Cling and Clatter: Part V
by Jules

Don't believe the lies that they have told to you
Not one word was true

Moonlight streamed from above, stars twinkled and a few stray clouds send their silver wisps across the night sky. The stillness of night allowed the Ranger to be fairly sure they hadn't been followed, no sounds of hoofbeats, hound barks or booted footfalls greeted his ears and he breathed a partial sigh of relief. His concern was still for his comrade, he had not awoken from the slumber than claimed him soon after they arrived at the stream. It was now Aragorn could have a closer look at his companion. He picked up the roots and berries he had gathered and moved to his friends' side. He took in the skeletal look of the Elf's body, the sunken eyes, the dull matted hair, pale clammy skin and lack of muscle-tone. Just how long the Elf had been in the village cells Aragorn did not know, but he knew that if they had remained there Legolas would not have lasted much longer, the shear effort of his daily physical tasks too much for his already weakened body to take. He knew he didn't look much better himself with his clothing torn and body painfully thin. His rumbling stomach brought his attention back to the berries he held in his hands and he gently shook the Elf's shoulder to wake him.

Legolas awoke to a hand shaking his shoulder. He groaned in pain as the shoulder he had hit the ground with the day before moved against his will, his efforts to stop the hand shaking it making it ache all the more. The hand retracted instantly with the groan and Legolas forced his eyes open, wondering why he had been pulled from his slumber. Berries red and juicy appeared before his eyes, and hands moved to the back of his shoulderblades, aiding him in rising into a sitting position. The dark form of Aragorn shifted into Legolas' somewhat still blurry vision, again offering the berries that almost glittered in the moonlight. Aragorn said something regarding grinding a root for his leg wound and he vacantly nodded, his mind still not alert. Aragorn quickly ground the root between his dagger and a smooth stone, lifting the bandage he had applied earlier and packing the wound with the creamy substance of the root. Legolas scrunched his face with pain, his muscles tensing as fresh agony coursed through his system. When Aragorn was done he replaced the bandage and once again offered the berries to his companion. Legolas willed his arm to move towards the ripe fruit, begged his aching muscles to respond to his wishes yet was only granted by a small shudder, the arm stubbornly refusing its owners' request. A sigh of frustration escaped Legolas' pale lips, he hated being helpless, made that way by the failings of his own body. He was an Elf, he was not supposed to ail, weary or die. Yet here he was, weak to the point of not being able to raise his own arm to take the food offered to him. He cursed the villagers in his mind, allowing only a few choice Elven expletives to pass through his lips. Aragorn looked at his companion, his eyesbrows arched at the muttered words of frustration.

" You're body is weak Legolas, you will heal rapidly, but until then, I will aid you. There is no shame in accepting the aid of a friend."

Legolas nodded at the words and allowed himself to be fed, accepting the humiliation and instantly grateful Gimli was not here to witness such an event. Soon the berries were finished and Aragorn aided his friend in moving to the stream. The task was an arduous one, Legolas still weak from the infected wound in his leg and his body aching with fever and pain. Slowly they moved together, the Elf leaning on the human, who was actually using the Elf for support himself. Reaching the stream's edge they both collapsed in an ungraceful heap, sweat beading on both brows from the short excursion. Cupping his hands Legolas dipped them into the cool clear water of the stream, savouring the feeling of clean water over his skin. He drank his fill and rolled once more onto his back, letting his muscles relax and content to just listen to the sound of the rushing water.

The moon was now high in the sky, gracefully making its arc across the starstudded backdrop of black. Its rays shone down on the two companions and providing them with light for their tasks. Legolas fell into slumber, dreams of his burnt home filling his unconscious thoughts until dawn came. Aragorn steadfastly took guard, keeping alert to the sounds of the forest around them, straining his senses for any hint that they may still have been followed, even though he knew the chances were very slim.

