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A/N: Italicized phrases are quotes direction from Tolkein.
It seemed like yesterday that Pippin and Merry had convinced him over an ale in a smoky corner of The Green Dragon that Frodo was up to something. Merry had known about the Ring even before Bilbo went away. He'd also read Mr. Bilbo's book, sneaky chap. In the spring, he enlisted Sam, who had felt every bit the outsider. While he would have liked to proclaim Mr. Frodo's innocence in their suspicions of "up to something," Mr. Frodo was a Baggins and Mr. Bilbo had seen something in him—likely that something was a quality a more hobbit-like hobbit would have found odd or bewildering. So he had agreed, however reluctantly, that Mr. Frodo needed to be kept an eye on—for his own good. He and Fatty, whom Sam hoped was safely tucked away at Crickhollow, and Merry and Pippin had kept a close eye on Frodo because they were terrified he'd go away on his own like Bilbo had.
He'd had no idea-no idea-of the consequences of his "spying". That a wizard had been involved should have been a clue, and, though Gandalf had let him off lightly upon discovery, said wizard's admonitions about the Ring and Sauron should have made it blatantly obvious just what he was getting into. Sam knew that if he'd wanted to avoid danger, he should have refused, but even then, he just couldn't. He suspected the Gaffer's stubbornness was partly to blame, and sometimes he wondered if Gandalf had but a spell on him. He couldn't really explain his loyalty, but Frodo Baggins was the best of hobbits, and Sam meant to see him through to the end—and hopefully back home again.
"Don't you leave him," Gildor had said. A day hadn't gone by where he'd not thought those words. He certainly couldn't leave Frodo when the Black Riders pursued them. And he couldn't leave after Weathertop, where he had at last begun to understand the forces against them. And he couldn't through Caradharas or Moria. He knew now that the couldn't leaves wouldn't let up until the task was finished.
The business with the Ring mattered, of course it did, but Mr. Frodo mattered more. Leastwise to him. He knew that what was best for them all was for It to be destroyed, and Sam wouldn't leave Frodo to the task alone, a task made all the harder by said hobbit's refusal to realize his importance in the grand scheme of things.
"Please hide," Merry was pleading, his voice hushed and frantic, but loud enough to carry.
"Not if you don't!"
The trees of the Golden Wood loomed to the nearby South and with every step toward them the tall grasses that hid them thinned a bit more.
An orc pressed down on them and Frodo pivoted, then jabbed at him before retreating several paces and crouching hidden in once more in the grasses. The trick was not to stick around long enough to see the orc's revenge.
Another orc rushed at the two cousins. It was all Sam could do to hold Frodo back from intervening. Sam couldn't hear the frantic conversation the two seemed to be having, but they didn't seem to notice their peril. The fabric of Frodo's coat threatened to rip from Sam's fingers as he strained toward his cousins. They watched, horrified, as the orc raised his sword and began to bring it down with such force that it would cleave the youngest hobbit in two.
They were too far away to do anything but follow the orc's sword with their eyes as it swung downward. Sam was not naïve enough to hope Pippin's parry would have any effect. Then Merry was there next to Pippin, stabbing fiercely upward.
Sam's knees nearly went weak with relief. Another orc slipped through and they scrambled backwards again, but it seemed enough to awaken Frodo from his stupor. They moved as a team, Frodo hacking at the orc's left, and Sam at its right. When it fell, they crouched back down in the grasses.
"Do you want to do something useful, Merry?!" Pippin's voice carried from over the throng. Frodo's head jerked up and locked onto Pippin's face. Sam had always known it would come to this. The two cousins avoided Frodo's piercing gaze, but looked at him. Words weren't needed—if Frodo wouldn't leave, then they would keep him safe another way.
Frodo didn't understand, but Sam did. His cousins would do anything for Frodo, with the understanding that Sam would remain by his side. And, of course, he would. He wouldn't—couldn't—leave Frodo while he still breathed. He squared his jaw and gave a Merry and Pippin a small nod.
