Chapter Five

Crickets chirped a soft lullaby as Aragorn kept his lonely vigil. The human raised a hand to rub at his eyes, trying to resist the heavy weight of sleep that tugged at his consciousness. He had succeeded in slowly feeding the contents of the cup to Legolas, who thanks to a very generous dose of valerian root, was sleeping quietly beside him, his head cradled in the young man's lap. The elf still shivered, and once in a while the archer would whine in pain, but overall he seemed a little better. Aragorn palmed his forehead for the umpteenth time and then pulled a blanket over the sleeping prince before shrugging on one of his own. Though Legolas remained feverish, he was cooler than before and the human hadn't the heart to make his friend sleep in the cold. Instead, he would simply monitor the fever and adjust the elf's cover as necessary.

Aragorn yawned again. His eyes were closing of their own accord now and he knew that he would not be able to fight sleep for much longer. He needed it, he knew, if he was to remain alert later, and so the human decided that he would get a little rest now whilst the situation remained relatively calm. First light would wake him anyway, and since the elf slept in such close proximity to himself, Aragorn knew that he would awake should a problem arise. He adjusted the packs he was leaning against, drew the blanket closer around his shoulders, and finally allowed himself to drift off.

The human was jolted into sharp wakefulness and immediately his heart sank. On hands and knees, Legolas was knelt beside him, losing all that remained of the medicine in his stomach. Aragorn shot up to help, pulling the elf's hair back and doing his best to comfort his friend. As soon as he touched the archer, Aragorn realised with dismay that Legolas's fever was once again soaring. A quick glance at the sky told the human that he had slept for about an hour, which made it less than two hours since Legolas had gotten the medicine - and that meant it should still be working. But as he watched the elf shake with fever and with the spasms that still assaulted his stomach, Aragorn could plainly see that for whatever reason, it was not helping any longer.

It seemed an age before Legolas sat back and scrubbed at his face before casting the human an apologetic look.

"Forgive me, Estel." His voice was hoarse and raw, and the elf winced and swallowed.

"Whatever for?" Aragorn released the flaxen gold hair and tucked it behind a pointed ear.

"Woke you up." Legolas shuddered and made a face. "Need to rinse my mouth." He tried to get up but sank back down with a soft curse. Aragorn was quick to settle him onto the bedroll, and Legolas did not protest.

"Legolas, I need to wake up if you are this ill. And I will fetch you something to rinse with - please just stay where you are." The elf nodded meekly in reply and watched the human go.

"Here, water with a little peppermint." Legolas accepted the cup gratefully and rinsed before passing it back to Aragon, who once again turned to go. "I made extra medicine before - I will go and ready another dose. And then we must cool you." Before your fever causes you to seize. Aragorn had seen it happen before with patients under Elrond's care - in fact it had once happened to Elrohir in the aftermath of a poisoned wound. Aragorn had been much younger then, barely out of boyhood, but he would never forget the sight of the dark-haired elf thrashing and twitching violently on the floor after he had fallen from the bed, his lips turning blue as the convulsions prevented him from drawing breath. Although it had eventually passed without incident and Elrohir had made a full recovery, it had left Aragorn very shaken - it was not something he wanted to see a repeat performance of with Legolas. "I will return soon."

Legolas mumbled something and curled in on himself, trying vainly to rid himself of the cold that held him in an icy grip. He knew it to be a symptom of the fever, but the knowledge alone did nothing to make it any more bearable. And so, after making sure that Aragorn's back was turned, the elf reached out and pulled his blanket over his shoulders. Just for a minute. Just to gain a little warmth.

All too soon, the archer's cover was ripped off him and he came face to face with an alarmed human.

"Estel, give it back!" he cried, making a feeble swipe at the blanket, which the young man quickly jerked out of his reach. "Cold!" Aragorn shook his head.

"No, Legolas," he said firmly, "I know you are cold, but you and I both know that it is the fever making you feel so. And you know better than to cover yourself with a high fever." The human sighed, his sternness evaporating as he saw the look on the elf's face.

"Sorry," Legolas whispered, a tear escaping his eye and running down his cheek. "Just wished to be warm. Cold. So cold. Hurts." Ai Valar. Aragorn did not need to touch his friend to see that the fever was still on the rise and that it was affecting his mind. Something needed to be done, and soon.

