Seventh Stone


by Cassia and Siobhan

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    Legolas studied the map intently, with Aragorn standing near and looking over his shoulder. "I think we are nearly there," the elf concluded, rolling the scroll up once more. "It should be a little to the-"
    "Legolas," Aragorn stiffened. "There's something over there, through the trees," he hissed in his friend's ear.
    Legolas froze and his hand went immediately over his shoulder for his bow. A moment later he saw it too, a dark shape hidden by the trees.
    Made incredibly wary by their many misadventures to this point, the two friends split up and crept towards the unknown shape. As they got closer it took on the distinctive form of an orc, lurking behind the trees, as still as stone... but something wasn't right... Aragorn paused, squinting at it and trying to figure out what in the name of reason it was doing.
    Legolas, across the glade, suddenly rose to his feet and laughed. The orc did not move. Aragorn rose, confused and not sure what exactly they were seeing, but knowing that Legolas would not behave that way if there were danger... he hoped.
    Moving closer Aragorn saw that what they had seen was in fact a very detailed and realistically carved life-sized statue of an orc, but the depiction of the foul beast seemed to be caught in a mockingly comical moment of terror for it was permanently frozen in ungainly flight.
    Once he could see it for what it was, Aragorn couldn't help laughing either. "What in the name of reason is this? Who would make such a thing?" he chuckled as he and Legolas circled the base of it.
    "The Drúedain if I am not mistaken," Legolas let his fingers drift over the ancient statue. "They were neither human, dwarf nor elf, but a kind all their own. Hatred between their people and the orcs was fierce. They crafted statues such as these to protect their lands and territories, for whatever they put into them the orcs feared and would not wantonly pass while their owners were alive. Some of their work was said to hold magic, although we are now far from what was once their most accustomed territory."
    "I've never heard of them," Aragorn shook his head, then eyed his friend. "Or are you just making this up again?"
    Legolas shot his friend an amused glance. "Nay, Estel, the Drúedain were very real. They lived before my time though, in the days of my father and Lord Elrond, when the world was younger. It seems they have all but vanished now, yet some of their work still remains it seems."
    Moving on once more the friends came to a long, rough plain crisscrossed with deep, jagged rifts that let down into steaming fissures that randomly released brief hisses of hot vapor up into the air.
    "Pleasant sort of place," Aragorn muttered as they picked their way along and Legolas had to agree with him.
    Ahead in the distance and growing nearer they could see what looked like the ruin of a vast structure. Neither of them had to ask if the other thought that was their goal. Out here in the middle of nowhere... what else could it be?
    When they finally reached it they walked slowly around the exterior perimeter as far as they could.
    It had once been a magnificent building, but what was left of it was slowly giving in to gravity and age. The roof had crumbled into its vast interior and its proud beams lay at odd angles on the remnants of the stone walls. The air was still and the field seemed smothered in an ancient quietness that robed the area.
    Legolas walked lightly through the sparse grasses, running his fingers casually over what used to be ornate runes and pictograms carved into the stone itself.
    "I have never heard of this place." He whispered quietly and yet his soft voice was easily carried to the ranger who was peeking into the interior of the building. "Even the style of the architecture is strange to me."
    Aragorn disappeared from sight, stepping cautiously down into the sunken floor of the main hall. His boots sounded hollowly on the cracked marble flooring, the tiles had bent and warped beyond their limits as the building resettled. Here and there light streamed down from above illuminating the darkened recesses of the chamber, from cracks and crevices, unseen holes high up above. Dust filtered down, sparkling in the light.
    "Aragorn?" Legolas quickly stepped to the sunken entrance and glanced about the interior, easily spotting the man as he cleared debris from a broken, dilapidated stone table that somehow still stood in the middle of the chamber.
    "Legolas, over here." Aragorn called out quietly, unwilling to disturb the heavy silence. "Bring the map." A notch in the failing structure above lighted the table well enough to read the almost illegible writing.
    The elf quietly padded up next to the human and retrieved the scroll, laying it out across the top of the stone. The writing was still puzzling but it matched the runes on the exterior of the building.
    Aragorn leaned down and scrutinized the lay of the land on the parched paper. "This has got to be it." He traced his fingers down the edge of the Misty Mountains, tapping the building that was indicated, pressed up against the roots of the hills.
    "But where in here?" Legolas glanced around them cautiously, his bow in hand. He was not thrilled to be inside the crumbling structure.
