Chapter 31

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Aragorn, Legolas & Gimli ride towards the burning carcasses. As they arrive, Raiden lands on the ground, changing into human shape & setting Miyuki on the ground. Gimli starts to go through pile & pulls out a charred belt.

Gimli: "It's one of their little belts."

Miyuki clenches her fist, suppressing the power that threatened to run out of control in reaction to her anger. Legolas bows his head & closes his eyes.

Legolas: "Hiro hyn hîdh ab wanath (May they find peace in death)."

Aragorn kicks at an orc helmet in anger. He yells as if physically injured as he falls to his knees.

Gimli: "We failed them."

Aragorn looks to the side & tracks catch his attention.

Aragorn: "A hobbit lay here & the other. They crawled."

The ranger begins to follow the tracks, Legolas, Gimli, Miyuki & Raiden behind him.

Aragorn: "Their hands were bound. Their bonds were cut."

Picking something up from the ground, Aragorn holds up a broken rope.

Aragorn: "They ran over here...& were followed. The tracks lead away from the battle! Into...Fangorn Forest."

The five look up into a very dense forest. Raiden growls quietly. He didn't like the look of the forest.

Gimli: "Fangorn! What madness drove them in there?"

Miyuki: "They were running away, dwarf. That's what."

Walking to the edge of the forest, she looks back at the four men behind her.

Miyuki: "What are you standing still for? We'll lose the trail if we delay any longer. Lets go."

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In the forest, Aragorn, Gimli, Legolas, Miyuki & Raiden are walking. Gimli tastes some liquid on a leaf, then spits it out.

Gimli: "Orc blood!"

Miyuki raises an eyebrow. The dwarf knew what orc blood tasted like? Either way, he shouldn't have done what he did. The liquid could have been poison for all they knew. Aragorn bends down, searching the forest floor for tracks. He looks up.

Aragorn: "These are strange tracks."

Gimli: "The air is so close here."

Legolas: "This forest is old. Very old. Full of memory...& anger."

Bass voices are heard from the trees. Miyuki & Raiden tense up. Gimli raises his axe.

Legolas: "The trees are speaking to each other."

Aragorn gets up, turning quickly to Gimli.

Aragorn: "Gimli!"

Gimli: "Huh?"

Aragorn: "Lower your axe."

The dwarf quickly does so & the voices cease. Miyuki looks surprised but Gimli looks even more surprised than she does.

Gimli: "Oh!"

Legolas: "They have feelings, my friend. The Elves began it: waking up the trees, teaching them to speak."

A smile crosses the elf's face as he speaks. Miyuki feels suddenly curious. Trees can talk? What kind of things did they talk about? She was about to ask Legolas if he knew when she is interrupted by Gimli.

Gimli [grumbles]: "Talking trees. What do trees have to talk about, hmm? Except the consistency of squirrel droppings."

Miyuki stifles a giggle. It was a perfectly feasible topic for trees to talk about though. Legolas suddenly stiffens, looking into the trees, alert.

Legolas: "Aragorn, nad no ennas (Something is out there)!"

Aragorn: "Man cenich (What do you see)?"

The man comes up behind the elf. Legolas' eyes dart to his right.

Legolas: "The White Wizard approaches."

Aragorn: "Do not let him speak. He will put a spell on us!"

Aragorn wraps his hand around the hilt of his sword, Gimli tightens his hold on his axe & Legolas fingers his arrow. Miyuki's hand hovers above her sword hilt whilst Raiden stands at the ready. 

Aragorn: "We must be quick."

Turning round to attack, all are blinded by a bright light emanating from the White Wizard.

Gimli: "Argh!"

Miyuki & Raiden throw up their hands, shielding their eyes from the light. Gimli's axe & Legolas' arrow are deflected & Aragorn drops his sword as it becomes hot in his grasp.

Wizard: "You are tracking the footsteps of two young hobbits."

Miyuki lowers her hands, trying to see into the light. The wizard's voice was different yet also familiar. Raiden seemed to notice it too, his expression relaxing.

Aragorn: "Where are they?"

Wizard: "They passed this way, the day before yesterday. They met someone they did not expect. Does that comfort you?"

Aragorn: "Who are you? Show yourself!"

The light dims. Standing before the group is Gandalf, dressed in white.

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