"Legolas, hush." Aragorn tenderly massaged the elf's shoulders for a moment, relieved when no further tears made an appearance. "I am not angry with you. I want only to help. It is alright. Here, you need to drink as much of this as you are able." He tried to get the archer to accept the medicine, but the elf shook his head miserably.

"Sick. Don't want." Aragorn sighed, cursing the stubbornness of the Eldar. He decided to try another tactic, hoping Legolas would bite. In the elf's current state, it might just work.

"Legolas, you are cold, yes? This is warm; it will help." The elf frowned, and his brows knit as his soggy brain tried to work out if he was being tricked.

"Fine," he agreed, and began to mechanically swallow as fast as he could. Aragorn's eyes widened and he reached out to slow the archer lest he make himself sick again, but then thought better of it. If Legolas could keep the medicine down for long enough, it would be far more potent than having him take in small amounts over time. He just hoped the elf would indeed be able to hold it down. Legolas soon finished and handed the empty cup back to the human, who nodded his approval. He watched the elf carefully, waiting for him to show signs of an impending bout of sickness, but for now he seemed stable.

"I will give you a moment and then we must lower this fever, my friend. It is far too high and you will feel so much better once it is lowered."

Aragorn was halfway through spongeing the elf's chest when without warning Legolas went rigid, abruptly bringing up the medicine all over himself and the human.

"Ai, Estel, I am so sorry!" Clearly distraught, the elf dropped his head into his hands. "Tried so hard not to. But too sick. Couldn't control. Forgive me. I am ashamed." Aragorn cupped the elf's chin in his hand and tipped his head so that blue eyes met grey, and the human felt his heart break at the tears that were once again present.

"Legolas, no. It is not like that - stop apologising."

"Sorry." The elf averted his gaze, raising a hand to rub at his face. Aragorn opened his mouth but shut it again, sighing.

"Let us get you cleaned up and we will simply try again. Under the tongue this time, then you cannot purge it out. I will distill a stronger dose. Be calm and let me help."

"But you. I -"

"What, this?' Aragorn held up a section of his cloak. "It is fine. My clothes remain clean - it is just this spot." It is not like you even had anything other than the medication to purge anyway, he thought sadly. "And fortunately for you, you wear only your undergarments. It really is alright, my friend - do not feel guilt over such a trivial thing. Now -" he was interrupted as Legolas let out a loud hiss and clutched his side.

"Estel, it grows worse!"

"Worse?" Aragorn felt the blood drain from his face. "Legolas, let me see. Move your hands." With a visible effort, the archer complied, exposing soft, pale skin. "Where is the pain exactly? Can you show me with two fingers?" Frowning, Legolas gestured across his navel, but then paused with a sharp intake of breath, shutting his eyes and shaking his head. His hand lowered and his fingers settled near his right hip.

"Here," he said softly. "New. Worse." He cracked his eyes open and looked searchingly at the human. "Please tell me that this means something to you."

"I am not sure yet." This time, it was Aragorn's turn to frown. "I need to touch - may I do that?"

"It is not exactly as though I have a choice." Legolas sounded defeated. "Make haste and get it over with." He shuddered as a drop of sweat rolled down his neck. Aragorn nodded.

"I need you to lie down for me first. Here, I will help you." Once he had the elf lying on his back, the human gently placed his hands over Legolas's navel. The elf stiffened at the contact and Aragorn gave him a moment to collect himself before slowly pressing down and moving towards the right hip, apologising as the archer moaned softly.

"Do you… find anything?"

"I do not yet know. It is tense; perhaps swollen - I know not why…" Absently, Aragorn released the pressure under his hands, and was not prepared for the elf's sudden cry of agony as he bolted upright and hunched over protectively. His cries of pain were coming in sobs and Aragorn anxiously tried to get his friend's attention. "Legolas? Legolas, what is it? You must tell me!"

"Mu-much worse when hand...hands moved." The elf was struggling to get his words out.

"Your pain was worsened when I moved my hands away? Legolas, that makes no sense…"

"I know not why, Estel! Ai Valar." Legolas's voice was muffled by his drawn-up knees.

Aragorn placed his hands on the elf's shoulders and Legolas tilted his tear-streaked face up to make eye contact.

"Legolas, is there anything at all that I have missed? Please try to think." Fevered though he was, Legolas did not miss the hint of desperation carried in the young man's voice. He shivered and shifted his position slightly.

"Cannot recall anything. You have seen… seen everything." Aragorn nodded again, his hands never leaving his friend's burning shoulders.

