catatonic state once more. The chief healer had feared the worst. The resistance of his lord had finally faltered. Even if he was still shallowly breathing, Calan was not sure if this state could be described as living.
All the more, he was surprised when his patient now looked back at him. The panicked expression was gone from the grey eyes.
The chief healer of Lothlórien bent forward to look at the Elf-lord.
“My Lord Celeborn, how do you feel?”
The silver-haired elf looked tired his complexion grey.
“Am I dead?”
Calan squeezed the elf´s shoulder.
“No, my lord, you are alive. I suggest you rest some more.”
Calan barely finished his last words as the elf had already closed his eyes and was now deeply sleeping, or so he hoped. Calan sighed. Was the crisis over?
He doubted that. Celeborn was far from being back to his usual self. He was not even sure what state the Elf-lord was in.
Rising, Calan directed his gaze toward the assumed direction of the dark hill. With his lady gone and his lord in dire need of help, the future of the Galadhrim looked bleak.
When Glorfindel came around, he blinked and instantly felt a pounding headache. He raised his hand to touch his brow and was not surprised when his hand came back bloody. Some of the debris lying around him must have hit him. Bushing dirt and smaller stones from his clothing, he came carefully into a sitting position. Swallowing he suppressed the rising nausea while looking around.
Much of the ceiling had come down and buried all in the cave. Orcs and elves alike. Glorfindel´s head jerked into the direction where he had last seen Galadriel. Not a wise action with a possible concussion but he did not care. With a groan, he rose and stumbled forward. He could not find his sword, nor his bow now, yet no orc seemed to have survived the downfall.
Even if he was glad for the stillness, the utter silence grated on his nerves. When he saw part of a boot under a boulder, he quickened his steps until he had reached the fallen elf.
“Galadriel?” he asked in a hushed voice while relieving the she-elf of the debris lying atop of her. Glorfindel swallowed when he saw the lady´s closed eyes. A river of blood was running down her face coming from her skull. The arrow which had brought her down earlier had broken above the skin; no chance for him to retrieve it easily.
Glorfindel looked around. Even if their situation was dire, Galadriel apparently managed to ban the evil spirit from Dol Guldur. He doubted Sauron himself had resided here.
Galadriel was powerful, but against Morgoth’s mighty servant, she would not have succeeded—at least not with one try. Anyway, this opponent had been powerful enough almost to take down Elrond and now possibly Celeborn. And the concerted attacks of late had also shown that this fiend had been no lesser one.
Even if the orcs in the vast cave had been struck down by the downpour, he was sure more would come soon. They had lost their leader but even unorganized, orcs in masses were dangerous.
“Galadriel?” he tried again, but when he got no response, he lifted the nearly lifeless body in his arms and rose.
Nearly dropping her again, the golden-haired warrior stumbled when stars danced before his eyes. He took steady and deep breaths until his vision cleared.
Only now, he registered that his left side hurt with every breath he took. Possibly broken ribs along with a concussion—not a good start to leave the underground caves of Dol Guldur.
Slowly retrieving his steps back to where he had lain he shoved some debris aside with his boot and sighed relieved when he spotted his sword. Carefully rearranging Galadriel over his shoulder to get his hands free, he retrieved his sword and felt a good deal better, at least where their ability to stand their ground was concerned.
Careful not to stumble he returned to the tunnel entrance and entered the dark column. It was pitch black, the power burst of the battle had blown out all torches. Elves could see well enough in the dark; nonetheless, Glorfindel carefully set one foot in front of the other. His side hurt with every step he took, and he was not sure if he fell that he could stand up again.
Much too soon he heard the typical snarling of orcs.
“Just what I need now,” he mumbled. He shifted the still unconscious body of the lady for the uncounted time, bringing no relief to his numb shoulder and hurting side.
He quickened his steps not willing to face a horde of orcs in this cramped space with no room to fight. For a moment, he stopped and listened. The steps of the orcs halted also.
The enemy had picked up on the flight of the elves and was now following him.
When he heard a low moan, he quickly squeezed into a crevice to his left and carefully lifted Galadriel from his shoulder. Preventively he held his hand over her mouth in case she would make another sound. The noises the orcs were making were quickly coming closer.
When Galadriel had opened her eyes, Glorfindel placed his finger over his lips. She nodded in understanding. Gently, Glorfindel felt for the head wound and soon found a long gash running from the back of her head to her hairline. Glorfindel suppressed a wince. Thankfully it had stopped bleeding. Nonetheless, it must have been painful apart from a prominent headache.