    "Well," Aragorn turned and walked to a corner of the room, pulling a piece of fabric from under a pile of rocks, "Why don't we go explore!" He grabbed a stick from a heap of debris and wrapped the fabric around it. Crouching on the floor he removed a small flint rock and struck the blade of his elven hunting knife quickly against it. Sparks jumped from the edge of the weapon igniting the old fabric and setting it ablaze. Smiling to himself the ranger glanced at the back of the chamber. Two passages led off in opposite directions and the human headed towards the darkened hallway to their right.
    "Strider!" Legolas called after the human. He knew the man did not have a clue as to where he was going and he was not eager to follow him into the unknown darkness.
    "Come on, Legolas, it's here somewhere," the ranger's voice floated softly back to the elf.
    With a deep sigh the prince jogged after the human. It would be just like the man to pick the wrong corridor and then need help getting out of whatever mess he stumbled into. Legolas descended into the passageway after his friend. The light from Aragorn's torch could barely be seen as the human rounded a corner and moved down a set of steep stairs hewn from the mountain itself.
    Legolas' eyes easily pierced the unnatural gloom as he followed his friend. He touched the man's shoulder lightly when he caught up with him. Strider glanced quickly over his shoulder. "Does that map say anything about where in this place the seeing stone might be?"
    "If it does, I cannot read it." Legolas paused at the bottom of the steps, another sigh escaping his lips.
    "What?" Aragorn looked back from the passageway he had entered.
    "It's just that... it's another cave," Legolas muttered, his eyes huge in the dim light.
    Aragorn walked back to the elf and grabbed his elbow, starting the prince walking. "It's not a cave," he tried to reassure Legolas.
    The elf glared at the human incredulously, easily moving out of his friend's grip and pushing the man slightly away from him. "Really? You're carrying a torch. We are descending, it is dark, it is dank and it smells. It's a cave."
    "It's a passageway," Aragorn corrected as he moved cautiously forward.
    "In a cave," Legolas growled quietly.
    "No, it's a hallway in a collapsed building," the ranger retorted absently as he brushed thick cobwebs from their path, stepping through the hole he had made in the silvery curtain.
    "That's better?" Legolas asked sarcastically. He shuddered slightly as he stepped past the tatters of the thick web, remembering the last time they were forced to deal with spiders.
    "Legolas!" Aragorn was trying his best to ignore the elf. His curiosity had gotten the best of him and he was eager to find the palantir. He had never seen one himself and he was thoroughly enjoying the hunt.
    "It's a cave, I don't care what you say, it's a cave," Legolas muttered decidedly.
    Aragorn stopped mid-step. "It's a dead end." He held up the torch he carried, lighting the back of the tunnel. A slab-stone door stood closed in their pathway. Unused torches in wall-mounted brackets lined the last ten feet of the walkway and he began to set them on fire with the one he held so they could better see.
    The ranger moved to the back of the corridor once more and stepped up to the door, passing his torch across the front of the huge stone slab.
    "There is writing around the door." His fingers traced the odd patterns on the edge of the rock entrance. "Wait, look at this!" Aragorn set his torch in an unused holder and peered at what seemed to be a handle inset into the wall to the right of the door. The handle looked to be nothing more than a metal bar held crosswise on a circle of stone. The whole mechanism was recessed into the stone. There were writings above and below the square that the handle was set into. "Legolas, take a look at this."
    But the elf hadn't heard him.

    Legolas eyed the floor of the passageway suspiciously. The last ten feet of the corridor appeared to be stone tiles carved into the rock itself. Each one was set at an odd, irregular angle to the one next to it. When Aragorn had walked across them, his footsteps had rung oddly, almost sounding as though they were hollow. The elf crouched down near the ground and pressed his fingers into what appeared to be a very deep crack that ran the length of the hall, ending about a half a foot from the track the stone door was set in.
    Pressing his ear to the ground, Legolas rapped his knuckles lightly against the stone. It sounded thick enough, but there was a gnawing unease in the back of his mind. He glanced at the writings on the door, his eyes landing lastly on Aragorn.
    "What the heck?" Aragorn muttered. He reached into the alcove, grasped the handle and turned it right. Nothing happened. Quickly he reversed the motion, pushing it left and it gave way easily, sliding beneath his weight.
    "Aragorn! NO!" Legolas jumped to his feet and rushed forward.