"Worsening pain on the right side, nausea and vomiting, increasing fever, and yet pain worsens on removal of pressure…" The words were muttered fast as the human mused out loud. Suddenly though, he stopped, eyes wide. Legolas felt the grip on his shoulders tighten like a vice. "Legolas! I must examine you one more time." The elf groaned loudly.

"Estel, I would really rather you did not…"

"Nay, Legolas! For once, just listen to me without protest!" Aragorn had not meant to snap at his friend, but judging by the confusion and fear on the archer's face, the words had taken effect. "Legolas, I am sorry. But this is important - I must check something."

"I know, Estel." A heavy sigh. "But that tone of voice… You are very worried about something."

Regretfully, the human nodded.

"Hopefully needlessly so. Please lie back once more." Aragorn lightly ran his hands over the pale stomach, pausing below the hip. "Think carefully now. You are absolutely certain that the pain is here?" Legolas nodded nervously in response. "Then forgive me, my friend, for I must test this one more time." Before Legolas could react, the human had pressed down firmly.

"Estel no, please! - " The elf did not get to finish what he was going to say, for Aragorn abruptly withdrew his hands, and the resulting wave of agony stole the archer's breath from his lungs. Tears sprung once more to his eyes and he was only dimly aware of Aragorn's uninjured arm as it pulled him in and held him close.

When Legolas recovered himself, he saw that the human's thumb and forefinger once again grasped the bridge of the man's nose, and the elf's chest tightened with anxiety. "Estel, what is it?" He almost dared not ask, but he had to know. In response, Aragorn merely shook his head, and Legolas pressed him again, more urgently this time. "Estel, I must know!" He gingerly rolled onto his side and stared expectantly at the young human until the man sighed heavily.

"No, Legolas. I cannot burden you. But we must make for home with haste at first light."

"No, Estel! Not before you tell me! I can bear it. Not knowing is the greater evil, truly." The archer grabbed the human's arm as the man tried to rise, and Aragorn was surprised at the strength in the elf's grip even as his arm shook. "Please. I wish to know."

The thumb and forefinger tightened and the human looked away before seating himself once more.

"I have seen this in a human that father treated once… Legolas, I think it may be side sickness." The words came out as barely a whisper.

"I do not know this sickness." Legolas's brows knit, and he let out a soft groan as a new wave of pain flared in his tortured side. "Elves do not take ill as humans do!"

"This is no ordinary illness. It is the inflammation of part of the gut."

"But how?" The elf's confusion intensified. "I do not understand, Estel…"

"Usually something becomes lodged in the gut so as to cause it. But in rare cases, blunt trauma… I can only suppose that when you fell yesterday, you landed hard enough and in such a way as to injure yourself."

"But Lord Elrond can treat it and soon I will be well! Do not worry so, Estel!" Legolas gave the human's arm a light squeeze. "Why do you not answer?" And then it dawned on the elf as he saw the tremble in his friend's hands. "The human, he did not…"

This time both arms encircled the archer, and though Aragorn said nothing, Legolas had his answer. The human was relieved that the archer did not press him, for in truth he did not trust himself to speak. Eventually, he drew away with a last squeeze of the elf's shoulders.

"You will get through this, Legolas." I will get you through this. I have to. "Will you be alright here whilst I prepare more medicine?" The elf nodded and shivered.


"Nay, I am sorry. Your fever is too high. If it reduces some then maybe." Aragorn paused and picked up a waterskin that lay nearby, then poured some of the contents into the medicine cup. "I must go now. Drink this slowly and call for me if you think you may be ill again."

"Don't say that, Estel," Legolas groaned. "Feel sick enough as it is without being reminded…"

"Ah. Sorry, my friend." Aragorn made a sympathetic grimace, helping to prop the elf into a more comfortable position and then standing. "I will not be far." An idea had just come into the human's mind, and he picked up a few extra supplies from the pack before beginning his task. Legolas would not like this; of this there was no doubt in his mind - but drastic situations called for drastic measures, and he had a plan that just might work to combat the fever and sickness. If Legolas was indeed afflicted with side sickness, he had to stop the vomiting all the more urgently. The gut could ultimately rupture, he knew, and the continued spasms would only raise the elf's risk.

Some time later, the young human returned to his friend's bedside to find the elf in a fitful sleep. The cup of water seemed a little less full and sleep was granting the archer a temporary respite from his suffering - Aragorn felt a pang of guilt at the thought of waking him. A quick check of the archer's forehead, however, and the human's mind was made up - Legolas needed the medicine and he needed it now. He gently shook the elf's shoulder. "Legolas, it is time to wake up. I have medicine that will help you." The blue eyes fluttered open, and the archer blinked owlishly up at the human, before his face blanched.

