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Trigger warning: Graphic battle scenes.
26. Battling a Troll
As usual during a battle, Wynne staid on Vatna and called the other horses back to her. The elves were lining up, the bowmen a bit behind and the swordsmen in the front, preparing to meet the approaching brute. Soon the zinging of arrows made the air hum.
The troll was huge, at least twice the height of the elves, with arms like tree trunks and sharp, protruding tusks. Its roar when it spotted them made the horses go almost mad with fright, and both Nugu, Sidra and the children fell off their rearing steeds. Wynne reluctantly dismounted. She had to let the animals run away alone this time, she just could not leave the uruk-hai family.
The children cried in pain and fright, but there was no time to check on them now.
“We must back away!” Wynne tried to pull Sidra to her, but the woman would not bulge. She was staring at the approaching troll with wide open eyes, her face a mask of dread.
“We were too late,” she whispered.
Galion, Thranduil and the troll came together almost soundlessly. It had no armour, and its only weapon was a sharpened, spearlike stick, but yet the elves’ swords met with its skin seemingly without affecting it in the least. The monster did not even twitch when Galion stabbed at the thick belly and Thranduil’s twin swords flicked thin cuts over its drooling snout. Arrow after arrow buried themselves deep in the rough hide, making it vaguely resemble a pin cushion.
“They will manage. They will beat it.” Nugu’s petrified face mirrored that of his wife. He had picked up the youngest boy in his arms, while the elder clung to his mother’s legs. “Let’s go.”
“Yes, we can’t stay here!” Wynne agreed, but it was like talking to a wall. Why would she not come?
The troll was too close, its howls deafening. With the fight only yards away, this was no safe place.
“See how fast they are, Thranduil is a whirlwind with his swords. Come, we must leave.” Sidra’s husband tried to drag her away.
“Wait.” She brushed his hand off.
Black blood trickled down the beast’s sides, and its roars changed pitch, like it had begun to feel pain. Was it going down? It was so impossibly big and strong. But yes! It was actually moving backwards! The elves followed it, winning ever more ground.
The troll came under a slight overhang, on top of which grew a twisted oak. Behind it was a passage of sorts, maybe it was trying to crawl back into its hole?
The monster was swaying now, and an arrow had taken one eye out. It waved the crude spear aimlessly on its blind side, spraying black droplets on the rocky ground.
“See? They will win. It’s all right,” Nugu pleaded.
“This is wrong. This is so wrong.” Sidra’s voice was distorted.
Wynne teared her eyes from the battle scene to look quizzically at the woman. What was she talking about? She acted like this was her fault.
Then Wynne suddenly understood. It really was Sidra’s fault. This was a trap! The uruk-hai and his woman must have led the elves to an area they knew had a mountain troll, under the pretense of taking them to their friends!
Bitter disappointment filled Wynne’s chest, and she looked away in disgust. She had thought Sidra was her friend, shared things about her family and everything. How could the woman have been so false?
Another hooting roar drew her eyes back to the troll. It was on its knees now, bleeding from the thick lips. Legolas made a swift jump up onto the ridge, peppering it with arrows from above.
Wynne began to breathe out, it surely did look like they would make it. They were seasoned warriors, of course they would.
Then something moved behind Legolas. Another troll! Where had that come from? It pounced on the elf, its fist sending him reeling forcefully against the oak.
Wynne cried out with shock.
The blond elf struggled to get to his feet again, turning to face this new danger. The bow was not a melee weapon, he tossed it to the side and pulled out a dagger, still with his back to the oak. The blade looked like a toy, tiny against the massive opponent.
The creature towered over him and he jabbed desperately, but it easily blocked his feeble attempts with its spear.
Nodir and Bronedir had discovered the new foe and turned to fire arrows at it, but the two swordsmen were still locked in combat with the first troll, unaware of what happened on the ridge above them.
“He will not make it. Nugu . He will not make it!” Sidra’s sounded urgent.