    "Look, its turning!" Aragorn glanced at his friend. The smile on his face faded as a loud, harsh sound assaulted their ears. He tried to pull his hand away from the nitch in the rock but two metal grates slammed together, trapping his wrist and pinning his arm in place. He cried out, startled by the trap as it sprung. In the middle of the grates, where they met, each had a semi-circle carved out of it. When they slammed shut the halves had created a perfect circle around Aragorn's wrist that he could not escape from.
    "Legolas." The human pulled desperately at his arm, twisting and jerking against the newly formed bonds, trying to free himself. "Help me. Get me out of here. I'm stuck."
    A deep rumble in the earth beneath them caused both human and elf to stop. Legolas glanced back down the passage they had come from as a keening howl pierced the eerie half gloom.
    "Orcs!" Legolas whipped his bow off his back and notched it, moving to stand in the middle of the hall, blocking Aragorn from their advance. The prince wondered where they had come from, for he had seen no signs thus far that this structure was an orc haunt.
    The screeching calls of the evil beasts set the human on edge. He was vulnerable, pinned as he was, and Legolas would need help. Who knew how many there were? Frantically he wrestled with his caught hand, trying everything to get the bars to release him. Blood from the injuries he was inflicting on himself glinted dully in the firelight.
    He turned with his back to the wall, his pinned arm across his chest as he clumsily drew his sword.
    The odd grating rumble grew as the wave of orc bodies flooded the hall with darkness. They rushed headlong towards the elf and he in turn felled each one. Still they pressed in and he retreated slowly, diminishing their numbers even as they were replaced.
    The ground shook under his feet and Legolas was thrown off balance. Aragorn stumbled, turning back to the rock face and shoving his sword in its scabbard once more as he braced himself against the wall.
    Legolas fell forward, catching himself on one hand. The ground moved beneath him, the centuries-old dirt and sand that littered the floor rushed towards his fingers and fell through the crack beneath his supporting hand. In alarm he realized that the floor of the passage was splitting apart, somehow retracting into the walls on either side.
    The slight inattention was not lost on his enemy and the elf found himself shoved to the ground by the bulk of an orc. He twisted underneath the foul beast and thrust the arrow in his hand through his attacker's heart, throwing the creature off of him even as more rushed in.
    Leaping to his feet he unsheathed his elven blades and swung them in a wide arc, cleaving through the breastplate of another assailant. Spinning in a tight circle he plunged the blade into another orc's throat, and the creature fell with a strangled cry.
    Aragorn watched in horror as the ground beneath his friend tore in half and disappeared. The elf staggered to the left as the floor slid out from under him. He turned away from the attacking horde that still rushed forward, oblivious to their impending doom, and leapt for the small ledge near the stone door next to Aragorn.
    The ranger reached out with his free left hand and grabbed the elf's tunic, holding his friend against the rock face as the ground beneath them rolled and bucked. The front wave of advancing orcs fell into the ever widening shaft. The sounds of their bodies reaching the bottom of the deep, gaping pit was never heard.
    With a loud click the floor pressed seamlessly into the rock walls and the rumbling stopped. Aragorn glanced over his shoulder at the horde of orcs on the other side of the chasm. It was obvious there was no way the creatures could bridge the gap and they had no wish to fall into what seemed like a bottomless gorge. They slowly melted back into the surrounding darkness of the hallway and disappeared the way they had come.
    Aragorn and Legolas were balanced on a ledge that was barely six inches deep. For the elf it wasn't a difficult thing to do, but the human was finding it hard to maintain his footing. His fear got the better of him as he looked down into the inky blackness of the gorge that fell away behind him and he desperately struggled against his bonds.
    Legolas looked up from the chasm and noted his friend's distress. He easily stepped next to the ranger and tried to quiet him.
    "Aragorn, be still. We'll get you out of there." He touched the man on the back trying to get the ranger's attention.
    "I have to get out. They'll be back." He pulled fiercely against the metal prison. His heart was in his throat. He was trapped in the dark with orcs not far away... seeing them rush down the hallway at them like that... it had brought back memories of Moria all over again and all he knew was that he had to get free, now!
    Legolas noted the blood on the sides of the grating. He needed to stop the man's frantic attempts. Carefully, he stepped around the ranger, straddling his friend and pressing the man forward, pinning him against the rock face, giving Aragorn a few moments' sense of security.