"Hurts, Estel. Feel ill."

"I know, Legolas." Aragorn kept his voice low and soothing despite his inner turmoil. "But this will help. Open your mouth and lift your tongue." The elf's eyes were slipping closed again, and Aragorn nudged him and repeated the instruction. When it was done, Legolas murmured something and made a face, swallowing a few times as his eyes almost immediately closed again.

"Hold up, Legolas. Not so fast. We are not quite done yet, I regret." Legolas grumbled, his eyes remaining closed.

"What is it?" he asked hoarsely. Ai, but his throat was on fire, and his head was pounding from the relentless vomiting.

"I need to give you a second medication… What you have just taken will act fast but will also wear off fast - it will not be strong enough on its own. But I have remembered something from my training, and I have another that will have a more sustained effect. It is my hope that together, they will allow us control over your symptoms. Only…" Aragorn paused, and Legolas opened his mouth, thinking that the human had finished speaking. When no medication came though, he squinted up at his friend.

"Why do you not give it to me?" Aragorn cleared his throat and looked down for a moment, then made eye contact, his expression grave.

"Because this one does not go in your mouth."

"What do you mean - where else would it go?" Legolas sounded tired and annoyed, but Aragorn had his attention now. By way of answer, the human held out his hand - something lay in his palm. Legolas pushed himself more upright and looked from the human's hand to his face, puzzlement clear on his features.

"I am sorry, Legolas. You will not like this, but it must be done. You cannot keep anything down in your current state."

The elf's face, already flushed with fever, turned crimson as realisation hit him, and it was his turn to break eye contact.

"Estel, no!" he stammered, "I am fine, there is no need. I -" The archer screwed his eyes shut and weakly clamped one hand to his mouth as the other cradled his side, but his body betrayed him anyway. Aragorn patiently wiped strings of bile from his companion's mouth and fingers.

"I would not ask this of you if it were not necessary, my friend. You cannot continue to vomit like this, and your fever is far too high. This will work with the other medication to help. There is a strong remedy in here for pain, too… It will only take a moment, and will not hurt. Legolas, may I?" Please do not say no. Please. I cannot bear to force this on you, but I fear I have no choice…

Legolas went silent for a long while, his fevered brain trying furiously to come up with an alternative, but finding none. Pain lanced through his gut and he wrapped his hands miserably around himself and tried to quell his shivering.

"You say it will help?" he asked softly.

"I really, really hope so." Aragorn sounded tired. Because if it does not, then I do not know what will.

"Then…" Legolas fidgeted, determined not to meet the human's gaze. His voice became so quiet that Aragorn almost had to make him repeat it. "Then I will trust your judgement. For 'tis not the first indignity that I have suffered this night, and nor shall it be the last, I expect."

"I understand, my friend. But if a momentary indignity brings relief, then it is well worth it." Legolas nodded resignedly, still looking at the ground. "I need you to lie down and roll onto your side - I will help you. I am just dropping your undergarment at the back, now bring your leg up like this - slowly, you will cause yourself pain if you move too fast. Legolas, do you need a moment?" Aragorn paused in concern, noting how the elf had stiffened. Legolas shook his head vehemently. His hands were raised to cover his face but the rosy tips of his ears betrayed his emotions. "I need you to relax or this won't work… Deep breaths. Slowly, in and out with me. Good. …And there, all done." Aragorn pulled away and gently tugged the undergarment back up. Legolas squirmed uncomfortably and peeked out from behind his fingers, face redder than before if at all possible. "Are you alright?" Legolas hesitated.

"Burns a little."

"I am sorry, but bear with it; it should pass shortly. I am going to wash my hands; I will not be long. Try not to move too much while I am gone."

"Better?" Aragorn soon returned, drying his hands on the seat of his breeches. Legolas sighed and nodded. "My dignity, not so much... Ai, this had better work. How long until I feel relief?" He tried unsteadily to wipe at the sweat that dripped down his face, and Aragon dropped down beside him and offered up the corner of a blanket. "Within half an hour, possibly sooner. It will be faster than by mouth."