Hours later a moan shattered the silence of the incoming dawn. Aragorn's head whipped around to the sound, his hand instantly on the small hilt of the guards' dagger. Legolas moaned and stirred within his sleep, his brow once again slick with sweat even though his body was racked with the shivers of fever. The ranger silently berated himself for not monitoring his friends' condition more acutely as he moved to the ailing Elf's side, his fingers feeling the rapid and shallow beating of Legolas' heartbeat as he felt for a pulse. He tore another strip of his already shredded garments and soaked it in the stream, running the cool water across his friends sweat covered brow. Legolas hissed in his sleep at the contact as though he could feel the cool relief from his feverish nightmares. Aragorn tried to wake the Elf, calling his name and shaking his shoulder again while he replaced the cloth on his brow. No response came forth save for a few incoherent Elvish mutterings.

Concern mounted again within Aragorn for his friends' health, he would not have his most trusted companion die from an infection after surviving and escaping the hell they had both endured. He was torn as to what course of action he should take. He lifted the bandage on the Elf's leg, gasping as he saw the root he had applied early turning a distinct shade of greenish-black meaning only one thing, infection had well and truly set in. He knew time was short, Elves were strong, but an Elf that had been through as much as Legolas had was seriously weakened and may not be able to handle an infection as aggressive as the one that now plauged his friend. He had to get him to a healer.

When your day is long
And the night
The night is yours alone
When you're sure
You've had
Enough of this life

Legolas' eyes had slipped closed as Aragorn hastily resaddled their horse, half-dragging the stubborn animal to wear his friend lay still shivering. Slipping an arm through the reins the ranger lifted his companion as gently as he could into the saddle, holding him there with one arm as he swung into the saddle behind him. Aragorn shook with exhaustion as he gave their mount a good nudge to get them moving. He still rode in the direction away from the evil village, though he did not care which other village they landed in, only that Legolas had to see a healer soon. For nearly three hours they galloped solidly, the horse starting to gasp for breath as a mountain village came into sight. The horse doggedly continued its frantic pace seeming to sense its rider's urgency and they were soon within the village walls. Aragorn pulled the animal to a halt at the gatekeepers cottage, leaning the unconscious form of the Elf forward along the horses' neck so he wouldn't fall. The ranger pounded on the door, ignoring the rather distasteful look the gatekeeper gave him as he opened the door. As soon as the fallen Elf came into view the gatekeeper silently pointed to a cottage at the far end of the village, muttering something about a healer who lived there before once again shutting the door on the stranger. Aragorn mounted the still heaving horse and rode it at a slightly more sedate pace to the healer's cottage. Once again he pounded upon the wooden door, he voice faltering him as an elderly woman greeted him with a glare.

" I was told you were the healer, my friend may be dying" he finally got out, gesturing to Legolas still unconscious on the horse. The woman nodded and disappeared deep within the cottage, indicated Aragorn to follow with the Elf. Hurridly the human removed his companion from their horse and followed the elderly lady into the cottage, careful to mind his head on the low ceilings and beams. The woman indicated a cot with clean sheets to one side of a room at the rear of the cottage and Aragorn placed Legolas there, quickly filling the healer in on the events of the past few days. She seemed quick shocked that they had survived the prison, and even more shocked when she heard of their escape. He had not the time to question her before she started pealing the bandage from around Legolas' wound. A foul stench filled the room as the wound was exposed to the air, the smell of decaying flesh assulting the nostrils of those present.

" We must work quickly, little time is left for him" she told Aragorn as she reached for several jars on the shelves that lined the walls. Pulling the tops of 4 of the jars she combined the ingredients together in a small bowl, grinding them together with a small amount of boiling water before packing it the festering wound. Legolas twisted and moaned in his feverish semi-conscious state, his fists balling and teeth clenching as the poultice was applied. Again the woman returned to the jars on the walls and created another poultice, this time wrapping it in cool wet linen before applying it to the Elf's still sweating forehead.

" This should help bring his fever down, it is all I can do until the poultice on his leg kills the infection. We must now wait for the herbs to do their work" she said as she seated herself next to the head of the bed after fetching a small pail of cool water and another cloth. She striped the Elf of most of his clothing and draped cool cloths on his body, trying desperately to rid him of the fever that consumed him.

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