    "Estel." He placed his face next to the human's, resting his hands on the ranger's back. "Listen to me, you are only hurting yourself further. Relax, calm down now." The softly spoken elven words had the right effect and the human slumped forward. Resting his head against the stone wall, Aragorn nodded.
    Legolas reached around the man and touched the grating, prying at it to see if it could be released. Aragorn didn't move or speak while he tried to open the metal doors.
    "I have a thought." Legolas placed his hand gently on the man's back once more. "Can you still reach the handle?"
    "Yes." Aragorn answered quietly. "Just."
    "Try to turn it back the opposite way and see if it will move."
    Aragorn did as he was told, twisting his wrist painfully inside the metal prison until the handle reset with an odd thunk. The grating released and separated, sliding back into the walls of the small alcove.
    Aragorn quickly pulled his hand out and stepped slightly aside from the niche. Legolas lightly walked around the ranger and took the man's wounded hand in his own, looking it over and quickly pulling a length of cloth from the human's knapsack to wrap the wounds with.
    "It does not feel broken." Legolas massaged the man's wrist for a moment before Strider wrapped his own fingers around his hand and more forcefully felt for broken bones.
    "No, I think you are right." He glanced over at the elf. "Thank you Legolas."
    With the handle reset, the floor began to slide back into place, rumbling and growling as the ancient, long-unused gears in the trap worked slowly. With the loud ring of stone against stone the ground sealed itself back together.
    Legolas unslung his bow and stepped forward onto the resealed tiles, his eyes searching the darkness of the passageway ahead of him for any signs of the orcs that had fled it moments ago.
    Aragorn stepped behind him. Testing his weight on the ground, he bounced slightly to see if the floor would give way beneath them.
    Legolas noted the movement and turned towards his friend, a slight grin on his face. "What are you doing?"
    "Making sure it stays," Aragorn whispered back.
    "And if it doesn't?"
    "That's not funny." He glanced back down the hall listening intently. "Lets just get out of here before they return, shall we? I don't think we'll be able to get into that room from this way. Maybe there is another entrance." The ranger smiled at his friend and gingerly stepped around the elf, his sword drawn. He grabbed the last torch on the wall on their way out and silently walked back the way they had come, Legolas trailing him with his bow drawn.
    They reached the top of the steps with no trace of the orcs that had attacked them. Aragorn looked back at Legolas, a frown on his face, "Why do you think the orcs didn't return?" he asked over his shoulder.
    There was not the time for the elf to answer as Aragorn was pulled from the passageway and drug into the main chamber of the ancient ruins, the pommel of a sword impacting with the back of his head and driving him to the stone floor.
    Legolas was caught totally by surprise. He heard Aragorn cry out and stepped forward only to have several sets of hands pull him from the darkened hallway and drag him into the dimly lighted inner chamber. The beam of a crossbow caught him alongside the head and he stumbled off balance, dropping to one knee. A vicious kick to his stomach dropped the elf to the stone floor and a booted foot flipped him over onto his back and pressed down heavily against his chest before he could respond.
    When he struggled against his attacker the bolt of a crossbow was shoved into his face and he heard a gruff voice growl, "Lay still or I'll put one through that head of yours. Understand me?"
    Legolas glared at the man that held him pinned to the floor. He angrily shook the hair out of his eyes and stilled his movements. It was then that he heard the shuffling, grunting noises of the orcs and he shifted slightly, readjusting his vision to stare in horror at the evil horde of creatures that stood to the side of the main chamber, watching intently but passively, as he and Aragorn were subdued. Now he knew why they had had no more trouble from the foul beasts. He angrily glared back up into the face of Vaeric.
    A soft groan caught the elf's attention and he watched as Aragorn was roughly jerked upright, his arms pinned behind him by another of Paxcyn's men. His captor pulled a blade from his boot and held it tightly against Aragorn's throat, thoroughly enjoying himself.
    Booted footsteps rang against the stone and the orcs shifted uneasily as Paxcyn stepped down into the hall and approached Legolas' supine form.
    "Where is the map?" He was tired of chasing these two, tired of losing them and tired of having to report to an employer continually unhappy with him. He hated the orcs and had done everything he could to dissuade Saruman from sending them out in the first place, but they had shown up and now he had to work with them. In the end he supposed they served his purpose, but he would be glad when this job was over. With a sigh he glanced at the ranger and his man that held him captive, "Don't make me repeat myself."