You can trust us to stick to you through thick and thin—to the bitter end. And you can trust us to keep any secret of yours—closer than you keep it yourself. But you cannot trust us to let you face trouble alone, and go off without a word. Sam willed Frodo to remember Merry's words from that evening months ago at Crickhollow.
Beside him, Frodo was pleading, "Run, please, just run." But they wouldn't be able to hear, not that it mattered.
"Who knows, maybe we'll live." Pippin's cheeky voice wafted over the din, and he turned and gave Frodo a small smile.
"No, no, no, no, no…" Frodo was whispering harshly at them, his face pale, and his voice growing louder as grief overwhelmed his caution. "No—don't do it you fools. Just run—just go!" But his words were drowned out as they sprang up, clashing their swords together and hurling insults at the orcs before turning tail and fleeing to the tree line. They made more noise than a raucous drinking party. An orc horn blew and the shadows around them thinned as orc after orc peeled away to pursue the pair dashing toward the wood. He felt bile rise in his throat and swallowed hard. Dimly he heard the horror in Boromir's voice as he called for them.
"No!" Frodo was yelling now—picking up speed as he went after them, heedless of the danger. Sam lunged at him and yanked him down, clamping a hand over his mouth. "I'm so sorry, Mr. Frodo, so sorry, but you've got to be quiet now, you hear-or they'll have done all that for nothing." He flinched as an orc fell dead on the ground next to him. Strider had only barely managed to catch it before it had reached them, and it wasn't fair to make his job harder.
The fight became even more frenzied around them as the ring of orcs drew ever tighter around their prey. Huddled in the grasses, the two hobbits were overlooked by the orcs, but Aragorn must have known they were still there.
"Run! Due South! Follow the—" his words were drowned out by the clash of swords "—cross it and keep running until a marchwarden stops you."
"And be silent for pity's sake!"
The two men were struggling to keep up the defense. It wouldn't be long now, until they lost. Sam's throat tightened with grief. "Mr. Frodo, we have to go!" Sam was frantic. He was no coward, but this was no battle for a hobbit. His duty was to Frodo. But Frodo wouldn't—or couldn't—move, so they stayed crouched down, ready to spring up at any second. Sam couldn't see much, but he thought he could hear Merry shouting a bunch of silly nonsense. Sam's face felt hot with the dizzying emotions. They were nearly surrounded. He looked in all directions, but everywhere he looked, shadows loomed. And then Mr. Frodo was tugging his arm. He'd finally unfrozen.
Sheathing their swords, they dragged themselves along the ground with their arms. Sam had no idea of their direction as they turned this way and that to avoid being trampled. He hissed in pain and bit off a yelp as a booted foot descended on his fingers, but then it was gone. Sam remained frozen a few seconds more, but the orc hadn't even noticed him. Fingers smarting, Sam started moving again. His coat sleeves would need a good patching after this, and he'd lost track of Mr. Frodo somewhere along the way. Coming to the edge of the stream, he stayed huddled in the grasses next to it and tried to catch his breath.
A hand landed on his shoulder and he jumped, his hand going to his sword, though he knew it would be too late to draw it. It was only Mr. Frodo. Sam deflated in relief.
"Sorry, Mr. Frodo," he stammered, "I'm a bit jumpy."
"No harm done." They stayed crouched together, expecting that at any moment they would be discovered. The battle continued nearby, but to his surprise, it seemed the orcs had forgotten them. He desperately wanted to see what was happening—he wasn't even sure if Aragorn or Boromir knew they had not gone far. In the darkness, all he could make out was a swath of shadows several paces away—so very close to them. He could hear grunts and cries and the frenzied clash of swords as easily as if he was in the fight himself. He was quite frightened for them. There was a sound of pain and then he thought he heard Aragorn yelling.