Suppressing another groan, Galadriel struggled into a sitting position. Blood was still pouring from the arrow wound in her chest. Glorfindel had the impression that he could hear a rattling sound whenever she took a breath.
“Don´t move too much, Galadriel. I will remove the arrow as soon as we are out of here.” He had barely spoken above a whisper, but his voice exploded in the tunnel. Galadriel only nodded much too occupied, to take steadying breaths. Glorfindel had ripped a piece of fabric from his shirt. Galadriel took it and pressed it at the cut on her skull.
Just at that moment, the orcs trooped past crevice. Glorfindel quickly threw his cape over their heads to cover their golden heads.
When the orcs had passed, they stayed a few moments longer before Glorfindel lifted the cover.
“We should leave, more orcs are searching for us,” Galadriel said pain prominent in her voice.
Glorfindel did not ask how Galadriel knew this but did not doubt that statement.
“You will have to help me,” she ground out with clenched teeth.
Glorfindel only nodded. This statement was unnecessary. He could see that the Lady of Light was trembling from pain. A thin sheen of sweat had appeared on her brow, and her face looked ashen.
Carefully but valiantly he pulled the she-elf to her feet. For a short moment, Galadriel rested her head on his shoulder until her ragged breath had slowed down.
“Let us leave, Glorfindel.”
With her hand firmly clasped in his, Glorfindel walked down the corridor Galadriel dragging with him. He could hear her increasing ragged breathing and feel her slowing steps. The grip on his hand became more and more crushing.
“We are almost there; I can already see the light.”
When he got no response, he turned concerned. Galadriel had her eyes squeezed shut and was swaying dangerously. He wriggled his hand free and knelt in front of her.
“We will take a short break.”
Galadriel shook her head.
“You have to go alone. I can go no further. I would only slow you down.” She had not even the strength to open her eyes.
“Sure, and explain to your husband that I have left his injured wife behind in a cave with orcs? I think not!”
Before Galadriel could argue back, Glorfindel had lifted her in his arms and quickly walked the remaining distance to the cave entrance.
When he stepped outside, he blinked into the bleary sun and took a deep breath. Despite the depressing atmosphere of Mirkwood, the air was so much clearer outside the dark hill.
Leaving the main path and veering to the right into a small brush of bushes, Glorfindel managed to shelter them from plain sight. He sank to his knees and gently placed Galadriel on the ground. He kept sitting on his heels and took slow, steadying breaths. The occasionally piercing pain in his side had changed into a permanent dull throbbing, and he knew this was not good.
Just as he wanted to look at Galadriel´s arrow wound, he felt the hairs on his back stand up. He sprung up and whirled around, his sword already drawn. The orc careless enough to stand too near was beheaded in an instant.
The piercing in his side nearly stole his breath away, and before he could lift his sword for the next strike, he felt two strong and muscular arms encircling him from behind.
He felt and smelled the stinking breath of an Uruk near his ear.
“Tsk, tsk, pretty one keep still, or your pretty lady will pay the ultimate prize after she has enjoyed every one of my men.”
Glorfindel stopped his struggling when he saw another Uruk-hai rip Galadriel´s shirt apart and let his hand wander down her chest. He swallowed in rage. Gratefully she had lost consciousness.
“Leave her alone,” he snarled and struggled against the iron grip. Weakened due to his injury he could not muster the strength to shake the Uruk off.
When a hard punch landed on his injured ribs, he could not suppress a pained cry. The Uruk no longer needed to hold him up. He sagged to the ground and curled into a fetal position to breathe through the pain and banish the stars before his eyes.
Seconds later, he was pulled up roughly and dragged to a nearby tree. Concentrating on not passing out, seconds later he was bound to the tree with his hands pulled painfully over his head.
“So, now let us have our fun.”
Glorfindel looked up and froze when an Uruk heaved Galadriel up and licked his lips.
“No!” Glorfindel cried. “Take me, do what you want with me but let her alone.”
The Uruk holding Galadriel tilted his head to the side as if earnestly considering the elf´s words.
“But where would be the fun in this?” he asked. Tightening his hold on the unconscious form, he turned and stomped away.
“Kill him,” he called over his shoulder.
Glorfindel closed his eyes.
The Uruk who had bound Glorfindel to the tree draw his bow.
To be continued…
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