    At Paxcyn's slight nod Aragorn was forced roughly to the ground, bent over his knees, his hands tied tightly at the small of his back. The man guarding him raised his sword ready to smash the pommel of it against the human's head again if the elf would not comply.
    "I have it," Legolas spit the words at Paxcyn, unwilling to allow his friend to be injured any further.
    "Good." Paxcyn stepped back a pace and motioned Vaeric off of the elf. "Bind him and make him show you where it is."
    Legolas had no desire to be bound by these men. By whatever foul orders they were working with orcs and seeking a palantir, he was in no way going to allow them to take him captive. He began to wonder if they were more than just treasure hunters looking for a rich prize... the presence of the orcs seemed to bear that out. Sweeping his legs out he caught Vaeric and brought the man crashing to the ground.
    Quickly springing up, the elf slipped a blade from its sheath on his back and knelt over the human, pressing the edge of his weapon against the man's throat, using the slight moment of surprise he had been given.
    "Let the ranger go," he growled at the man who held Aragorn down.
    Paxcyn sighed, rolling his eyes and shaking his head. He walked to the large stone table and leaned against it, placing his crossbow carefully on the top of it before bending down to look eye level at the elf.
    "Listen. I don't care if you kill him." He glanced at the man guarding Aragorn, "I'll just have Dryxyn kill your friend and then I'll give you to the orcs after I get the map out of you." The man stood up and glanced at the foul creatures behind him before turning back to glance at Legolas. "Really, they won't care what shape you're in when I'm through with you. But I think you know that, don't you?"
    Paxcyn leaned back against the table and crossed his arms over his chest, watching the elf with idle disinterest.
    "Don't do it, Legolas, they can't be allowed to have it," Aragorn called out in elvish, struggling against his captor. The man standing over him brought the pommel of his sword down against the ranger's skull, splitting open the freshly healed cut he had taken from Paxcyn's stirrup earlier.
    Aragorn went limp beneath the heavy blow, slumping sideways before his aggressor grabbed a handful of his hair and pulled his head up. The ranger's eyes were half-lidded, stunned by the painful stroke. He breathed raggedly and blood flowed easily from the head wound. He had been struck thus a few too many times recently and it was taking its toll.
    "Be still, Estel. Even if they have the map they will not get the stone," Legolas replied in the grey tongue, hiding their conversation.
    "I grow tired of waiting," Paxcyn spoke quietly as he watched the two friends.
    Legolas glanced quickly at the man. "If you allow your men to injure the ranger further, I will kill this one," he pressed the blade down harder against Vaeric's throat for emphasis, "destroy the map, and I couldn't care less if there is anything left of me to let the orcs play with. Do you understand me?" He glared at Paxcyn once more.
    Paxcyn glanced at the black creatures behind him. He hated this sort of stuff. No money was worth working with orcs or elves. Both were simply impossible. It was supposed to have been a simple job. Inwardly he cursed Rigo. If only that drunken idiot hadn't run from them, no one else would have been involved. True, he honestly didn't care what happened to the ranger or his elf friend, but he could tell by the fair being's gaze that he wasn't kidding about destroying the map and killing Vaeric. Saruman had been very adamant about the retrieval of the map and he was afraid they would have little chance of retrieving the palantir without it.
    "Fine. Dryxyn, back off." Paxcyn motioned his man away from the ranger who slowly slid onto his side, trying to bite back the bile that rose in his throat. The last hit to his head had made him nauseous but he was not willing to stop fighting.
    "Legolas..." Aragorn started to protest but stopped when the elf looked at him - he had a plan, the man could see it in the deep blue eyes that watched him, begging him to trust him.
    Legolas held the ranger's gaze as he set his elven blade on the ground and moved away from Vaeric.
    Vaeric stood slowly to his feet, his face contorted in rage. When the elf looked to Paxcyn and inclined his head slightly in surrender, the angry man lashed out, punching Legolas in the side of the head and causing the prince to stumble and fall back to the ground.
    Legolas wrapped his fingers around the handle of his discarded elven knife, but Paxcyn jumped forward, stepping on the flat of the blade effectively pinning the weapon to the floor.
    "Ah ah." He glared at the elf, raising one eyebrow, "There'll be none of that."