Suddenly, he was glad he couldn't see. He didn't want to watch them die. A sob rose in his chest, but he refused to let it escape. Frodo gave his shoulder a squeeze. There were no words.
They waited and waited until the pounding of footsteps faded and the grasses could again be heard shivering in the breeze. At last they peeked out, expecting a shadow to instantly accost them, but nothing moved. They crept out to the trampled circle of grasses, not wanting to know, but compelled to look. The orcs had left for a reason. In the dark, they searched as best they could.
Boromir's shield lay right in the center of a ring of trampled grass and dead orcs, its embellishments glinting in the moonlight. Sam stopped, dread filling him. The shield itself didn't appear to be badly damaged—but why had Boromir left it behind? They searched the grasses nearby carefully, finding many an orc corpse and a few discarded packs, but they found no trace of the men.
"He's not here—neither of them are." Sam's face burst into a smile and he let out a quiet whoop.
"I can't believe they've made it through," Frodo murmured.
"And if they've made it to the trees, surely they'll be able to hold their own now!"
"And perhaps Merry and Pippin will also." Frodo's words were quiet, but hopeful.
With a grimace, Sam picked his way back over to where the shield lay. The smell was already unbearable, and he suspected it would only worsen. It seemed wrong to leave it there. Frodo joined him and together they dragged the heavy shield a few feet away from the circle of dead orcs and piled up the packs next to it.
For several moments they said nothing. "Sam?"
"Thank you…for tackling me back there."
"They'll be okay, Mr. Frodo, just you wait. I suppose we hobbits are too often underestimated—but let's not underestimate ourselves."
They walked slowly back to the water's edge. "Cross the Silverlode…" Sam muttered to himself. "I think that was what he said…and something about a marchwarden, whatever that was." He couldn't quite remember what Strider had said.
"The stream is deeper here than it was before."
Sam eyed the swift stream with some trepidation, "It looks faster, too. More river-like, if you ask me."
"I think you're right, Sam, and I'll bet it will become even deeper the farther South we delay. Perhaps we ought to cross here."
Sam tried to put on a brave face, "Aye, better now than when it's deeper than a hobbit—my old gaffer would be horrified by all our adventures, you know."
"I'm horrified by all our adventures," Frodo returned wryly.
"Leave the pack with the others," Frodo urged softly, "Perhaps we can return for it when we go back for Legolas."
"Not a chance," Sam protested, "If anything else happens, we'll have no supplies."
"No pots, you mean."
"Well…" Sam hedged a bit peevishly, "I reckon you may be right, but I'd rather not part with them if it's all the same to you."
Frodo rolled his eyes, or at least Sam thought he did, it was too dark to see his face very clearly, and stepped into the stream without further comment. There was nothing for it—Sam had to follow.
The stream was icy cold and the current swifter than he expected as it pulled at his feet. By midstream, he felt some regret over his stubborn refusal to part with his pack. Its contents were surely soaked, and the weight of it threatened to pull him backward.
"Come on!" The pull of Frodo's hand—Sam didn't even remember grabbing it—propelled him forward, and after a few more steps they came out on the opposite bank safely and without incident, to Sam's eternal relief.
The night wind blew chill up the valley to meet them. Before them a wide grey shadow loomed, and they heard an endless rustle of leaves like poplars in the breeze. Sam shivered in his wet clothes as he and Frodo began making their way into the forest. The grasses were much the same on this side of the Silverlode—fading away as the trees became less sparse and the forest deepened. Fire burned in Sam's shoulders from the weight of the wet pack as he trudged behind Frodo, lamenting that there would be no fire to dry off by this night. The great silver trunks grew numerous and thick, and if it weren't for the river, Sam knew they would have begun to wander aimlessly.
"There!" Frodo stopped so suddenly that Sam almost ran into him. It took a moment for Sam to realize he was pointing to a tree.