"I hope you are right." Legolas shifted and rolled onto his back in order to better see his human friend. "Thank you, Estel." The elf's eyes slipped closed as his exhaustion got the better of him. "For always caring." Aragon opened his mouth to reply, but the elf's breathing had already changed as sleep took hold. Instead, he lightly smoothed a hand over the elf's heated forehead for a moment before rising and beginning the arduous task of packing up camp while trying to push through the fierce throbbing in his arm. Of all the times to have gotten himself injured…

Packing took the human longer than he had expected, and more than once he had found himself clumsily dropping things. By the time he had finished, the front of his tunic was soaked in sweat and he was ready to admit (at least to himself) that he needed something for the pain. Fortunately, they were in a glade of willows and so there would be no shortage of willow bark. Rather than use the carefully prepared ingredients in the healers' bag, the human collected fresh bark for himself, which he brewed into a tea and downed. While he waited for the effects to take hold, Aragorn checked on the elf. A touch of his forehead told the human that the archer's body temperature had begun to drop, and the young man looked to the stars in a silent thanks.

Settling down beside his friend, Aragorn closed his eyes and leaned back against their packs. Soon they would be riding hard for Imladris and he would need all the strength he could muster if he was to get them there before… No. Better to not think of that. And perhaps if he slept for a while, the fire in his arm might be quenched when he awoke. Legolas's deep, even breaths were comforting, and Aragorn synced his own breathing with that of the elf and soon dozed off despite his worry.

The first few notes of birdsong stirred Aragorn from his slumber, and the human blinked away the fog of sleep to see soft shards of a wintery dawn filtering through the willows. Time to go. Legolas still slept, albeit somewhat more restlessly than before, and Aragorn brushed a hand over the archer's forehead before getting to his feet. The fever was still present, although not dangerously so, and Legolas's next dose of medicine could wait until the horses were saddled and their belongings loaded. Aragorn set off to do just that, dragging a hand through his tousled dark hair as he went.

Mercifully, his arm felt a little better now and he was able to accomplish his task with few hitches. After a quick check of his work, the young human woke Legolas.

"Estel, be gone! I do not wish to awaken yet." Legolas squinted blearily up at Aragorn, clearly disorientated still. "Feel ill; let me sleep."

"Nay, sorry my friend, but we must leave for Imladris at once. It cannot wait." Legolas frowned for a moment at this, but then seemed to remember. He sighed and carefully eased himself up into a sitting position.

"Very well, Estel. But not before I have looked at your arm."

"What? Legolas, my arm is fine! We cannot afford to waste time on such a trivial thing." The elf stubbornly shook his head, causing himself to lurch forward with dizziness. Righting himself and looking more than a little queasy, he scowled at Aragorn, and the human saw the hint of a pout there.

"Not negotiable, Estel. We made a deal."

"Ai Valar, Legolas." Aragorn rolled his eyes and huffed. "Fine, but first you are taking your next dose of medicine."

Legolas blanched at this, looking more than a little flustered.

"Is… Is it truly necessary? I feel better than before."

"Yes. You feel better because the medicine is working, but it is important that it not be allowed to wear off."

"Just the one?" Legolas mumbled, "Under the tongue." Aragorn frowned as he considered it, and then nodded.

"Just the one," he agreed. "And we will see how you feel. And if, after that, you can drink something and hold it down, I will be satisfied." Visibly relieved, Legolas waited for Aragorn to produce the little glass bottle. After, the elf shot him an expectant look.

"Bring me the healing supplies, Estel." The human let out an exaggerated groan but got up to do the elf's bidding. The sooner they could leave, the better.

"Here - the supplies and some water." Aragorn sat down cross-legged beside the elf and held out a mug. "Drink this while you work, alright? You need it." Legolas nodded and took a tentative sip, then gestured for Aragorn to remove his shirt. Reluctantly, the human complied, trying to hide his face from the elf so that his friend would not see the obvious pain that the action wrought on him. Trying to raise his arm and pull the shirt over his head proved to be too much for the young man though, and he eventually had no choice but to allow Legolas to help.

"Estel, you are bleeding!" Legolas exclaimed in dismay upon catching sight of the bandages, and his fingers began softly to work at the dressings. "This is no good; you need to be more careful." Aragorn groaned inwardly, remembering the willow bark infusion he had drank earlier. Willow bark could thin the blood and increase bleeding, he knew, but the thought of pain relief had been so enticing that he had ignored that particular detail. Packing up camp probably had not helped either, he supposed, but it was hardly as though he could have avoided it.