“Cut me loose,” Nugu barked, holding up his hands in Wynne’s face, blocking the sight of the troll sweeping Legolas’ dagger away with another thrust of the spear. “Now!” he added, when Wynne stared at him uncomprehendingly.
Her mind snapped back. Of course. The uruk-hai could help, he was strong as an ox.
With trembling hands she fumbled after her knife, and managed to unsheath it. In a frenzy she sawed at the rope. Why was it so thick?
While working, she cast nervous glances at the fight. Where was Legolas? Then she saw him, on his feet again! Still alive, but under heavy assault, the troll oblivious of the multitude of arrows sticking out of it.
Finally the rope was off, and the uruk-hai covered the few yards between him and the beast in huge strides. He climbed right up on top of the troll’s gnarled back, grabbing the massive head with both hands and trying to twist it. The troll reeled and growled, scrabbling at the annoying burden, but the uruk locked his legs around its throat. Again he began to twist, muscles bulging. He grunted with effort.
“Yes! Do it! Come on Nugu!” Sidra cheered.
With a sickening noise of breaking bones, the huge head was wrought around. The eyes bulged and from the mouth poured a fountain of obsidian liquid. A deep shudder went through the body and then it toppled over.
Wynne started running before it hit the ground.
“Legolas,” she murmured.
The king was faster, he had jumped onto the ridge in a single step. There he stopped dead, staring at his son.
Legolas had his back against the oak, swaying slightly. He was clasping both hands over his stomach, the eyes wide and confused.
“No...” Thranduil whispered, his face ashen.
Then Wynne saw it too. Legolas had been impaled, nailed against the tree by the troll’s crude spear. With a gurgling noise he slid off it, tumbling head first into the ground.
Thranduil wailed in agony. He fell on his knees and tried to lift the limp body.
Wynne could not move, only stare at the sobbing king and his son. A crimson stain expanded over Legolas’ green tunic.
Around her began a flurry of activity. Elves ran to and fro, someone was trying to stop the bleeding, another went after medical equipment. Wynne shook herself out of the paralyze and hurried to get the fire water, but she felt numb, disconnected from her body.
He would die. She loved him and he would die.
Back at the ridge, Thranduil was sobbing like a child, quite uselessly holding his son’s head while Galion and Nodir were working on the wound.
“Stay with me. Please stay.”
Legolas was awake and talking, cheerful even, but from the glossy eyes and flushed cheeks it was obvious he was deep in shock. It was disconcerting.
“I will Ada. Of course I will. This is not so bad.”
Bronedir made Legolas gulp down a mouthful of miruvor, their elvish reviving cordial, and meanwhile Galion poured a generous amount of Wynne’s fire water directly over the perforated skin. Legolas grunted, his face briefly contorted with pain, but then the strange cheerfulness was back.
“Do not cry.” He stroked his father’s wet cheek. “I will be fine.”
Wynne forced herself to look at the wound, and calmly assess the damage. The spear had pierced him about a hand’s width to the right of the navel. Were there any important organs in that area? The heart was higher up at least, but down there must be something too. Intestines?
Then she felt a surge when the blood drained from her face, and everything around her became hazy. As from a distance she heard Nugu’s calm voice.
“Bow your head down. Keep it low.”
Soft hands guided her to bend down, squatting with the head between her knees. It helped, the blood returned and the nausea subsided.
When she slowly rose again, cold sweat forming on her forehead, Sidra was there, embracing her. For now, Wynne let herself be held. She could think about the woman’s betrayal later.
“He needs a healer.” Galion’s voice was tense. He had covered the wound now, dressed it with absorbing material soaked in strong spirits and the elves’ healing herb paste, and then secured it with several layers of linen wraps.
“Damn it!” Nodir growled. “Minas Tirith must be the closest city from here, and that takes days to reach, even by boat.”
“We have to try or we shall certainly lose him.”
Ouch ouch ouch... poor Legolas. :'(
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