It seemed to stand out a little ways from the rest of the forest, a bent and gnarled silhouette against the strange trees of the Golden Wood. With a certainty he could not explain, Sam knew it was older than those trees. But was it friendly? He chuckled a bit at his thoughts. He'd been spending too much time amongst the elves, he supposed, for it was a very unhobbit-like thought. Frodo spotted a low hanging branch, and they scrambled up it—not far, but high enough that he hoped they wouldn't be spotted. Mr. Legolas would have been so proud.
For a long while, it was quiet. The sickle Moon was gleaming dimly among the leaves. The wind was still. A little way off he heard a harsh laugh and the tread of many feet on the ground. There was a ring of metal. The sounds died slowly away, and seemed to go southward, on into the wood. Sam wondered if that was the orcs that had followed Pippin and Merry into the forest, or if it was those Strider and Boromir had fought. For at least an hour, they stayed silent, their coats drying on the branches beside them. It was winter, and unlike the gold and silver trees, their shorter refuge was bare, and they felt vulnerable and exposed.
Far off sounds of battle and orc movements could be heard off and on, but eventually the forest fell silent once more. Neither hobbit felt safe enough to climb down. Frodo drew out Sting from time to time. Sometimes it was dark, and sometimes it flashed and glittered like a blue flame; and then slowly faded again and grew dull. Sam wondered what this meant about the orcs' direction.
Sam and Frodo sat quietly for a long time, listening for any sound from wood or plain.
Sam woke with a start. "What is it?" His words were slurred from sleep, and the crick in his neck made it hard to look over at Frodo. Falling asleep, even unintentionally, in the tree had been a very bad idea. His head throbbed a bit, but at least it wasn't as bad as it had been after Moria, and it seemed every muscle in his body had stiffened in the short time he'd been asleep. "What time is it? How long was I out?"
Frodo smiled ruefully in the moonlight, "You weren't the only one who drifted off, Sam. Something woke me, but I'm not sure what I heard." His voice was low and hushed.
The night was even colder now, and Sam was grateful to find that his trousers were only a bit damp. He looked uneasily down into the dark forest. "I reckon we've stayed here long enough. Best be moving on now." But neither hobbit made any move to climb down. The more Sam went over events in his mind, the more he was beginning to think that in the heat of things, they'd gotten Strider's instructions wrong. He was certain that crossing the Silverlode had been a safer choice than staying on the same side as all those orcs, but he wasn't sure now that they had been supposed to cross it at all.
Frodo seemed to read his mind. "Fine adventurers we are, Sam. We've gotten lost."
The last cobwebs of sleep vanished as Sam tried to think on their location. "Well, not lost, exactly, Mr. Frodo. The Silverlode runs south, but now that I've thought about it, I think we've missed something in Mr. Strider's instructions. I think we're on the wrong side."
"Then we've reached the same conclusion, but don't forget, Sam, I was the one that led you across the river."
After they'd climbed down and gone a few paces, Sam noticed. There were no more sounds. Even the leaves were silent. Sam shivered, and this time not from his still-damp clothes. The hairs stood up on the back of his neck and the feeling of immediate danger grew stronger. Sam was almost certain that he could hear stealthy movements. Frodo heard it too, Sam thought. His hand always strayed to It when he was worried. Sam thought Sting would be more helpful.
"I hope that the Orcs want nothing else to do with us—with the Ring, I mean."
Frodo did not answer. He looked at Sting, and the blade was dull. "Whatever is following us, I don't think it's an orc."
Sam gave a great sigh of relief.
His relief was cut short as Frodo continued, reminding him worriedly, "Sauron has other servants."
Sam tamped down his alarm, straining with his ears, but try as he might, he heard only an unnerving silence—like even the crickets were waiting for something to happen. The movements did not come again.
They continued on, which was really all they could do unless they decided to brave the river again. Lost and safe was better than found and surrounded by orcs. He struggled to remember the maps Frodo had shown him before they left. He could be mistaken, but he thought Lothlórien lay on this side of the River, though perhaps they would not be approaching it the way Strider had intended. After a while, Sam thoughts were interrupted. He could hear the sound clearly this time—the quick patter of feet. He turned swiftly. There were two tiny gleams of light behind, or for a moment he thought he saw them, but at once they slipped aside and vanished.
