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Half The Battle

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The sun beat down upon the western hill range of Emyn Muil mercilessly and its harsh glare found Aragorn lying on his side with his ear pressed against the rocky ground as Haedirn closely studied the trodden ground, brushing her fingers against the dirt and feeling the warm earth beneath her fingertips. Legolas and Gimli were running a few paces behind the two Rangers as they listened and waited for the siblings to tell them their next move - following the Uruk-hai who took Merry and Pippin was not going to be easy since the creatures could travel by day and at great speeds.

 

"Their pace has quickened.", Aragorn mumbled softly as he looked up at his adoptive sister. "They must have caught our scent!", he realised.

"Onónë? Where are they headed?", Aragorn called out to Haedirn who brushed the soil from her fingers and turned to the men with worry in her amethyst eyes.

 

"They're headed Northward. These tracks are cold - they have at least a day's head-start ahead of us.", Haedirn pointed in the said direction.

 

"Hurry!", Aragorn shouted down the hills as he and Haedirn and Legolas surged forward up the rocky outcrops.

 

"Come on, Gimli!", Legolas paused halfway up the hill to yell behind him at their Dwarf companion before hurrying after his fiancée and friend.

 

Gimli huffed and puffed, clearly out of breath, as he staggered up the rocky hills of Emyn Muil with his axe being used as a bit of a walking stick now. He paused to catch his breath before returning to struggle up the hills once more, trying to catch up his much faster companions.

 

"Three days and nights' pursuit. No food, no rest and no sign of our quarry but what bare rock can tell.", the Dwarf warrior grumbled in between gulps of breath as he kept pushing himself forward after his companions.

 

The four warriors hurried far beyond the boundaries of Emyn Muil and along the edge of a cliff that loomed over a trickling stream at least twenty leagues below till they reached the plains of Rohan and came to a narrow pathway surrounded by tall rocky cliff-like structures. Haedirn spotted something small twinkling on the trodden mud path and knelt down, digging it up from the flattened soil - it was a leaf brooch of Lothlórien. Aragorn came up behind the she-elf and peered over her shoulder, the Ranger taking the leaf brooch when his adoptive sister handed it to him as Legolas jogged ahead of them both.

 

"Not idly do the leaves of Lórien fall.", Aragorn looked at his sister before glancing at the brooch again, the Mirkwood Prince backtracking to look at what his fiancée had found.

 

"They may yet be alive.", Legolas said hopefully and Haedirn briefly studied the ground she had plucked the brooch from.

 

"The ground has been trodden not too long ago. We're getting closer.", a sense of hope swelled in her breast.

 

"Less than a day ahead of us. Come.", Aragorn pocketed the brooch as he, Haedirn and Legolas took off running once more.

 

Behind them, Gimli let out a shout of surprise as he stumbled clumsily on some jagged rocks and the Dwarf tumbled gracelessly onto the pathway with a terrific clatter, armour and axe and all. Legolas paused briefly to look behind him at their companion and urged him forward encouragingly.

 

"Come, Gimli! We are gaining on them!", the Mirkwood Prince's voice echoed.

 

"I'm wasted on cross-country!", Gimli shouted back loudly, panting heavily as he hurriedly jogged after his comrades who were already a good distance from him. "We dwarves are natural sprinters! Very dangerous over short distances!"

 

"You can do it, Master Gimli! You're almost there!", Haedirn shouted back in encouragement as she kept on running forward with Aragorn.

 

The four of them kept on running forward, following the Uruk-hai trail, till they came to a tall hill. They jogged on up over the crest of the hill and stood atop its surrounding boulders, looking over the vast open fields of Rohan. As her violet eyes scanned the empty lands, the she-elf wished that Tinnuroch was here with her - her beloved stallion companion would have loved these wide and boundless lands that were absolutely perfect for him to gallop across.

 

 

"Rohan, home of the Horse-lords.", Haedirn breathed in amazement as Gimli caught up with them on the hilltop, panting heavily for breath as he leaned against his axe for support.

 

"There's something strange at work here - some evil gives speed to these creatures, sets its will against us.", Aragorn furrowed his brow and Haedirn was silent for a moment, trying to feel what her brother was feeling, before she too frowned with concern when she felt this land's presence.

 

"Meleth, come. Let us scout ahead.", Legolas called to Haedirn and the two Elves ran ahead onto a large boulder some distance up ahead, the Mirkwood Prince holding his fiancée's hand to make sure that she would not slip and lose her footing.

 

"Haedirn! Legolas! What do your Elf eyes see?", Aragorn shouted from his and Gimli's position on another boulder behind them.

 

Haedirn squinted slightly against the sunlight, shielding her eyes with the hood of her cloak, and saw in the distance a large cloud of dust being stirred up northeast in the otherwise serene view of the Plains of Rohan, pointing it out to her fiancé who focused in on the retreating cloud of dust as well.

 

"The Uruks turn northeast!", Haedirn shouted back when she realised where they were heading and paled at the thought.

 

"They're taking the Hobbits to Isengard!", Legolas spoke what they were both thinking, his own cerulean eyes widening with fearful realisation.

 

"Isengard...! They're delivering the Hobbits to Saruman! But once the White Wizard finds out that Merry and Pippin do not have the Ring, he will kill them!", the very blood in Haedirn's bones ran ice cold at that thought.

 

"We must hurry after them!", Aragorn shouted and the four warriors immediately set off after the Uruk-hai again, leaping from rock to rock and dashing across the large sprawling lands of Rohan.

 

The Uruk-hai tirelessly trampled across the plains as if they had wings on their feet, but the four warriors were determined to catch up with them. Legolas and Haedirn swiftly dashed in front of the group for Elves were light-footed and swift as birds, Aragorn dashed behind them with his sword swinging at his hip and his bow and quiver full of arrows slamming against his back and Gimli brought up the rear, jogging after his three fleet-footed companions with heavy breaths.

 

"Keep breathing. That's the key. Breathe.", Gimli panted breathlessly as he pushed himself to keep up with the others in front.

 

"They run as if the very whips of their masters were behind them.", Legolas noted grimly as they continued to pursue the Uruk-hai.

 

"We can't stop now, not while they still have Merry and Pippin in their clutches. If we don't get them back, they're as good as dead.", Haedirn willed herself to keep running despite the burning in her legs, her muscles screaming for rest.

 

The two parties continued their relentless chase through the vastness of Rohan from morning through the scorching heat and merciless glare of the sun all the way through to sunset with neither the Uruk-hai nor the four warriors willing to stop once for rest or breath. Even as night fell, the four of them continued their pursuit; they did not want to stop because if they did, it only served to put more distance between the Uruk-hai and them; Haedirn silently prayed to the Valar over and over again, even begging Eru Ilúvatar Himself to grant them more strength and endurance so that they could reach the Hobbits before it was too late...