    Turning his attention to Vaeric he shoved the man hard, causing him to stumble back towards the entrance to the main chamber. "Damn it all, Vaeric. I ought to just let the elf kill you for sport. Now go on, get out of here. Help set up the camp outside."
    Paxcyn turned back to Legolas and motioned him up, drawing his sword and indicating what he wanted with the tip of his blade.
    "Now give us the map."
    Legolas nodded and reached over his head to his quiver.
    "Hold on there," Paxcyn stopped the elf, pressing the point of the sword against the buckle on Legolas' chest that held his quiver in place on his back. "Unbuckle it, take it off and hand it to me."
    Aragorn moved slowly, the motion drawing Legolas' attention, as he painfully sat up and watched what was going on. He blinked blearily in the half-light.
    Legolas easily slipped the quiver off his back and handed it to Paxcyn. The man pulled the map out quickly and glanced over the yellowed paper, making sure it was the real thing.
    "Now sit down," he instructed. Legolas complied, seating himself next to Aragorn.
    Dryxyn walked over to the seated elf and crouched in front of him, quickly tying the elf's hands together with a length of rope. He pulled the knots tightly and jumped to his feet well out of the nimble being's reach.
    "Why don't you just kill them both and we'll be rid of them?" Dryxyn asked his chief.
    Paxcyn turned a sneer on the smaller man, "Well, Dryx, if it's true what them orcs say about this place being full of traps, I figure they'll make good bait. Better than getting ourselves dead for that stone when we have someone else that's expendable."
    Soft snickers came from the far side of the room where the orcs still gathered.
    "You think that's funny?" Paxcyn called out to the creatures. "When they're dead, you're next. So get this and hear it good. I'm leaving them in your guard tonight. You so much as look at them wrong and I'll put a bolt in you." He sheathed his sword and retrieved his strung crossbow. "And I don't care what your master says. I'll slay the whole horde of you if do anything to them or if they get away from you tonight. You understand me?" He glared at the creatures that shifted and dropped their gaze, uneasy in his presence.
    "We understand," one of them spoke up from the front of the group.
    "Good." Paxcyn turned back to his two prisoners and leaned down close. "Don't think for a moment I won't feed your carcasses to those pit-spawned monsters. You stay put, I might find you useful and prolong your life."
    With that threat made, Paxcyn left the main chamber followed by his men. The orcs watched them go and slowly spilled into the room, rounding the table and glaring at the two captives.
    "Behave," the one who had spoken moments ago growled at them.
    "Why do we have to take orders from that human slug?!" one of his subordinates protested, looking at the prisoners with hungry eyes.
    "Cause if you don't it'll be your head on the block and not his if Master hears about it!" the first one growled back. "So we take orders. For now." The creature laughed darkly and turned his evil gaze on the captives.
    Legolas stared the dark creature down before turning to Aragorn. He grabbed the man's overcoat in his bound hands and pulled them both back to rest against the thick stone cylinder that held the table aloft.
    Aragorn rested his head slowly back against the stone and closed his eyes. "This was a really good idea."
    Legolas knelt next to him and pressed the human's head forward. The ranger pulled his knees up to his chest and laid his head on them with a small sigh, his hands still bound painfully behind him.
    Gently Legolas pushed the man's hair away from the newly opened wound, trying to get a better look at the cut.
    "It doesn't look bad."
    "It feels bad."
    "I bet it does." Legolas pressed his fingers under the human's chin, forcing Aragorn to lift his head and gaze into the elf's blue eyes. "I don't think you have a concussion this time. Why don't you rest?"
    "Right." Aragorn glanced around the room to where the orcs were settling in, making small fires in groups of two or three from the debris that littered the chamber. "I don't think so."
    "Aragorn, you need your strength. I think tomorrow may be difficult if what Paxcyn says is true about this building being set with traps." Legolas glanced out and let his eyes rest on the nearest fire, the jump and weave of the flame a hypnotic distraction to their predicament. "I'll wake you and you can take watch while I rest later."
    With a nod the ranger laid his head back against the stone and closed his eyes, trying to relax. It was difficult with his hands tied painfully behind him and the soft sounds of the orcs were a constant reminder of the situation they found themselves in. A few moments later, he felt Legolas' fingers wrap in the sleeve of his overcoat, pulling him slowly closer until his head rested on the elf's shoulder.
    "Now sleep," Legolas whispered softly in the grey tongue. Aragorn simply nodded against his friend and allowed himself to finally relax.