"Do you know what it is?" asked Sam.
"Not for sure," answered Frodo. "I thought I heard feet, and I thought I saw a light—like eyes. I have thought so often, since we first entered Moria."
Sam shuddered at the mention of that awful place, "Well, I hope it's friendly since it's not harmed us thus far." He did not say that he thought whatever it was was more likely biding its time. If Frodo was right and it had followed them all the way through the mines, it had waited until they were alone to reveal itself. If Frodo had any clue to the creature's identity, he was keeping his own council. Sam's hand strayed to the hilt of his sword, but he forced himself to keep putting one foot in front of the other. He hoped there would be no confrontation, but he would be ready if it came to that.
It wasn't elves, surely; for the woodland folk were altogether noiseless in their movements. Then he heard faintly a sound like sniffing; and something seemed to be scabbling on the bark of a nearby tree-trunk. Sam held his breath, but nothing else could be heard over his own footsteps. Whatever was going to happen would happen soon. Frodo had stopped.
Something was now climbing slowly in a tree near them, and its breath came like a soft hissing through closed teeth. Then he saw it. Two pale eyes. They stopped and gazed downward unwinking. Sam scarcely had time to cry out a warning before the eyes blinked and a pale blur shot straight at him.
Whatever the creature was, it landed right on his shoulders, knocking Sam to the ground, his pack causing his back to arch painfully around the pots he'd refused to leave behind. A rather serpentine voice said from right by his ear, "Stupid hobbitses alone in the woods."
Sam tried to shove it away, but whatever it was, the creature was wild and wiry. All of Sam's strength was focused on keeping it at arm's length. It was like bathing a cat-hissing and claws and teeth, but Sam managed to land a punch here and there.
"Get off of him!" Frodo cried, and out of the corner of his eye, Sam could see Frodo trying to find an opening to help.
Above him, he could see a pale face, and luminous blue eyes—and teeth. He gulped. Another punch caught the creature in the shoulder, but still it held on, hardly pausing in its four legged assault. "Must kill fat hobbit, precious!"
"Why me?!" Sam yelped in protest, his arms shaking with the effort of holding the creature away.
"We wants the precious, and fat hobbit gets in our way." Spittle flew in Sam's eyes and he blinked furiously. The next instant his attacker grew still. Sam cracked open an eyelid and saw immediately why. Frodo had the creature by its sparse and scraggly hair, Sting at its throat.
"You forgot about one thing, Gollum," Frodo declared breathlessly. Sam gasped at the name and looked with revulsion. Why, he wasn't any bigger than a hobbit, just wiry—and mostly naked…and almost bald. Sam didn't think he'd ever met a bald hobbit. He shook himself. His mind needed to attend to the matter at hand. "I have Sting. I don't wish you dead, but I can't let you have the Ring."
Sam lay still under the sad creature, not a little unnerved by the sight of Frodo holding Sting at its throat. "What are we going to do with him-I knew we'd need rope."
"Well, we can't let him go, either."
"Please, don't kill us." The creature was whining now.
Sam stared. The thought hadn't crossed his mind, not in cold blood, anyway. But the look on Frodo's face—he'd never seen it before, and in that moment he knew Frodo could kill Gollum. Oh, he'd feel horrible afterward when his own thoughts returned, but the pitiful creature would still be dead. Blasted Ring.
"Don't, Mr. Frodo," he pleaded. "Not like this." As if a curtain had been parted in his mind, Frodo staggered backward in self-loathing.
Sam used the distraction and flipped Gollum off of him. For once being "fat hobbit" had its advantages, he thought ruefully as he sat on the squirming creature, the scratches on his neck and face smarting. He wasn't quite sure what else to do without some other way to restrain him.
