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13. Legolas to the Aid
A few moments passed, and Wynne began to feel very tired. She had no idea how it could be possible in a scary and dangerous situation as this one, but somehow she felt her eyelids go heavy and even drowsed off a few times.
A strong pounding made her wide awake, and a loud, very angry voice called out imperiously.
“Open up! Open the door this instant, or I shall break it to pieces!”
It was Legolas!
A flood of warmth surged through Wynne. The elves had found her! By some means they had managed to track her captors all the way here.
The orcs jumped to their feet, uttering ugly words in their language, possibly curses. Lug pulled Wynne up, while Burz opened a door behind the sacks and crates that Wynne had not noticed before.
They dragged her through the opening and into another low passage, similar to the one they had entered through. Meanwhiles the pounding increased behind them, and loud thuds indicated that the entrance door was being worked on with something heavy, like an axe or a hammer.
The passage ended behind another round door, very much like the first one, and outside there was open grasslands again. The orcs towed Wynne after them and hurried out a few yards, crouching as in fear of a rain of arrows. But their precaution was unnecessary, the hill was empty when they turned around to check. The elves apparently were still on the other side, unaware that there was a back door.
With a thrill Wynne noticed the horses, grazing not very far away. If she could call Vatna to her, she might be able to escape on horseback. But before she could try, she felt strong orc hands grasp her again. They did not lose any time. Lug threw Wynne on his shoulder and started to run, and she had no chance to stop him, not with her hands still tied behind her back.
She got another idea. The elves were near, and they had exceptional hearing.
“Help! HELP!” she yelled, on top of her lungs.
Lug stopped with another curse (presumably) and shook Wynne roughly.
“Quiet, woman! I shall...” But he never got to finish telling what he would do, because five elves had jumped up from behind the hill, two with swords raised and the others with bows drawn. Three metal-tipped arrows pointed straight to the orcs.
“Release her!” Thranduil’s voice was low, and frostier than ice.
Lug and Burz quickly joined close together, and hid behind Wynne’s body like a human shield. She felt the sharp point of a blade against her neck.
“Back off , or it’s bye-bye to the gal!” growled Lug.
“Yeah, we got knives and we ain’t afraid to use ‘em,” said Burz. “Frickin’ elves,” he added, and spat.
Everything came to a standstill. Only a few yards separated Wynne from her friends, but it might as well have been a deep abyss. Neither of them could make a move, or she would be killed.
Her plan to call to the elves for help had amounted to nothing.
Wynne saw frustration and anger in her friends’ faces. Legolas, especially, was fuming, she had never seen him look this furious before. Galion, Nodir and Bronedir were trembling with pent up energy, and Thranduil’s dark brows were so deeply drawn together that his eyes had become almost invisible.
What could they do?
Nothing. That was the depressing answer. They would have to let the orcs go eventually, it was the only way. And the orcs would naturally take Wynne with them as a guarantee for their safety. This was exactly what she had feared all along.
Unless… Her mind began to race. What if she could somehow cause a distraction, something to make them look away? Just a moment would be enough.
The horses! They must still be there, they had been close just then.
Wynne whistled her special signal, and immediately the flock came galloping with pounding hooves. The orcs turned around, startled, and that was all she needed to jump to the side and roll away in the grass.
Arrows zinged and the orcs howled, and then it was quiet.
Wynne lay with her eyes closed, panting heavily, still not really sure it was over. The she felt someone carefully cutting lose her bonds, and someone else put a blanket over her. She gratefully huddled under it, shivering like in a fever, while the elves cleared away the corpses and made camp right there on the spot.
As soon as it was up, Wynne hurried inside her tent to change clothes. She knew the elves would have questions about what had happened, but she really did not want to talk about it, or even face them. They had seen her with ripped clothes, exposed and humiliated. She had proven how useless she was, how vulnerable and easy to catch.
When she unpacked her other chemise, Wynne’s hands trembled so hard she almost dropped it, and tears poured from her eyes. She wiped them off, but new ones replaced them. It took ages to dress, and all the while she cried so much that the new clothes were almost soaked when she was done.
She sat on the bedroll, with a thick cloak tightly wrapped around her, and buried her face into her knees. She was safe now, then why did she behave like this? Another example of her disgusting weakness.
“May I come in?” Legolas’ voice was husky and full of concern.
Wynne did not want him to see her like this, but also did not want to be alone. He had understood her fear before, that time after the first orc fight. Maybe he would understand her now as well.
“Yes.” The word came out as a pathetic squeak.
Legolas closed the tent flap behind him and sat close to her.
“I am so, so sorry. ” He sounded devastated, anguished even, and Wynne looked up in surprise, peering at him through swollen eyes.
“ You are sorry? But I…”
“We should never have left you alone. So careless! So stupid! Because of our inattention they… they... hurt you.” His eyes were dark. “I wish I could have killed those accursed scoundrels twice . Nay, thrice!”
It dawned on Wynne then. He must think they had done things to her. That Lug really had finished what he began, and forced himself on her.
“They did not hurt me.” She sniffed. “The ropes chafed a bit, but besides that I am really fine. I don’t know why I keep blubbering like this.”
“They did not?” He sounded doubtful.
“No. The big one tried, but… changed his mind.” Wynne prefered not to explain the reason for Lug’s hesitation. “And then you came.”
Legolas visibly relaxed and without warning he hugged her tightly, almost painfully. She clung to him in return, and finally felt the trembling subside.
“I am still sorry,” he mumbled into her hair. “We put you in danger. And let the orcs scare you. You have every right to despise us.”
“You shouldn’t feel you have to protect me. Like I need a guard. I’d be a burden.”
“Never. Your aid in this quest is invaluable. The way you manage the horses… the way you used them today to escape. It was impressive.”
He sounded sincere, and his words warmed her.
It had become quite dark, and a nice smell of stew reached Wynne’s nostrils. Her stomach rumbled.
“Are you feeling well enough to go out?” Legolas asked kindly. “If not, I can bring you supper in here. You need to eat.”
“Thank you. But I think I’d like to go out. I haven’t thanked you all for saving me.”
“No need for gratitude, you managed quite well on your own. Had we not come, you would have found a way to flee on your Vatna, I am sure. But I am glad that you did not, for it gave me the opportunity to put an arrow in each of those filths’ heads.” Legolas’ smile was grim.
Wynne did not think she would have managed to escape, she remembered all too well the strange apathy that had overcome her, but she liked that he believed it. It was flattering that he seemed to think so highly of her ability to fend for herself.
For her part, she was sure it was only because the elves had come, that she had woken up from her frozen state. Just seeing them standing there on the hill, weapons drawn, had invigorated her.
Then she thought of something.
“By the way, how did you find me? The orcs seemed so careful not to leave any tracks.”
“Do you really want to know?”
“Yes, of course!”
“Well… there was this trail of… hrm. Vomit.”
His smile went very wide when he saw the face Wynne made.
Ugh... not the nicest way to be found, I dare say. :D
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