Cling and Clatter: Part II
by Jules


Refuse to feel, anything at all
refuse to slip, refuse to fall
Can't be weak, can't stand still
You watch your back
Cos no-one will

The clatter of hooves was a most unusual sound that greeted the ears of the few guards on watch. Rare was it that any horse entered the cell block, and even then it was either the village elders or a wild beast that had escaped the roundyards. Curious they left their posts and ventured into the dark corridor, barely able to make out the figures approaching. Before they could draw their swords the horse was upon them, its shoes sending sparks flying as it skidded around the corner. The rider leaned low out of the saddle, using the animals' momentum to aid the vicious swing of his knife. The dull thump of a head landing beside the feet who owned it was drowned out as the rattle of hooves on stone echoed throughout the passageways. His fellow guard could only watch in horror as his junior officer was decapitated by a shadowy figure on a horse, then he noticed the second figure, much thinner that the other, yet with blonde hair and pointed ears. Before he could add the two together the horse was gone, bearings it riders ever closer to freedom. His mind mentally placed the blonde pointy eared one as one who worked in the breaking yards, under the watch of a few of his own underlings. Knowing there was nothing he could do for the decapitated body in front of him he ran towards the roundyards, needing to know how the two prisoners escaped and hopefully giving those responsible a good lashing. Rounding the corner to the Elf's usual working yard he knew something was amiss. The doors hung open and when he peered in, the sight of a dead guard, surrounded by a mass of bloodied sand greeted his eyes. No he would not be giving a good lashing today.

Aragorn held the skittish horse steady as the small square of light grew rapidly larger in front of them, he knew the entrance was protected by two guards who would have been alerted to their presence by the noise they created. He repeated his earlier move of striking out with the knife on one side, while this time kicking his foot out of the stirrup at just the right time so as it connected with the head of the guard on the opposing side, effectively rendering both hulking natives harmless. They galloped onwards, finally leaving the horror of the cells behind them as they streaked away in a random direction, not caring where they ended up as long as it was far from where they had been.

A short time into the ride Aragorn felt Legolas slump forward in the saddle, nearly falling had he not been supported from behind by the human. The Ranger knew stopping this close to the village was still dangerous as the guards would be well and truly aware of the carnage they left during their departure. Wrapping both his arms around the elf and holding the reins in front of his companion they galloped on, putting more distance between the themselves and the village with each passing stride.

Hours later the Ranger checked the pace of the horse back to a walk, fairly confident in the fact that they would not be found. He had used rocky paths, streams and steep inclines to cover the tracks of their passage, and knew that even an experienced Ranger would have a time tracking them. Finding a green glen by a stream Aragorn pulled the steed to a halt, first sliding off himself before easing the limp form of his companion out of the saddle. He laid Legolas gently on the ground before quickly tying the horse to a tree, feeling slightly guilty as the animal's flanks heaved for breath and dripped with sweat. His priorities reasserted themselves as his gaze returned to the unconscious Elf. He moved and knelt by his friends' side, wishing desperately for his healing herbs as he took in the diaphoretic skin and the sand encrusted festering wound. As gently as he could he tore the surrounding cloth from around the kick site, and used a piece of his own tattered shirt to soak in the stream. Lifting the now soaked rag he squeezed the liquid over the wound, using the pressure of the fluid to clean the majority of the sand away. He thanked Valar that his friend was unconscious, and knew if it were otherwise, the screams of the elf would be echoing around the surrounding hillside. Having cleared most of the sand away he rinsed the cloth and as carefully as his shaking hands would allow he cleaned the remaining sand, blood and dead tissue away, hoping the Elf's healing ability would now be able to handle a clean wound.

You don't know why they had to go this far,
traded your worth for these scars
for your only company.

It was many hours before the Elf stirred once more, his mind struggling to comprehend all that had happened in the past day. His eyes flickered open and the movement caught the watchful glance of Aragorn. The human moved quickly to Legolas' side, holding him down as the Elf struggled to rise.

" Be still Legolas, we have escaped the village for now" he whispered soothingly, releasing his hold as the Elf relaxed against the grass. The heightened senses of the Elf took in the new surrounding, his eyes asking the question the Ranger knew was coming.

" The village is many hours behind us, I used one of your better breaking horses to overpower the guards. As soon as you are able we should move on, lest they are fortunate and have another Ranger hidden within their cells."

Legolas seemed to accept the explanation for now, it fitted with the fragmented view of events his memory left him with, and he assumed all was well. Glancing down at his horridly skeletal body he noticed to him the first time the bloody mark upon his chest.

" Did I....?" he asked bewildered. It didn't feel like he'd been stabbed, he couldn't remember being stabbed, yet his memory of all events after being first awoken in the morning were somewhat unreliable. A smile crept onto the face of Aragorn, twitching the corners of his mouth upwards.

" Alas no Legolas, though you played the dead Elf very well. To fool the guard I used some of the blood from your leg to makeshift a convincing stab wound. I didn't think you would mind too much at the time. " He added, still smirking.

The rumbling of stomachs and the dimming of the sun brought both to the realisation that they truly were free, spending their first night away from cells, stale bread and weak broth. Leaving Legolas slumbering somewhat peacefully, his eyes now open but glazed with sleep, Aragorn rose and wandered a short distance from their makeshift camp to scout for food. His stomach growled noisily as he found some common edible berries as well as some wild roots he could grind and use as a mild disinfectant for Legolas' wound. Picking as many roots and berries as he could carry he made his way back to his companion, his mind still warning him about the dangers of the guards hunting them, but his heart soaring as they spend their first night of freedom under the stars.

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