"Don't hurt us! Don't let them hurt us, precious!"
"We're not going to hurt you—but we can't exactly have you attacking us when we turn our backs either, can we?"
Sam looked over to Frodo, and it seemed his gaze had softened.
"Daro*!" A voice interrupted suddenly, causing Sam to jolt with surprise. As he looked around to find the owner of the voice, a horrible pain lanced through his hand, and he let go with a yelp as Gollum scrambled out from underneath him.
"That nasty little bugger bit me! He actually bit me!" Frodo leapt to grab its ankle, but it easily wrenched away. Arrows began flying at Gollum as he fled—at least, Sam hoped that was where they were aimed-but somehow the wiry creature avoided them all and faded into the shadows. Sam didn't dare rise, and instead knelt panting next to Frodo, hands raised. Somehow, Sam was certain they'd not seen the last of Gollum, and his throbbing hand and scratched neck did not leave him with charitable thoughts. If they met again, he was going to be much more cautious—and he was determined to make sure he had some rope.
Out of the darkness, a patrol of five elves emerged across the river. A sixth dropped out of the treetops directly over them and studied them carefully, his head tilted. He was tall, with golden hair, and he held an ornate bow in his left hand. Sam's mouth dropped open. Unless he was very much mistaken, the elf had just crossed the river from the treetops. He sighed wearily—it felt like he'd seen a lifetime of things in this one night.
"Nathlo*," the elf said finally with a little bow. He turned and rattled off something to the others still across river—Sam thought he caught the word Legolas had used for hobbits, though it didn't sound exactly the same.
"I think they are speaking another dialect amongst themselves," Frodo whispered in frustration before trying again. "He greeted us in Sindarin, and whatever they are saying sounds like it should be familiar, but I can't understand a word."
"Frodo Baggins, at your service—and this is Samwise Gamgee. Uh… I eneth nîn Frodo Baggins*." He gestured to Sam. "I eneth dîn Samwise Gamgee. Telim o Shire*." Apparently even Frodo was having trouble recalling what he'd learned. His words were childlike and halting. "It keeps getting mixed up in my head," he lamented softly.
"Mae govannen, Frodo—Samwise. Im Orophin.* Marchwarden," the tall elf returned at last. The final word was said like he was forcing his mouth to make sounds they'd never made before.
So these were the marchwardens Strider had spoken about.
Frodo brightened, and he asked hopefully, "Carfol…carfol I lam nîn?"*
Orophin the Marchwarden shook his head with regret. "Ú-garfon Annúnaid."*
Frodo wilted again. "He doesn't speak Westron," he explained.
Sam had to concentrate to wipe a scowl from his face. Some of Gimli's words about elven conceit came to mind. Gildor, Legolas, and even those in Elrond's house had learned. How could one live a millennia and not study another's language?
Frodo began again haltingly, "Tiron an canad mellyn."* He fell silent for several moments, thinking hard before he continued, "Mathasser yrch."*
Sam wisely did not say that he felt Gildor had been a bit premature in praising Frodo's language abilities, but relief flooded him when he saw a glimmer of understanding—and recognition—in the tall elf's face.
"Iston*…" the elf rattled off a long sentence of unfamiliar words, though Sam thought he heard something about a brother.
"Mr. Frodo," he whispered, "They are alive. They've made it!"
"Aphado ven,"* the elf interrupted, before abruptly turning and walking away. Sam looked at him in surprise, then across the river. The other elves had already vanished into the treetops.
"I guess that means follow me," he muttered. The elf—Orophin—didn't try to interact with them any further. It seemed he recognized the futility, which irritated Sam, because Mr. Frodo did know enough to at least be polite, if they'd only be patient. What kind of elves were not patient? And shouldn't a border guard be a tad more like a welcoming committee? Sam suspected his thoughts, if shared, would offend the marchwardens, but that Legolas would have found something merry and humorous in all of this.