"Estel, I do not like the look of this." Legolas had finished unwrapping the human's arm and his brow furrowed. The wounds looked red and inflamed, and Legolas suspected that had his own body temperature been normal, a simple touch would have revealed them to be heated. "Lean towards me for a moment, would you?" With a look of slight bemusement, Aragorn did as asked, and Legolas reached out and gently prodded the sides of the human's throat, confirming two swellings there. The young man drew back with a pained grunt, and Legolas grimaced. "Infection is setting in, Estel. It is good indeed that we are returning home. Do you feel feverish?"

"Legolas, listen to yourself! Worry about yourself, not about me!" Aragorn flinched back as Legolas spread salve over the wounds, and set his jaw against the pain. The elf murmured an apology and picked out a roll of fresh bandages from the bag.

"It is done." Legolas finished binding Aragorn's arm and passed the back of his hand over his forehead. Once he had helped the human back into his shirt, Aragorn wasted no time in putting away the supplies and then stood to shoulder their packs. Once he had loaded everything onto the horses, the human returned for his friend and crouched next to him.

"Legolas, it is time. We must ride for Imladris. Here, your leggings and a thin shirt - I do not think you should travel in anything more lest your fever increases." Once he had helped Legolas to dress, Aragorn slid his good arm behind the elf's shoulders in preparation to lift the archer, but was shrugged off.

"Nay, I can stand… I think. Take my hand and pull me up." Reluctantly, Aragorn humoured his friend, only to have the elf stumble and collapse in a heap before the human could catch him.

Legolas's stomach churned; the overwhelming mixture of pain and sickness was too much for him. He felt Aragorn grab his hair as he started to retch, curling into a ball when it was done and then letting out a miserable curse at the implications of his failure to keep down the water. The human was knelt beside him in concern, apologising for having let the elf fall.

"Not your fault," Legolas managed to croak. His throat burned with renewed intensity and his ribs ached fiercely. Aragorn sighed unhappily, running his hands through his hair in agitation. "This cannot go on."

Once the human had the elf medicated to his satisfaction, he made again to lift his friend, but was once more pushed away.

"Legolas, let me help you this time!"

"Fine," the elf whispered hoarsely. "But you'll not carry me. Rupture your stitches… Just help me stand and... support me while I walk." Legolas hung his head in shame at his weakness. "I will not be ill again; I know what to expect. Nothing left, anyway."

"Legolas, no! Be reasonable!" Aragorn could scarcely believe what he was hearing. In response, the elf fixed him with a tired look and groaned lightly in frustration.

"Estel, I do not have the strength, nor the dexterity to restitch your wounds when the stitches tear - and tear they will if you exert yourself. Let us stop wasting time and instead work together." The human wanted desperately to argue, but the angry throbbing in his arm told him that the elf was right. Very grudgingly, he had no choice but to concede.

"Slowly. And if there are any problems at all, you will tell me!" Legolas nodded wordlessly, and very carefully, Aragorn helped him to his feet. The elf's legs shook with the effort of carrying his own weight, and he clung to the human's shoulder in a white-knuckled grip - but he held firm. "Ready?" Aragorn tightened his hold around the elf's back and grasped the hand which had fisted itself in his shirt.

"Just a moment." Eyes closed, Legolas drew a long, deep breath as he summoned every ounce of his strength. Exhaling steadily and squaring his shoulders, the elf took a wobbly step forward. Immediately his head spun and his vision faded out, but this time he leaned into Aragorn and felt the human move in kind to safeguard him - refusing to let him fall. Once his senses returned, Legolas turned to his friend with a shaky smile that he hoped was at least somewhat reassuring - although judging by the concern on the young man's face, he surmised that it was in fact anything but. "Estel, I can do this." He ignored Aragorn's anxious huff and took a second step, not missing the way in which the human's hold on him tightened. Aragorn began to steer them in the direction of the gelding, only for the archer to resist. "Nay; Mithros. She is fleeter of foot and has the endurance to carry us for longer."

Eventually, the pair reached the little grey mare and with great difficulty, Aragorn managed to get Legolas into the saddle before clambering up behind him. Momentarily distracting himself from the searing pain in his arm, he glanced at the elf. Legolas looked worse - the exertion seemed to have drained him of what little strength he had had left, and the sky was growing ever lighter. If they wished to make Imladris this day, the human knew that they would need to make exceptional time indeed. And reach Imladris this day they must - Legolas could not afford to wait. With a sharp whistle to the mare, they were off. Aragorn prayed that they would make it in time.