The elf barely slowed to accommodate the hobbits' shorter legs, and they had to sprint to keep up. He'd made no mention of Legolas, or Gimli—at least Sam thought he hadn't. He wondered why Strider had said nothing, but then revised his thoughts. These elves probably hadn't stuck around long enough for the information to be relayed. He hoped it wasn't because the man had been too injured to relay the information.
It soon became obvious to Sam that these elves were tracking the orcs that had chased them earlier. Guilt churned in his stomach. They must have fled back this way while they'd been sleeping. They retraced their steps for some time, the Silverlode at their left, before emerging once more onto the grassy plain.
Orophin stopped, "Cross here."
Sam was a bit indignant when he found himself being carried across with no warning, but in truth, he was relieved to avoid another cold dunking, and for a few moments to stop and catch his breath. He took back every uncharitable thought he'd ever had about Gandalf or Strider giving no thought to hobbit legs in their pace. They'd been much more accommodating than he'd realized.
The grasses were less shadowed now in the early hours before sunrise. Sam took in the sight with wide eyes. The grasses were blackened and trampled. Great hulking shadows lay scattered like boulders on the ground. The packs were piled and waiting where they'd left them next to Boromir's shield. After a moment, Frodo joined him quietly.
The elves were consumed with their tracking, calling their findings back and forth to each other. Frodo could not get their attention, growling in frustration, "If they would at least speak amongst themselves in Sindarin, then I wouldn't be completely lost. And if they haven't been told about Legolas, then we need to do it, but I can't get a word in edgewise."
Finally, Sam decided it was high time he took matters into his own hands and stepped in front of the leader. Orophin stumbled a bit as he was forced to stop abruptly. Sam glared at him, and the elf raised his eyebrows in curiosity and surprise.
"Lasto!* My master has something to say to you." He didn't care if the elf understood him or not.
Frodo was beside him now, and, after giving him a glance of thanks, stammered, "Geheno nîn. Penin andreth a brestannen. Penin ist… Mellon nîn te harn. I eneth dîn Legolas, o Eryn Galen."
Frodo's halting, but clear words drew the eye of all six elves, who looked at him with some alarm. Sam was a bit taken aback when Orophin placed a gentle hand on Frodo's shoulder. He was crouching now, his eyes level with Frodo's, a look of grave concern on his face.
"Henion. Mas I Thranduillion?"* So these elves knew Legolas' name—Sam wasn't sure even the entire Fellowship knew that. That meant that somehow, they knew him. He nearly sat down in relief.
"Forod. Nef hîr*," Frodo stammered, confirming that they were indeed talking about the same Legolas.
Orophin shot to his feet then and began shouting orders in his strange dialect, dispatching a messenger Southward and propelling the two hobbits toward him. Sam could have cried in relief at having others share the burden. He was certain they would take care of their own kind.
* I eneth nîn Frodo Baggins—My name is Frodo Baggins
* I eneth dîn Samwise Gamgee. Telim o Shire—He is Samwise Gamgee. We are from the Shire.
* Mae govannen, Frodo-Samwise. Im Orophin.—Well met…I am Orophin.
* Carfol I lam nîn?—Do you speak my language?
* Ú-garfon Annúnaid—I don't speak Westron.
* Tiron an canad mellyn—I'm looking for four of my friends.
* Mathasser yrch—They fought orcs.
* Iston—I know.
*Aphado ven—Follow me.
* Geheno nîn. Penin andreth a brestannen. Penin ist… Mellon nîn te harn. I eneth dîn Legolas, o Eryn Galen—I'm sorry. I'm impatient and troubled. I don't know…my friend is wounded. His name is Legolas, of Eryn Galen (Mirkwood).
* Henion. Mas I Thranduillion?—I understand. Where is the son of Thranduil?
* Forod. Nef hîr—North. Beside the river.
End note: I've had a couple requests for more of Gimli's thoughts, and I apologize for making you wait so long. Don't worry, we're finally back to him in the next chapter.
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