Arnial rode the horse towards the orc with her blade at the ready, he had his warg turned to the side ready to take the impact of her attack.
But at the last second she pulled her mount to the side rushing past the orc and warg who was taken unaware.
She knew that after he had blown the horn that his pack of warg riders would be upon them soon and she would be outnumbered by them. If she could lose them in the trees of her people then she would stand a chance of outrunning them completely. She heard the howls of the wargs as they regrouoped and began the hunt. As she rode further into the woods she heard something that made her blood run cold.
Further ahead of her in the trees she could hear the howls of a second warg pack, the howls continued as they began to fan out circling her in the trees. They were still to far off from her to see in the darkness but she knew they had an idea of where she was in the woods. As Arnial turned the horse to try retracing her path a bit she could see a faint glow where she had been.
At first she believed them to be torches that they had lit to making searching for her easier but as she watched the glow began to spread not become seperate orbs of light.
They had set the forest on fire around her. As she turned she began to search to see how far they had pressed the flames and only one path lay before her with no glow of fire, the second warg pack.
Arnial knew of only one other way she might could avoid them and turned the horse back down the path, there was a river she hoped she could wade across to the other side providing the fire was this side of the water.
With the rains that had passed through their lands recently she knew the river would be flowing heavily she just hoped the current wasn't to strong for her horse. The further she went the thicker the smoke became and her mount began to fight all progress closer to the flames.
It came to a point where the horse was screaming it's protest and trying to take lead to run towards the warg packs she could hear tracking them further into the flames. Arnial slung herself out of the saddle and turned the reins loose letting her mount bolt back the way they had come.
She could only hope the scent of the horse backtracking would delay the orcs from finding her till she could get safely across the river. She turned back towards the river, one hand resting on her sword and the other pressing a cloth over her nose so she could breath somewhat clean air. She pressed on getting to the riverbank.
As she got out of the treeline her heart sank, the flames were on both side and the river was raging. Even with a mount to aid her she would be swept by the current and pulled under. The heat from the flames was becoming greater as it pressed in around her and in the bronzed armor she was becoming overheated.
She began to cough at the smoke starting to thicken around her, it burned her eyes making them water to where it was hard to see beyond a blurr. Arnial walked towards the waters edge planning to dip the cloth into the water to tie around her face. As she approached she heard one of the trees make a loud pop and burning it began to topple downwards crashing part way across the river it's trunk still partly on fire. As she coughed and batted the sparks from the fallen tree away from her she became aware of a growling behind her that was growing louder by the second.
She knew the warg packs had found her.
******* Bilbo rode alongside Thorin, Dwalin, Kili, Balin, and the elves leaving Erebor in search of the elf woman that had quietly slipped out of Erebor. He knew that he had encouraged Thorin to rethink his decision and was glad the dwarf had but as they left the gates he couldn't help but wish he had done so sooner.
As they rode out over the ancient stone bridge he could see the two kings draw their mounts up short halfway across the bridge.
"Thranduil is that the Mirkwood?" Thorin demanded pointing towards billowing smoke and orange flames peeing over the treetops. "It is." Thranduil gasped eyes going wide. "We need to send word." "I will have the ravens sent to your people and to the city of Dale." Balin assured him. "You must go, your people need you." Balin turned his mount back towards Erebor and spurred his horse forward into the gates while the others spurred their mounts across the bridge.
"Father if Arnial has seen the blaze then that is where she will be." Legolas called over the wind sweeping by them. Thranduil nodded his head when Thorin glanced back to him to confirm that would be the case. Thorin turned his horse towards the burning forest in a more direct path with the others dwarves racing behind him, Biblo hesitated whenn he saw the elves slow their paces. "I will go with Oakenshield return to the city and get the others to fight the fires." Legolas yelled to his father who simply nodded his head turning back to the main path towards the Mirkwood.
Bilbo followed behind Legolas whose eyes shifted to him briefly. He saw the elf prince's frown deepen across his forehead where he could see the worry written over his face. Bilbo sighed when he saw Legolas turn to look for the hobbit. "It will be hot in that forest hobbit." Legolas called as they caught up to Thorin's company at the edge of the burning patch of Mirkwood. "No hotter than dragon fire I suppose." Bilbo assured him.
"Thorin is there a clear place to enter?" "Not one that we have been able to find." Thorin called back. They were circling the horses up and down the burning treeline searching for a safer way to enter to search for Arnial when the black stallion burst from a portion of burning brush.
The horse was letting out it's terrified screams as it bust through, breathing heavy it's body soaked with white foamy sweat. Dwalin had hold of the horses reins before the others had gotten themselves turned back around to see what the commotion was from that end. "That is Arnial's horse!" Legolas called looking towards the fire. Thorin looked to the horse and then back to the flames his eyes squinting against the smoke trying to see if he could see the elf woman.
Bilbo was got off of his horse walking towards where Thorin was standing his hands slowly gripping the hilt of his sword. He saw the dwarf slowly pull the blade a few inches from the sheath a blue shine coming off of the sword, that could only mean orcs were in the area. As they all turned drawing their weapons a warg leapt from the flames where the horse had burst through the brush, its rider swinging a sword with a loud shriek.
It's scream set all of the dwarves' horses to running with high pitched neighs of terror. Bilbo had been one of the party to take back the mountain when they had faced Smaug to retake the mountain and he had been part of the battle of five armies. Even so he was unable to properly weild his sword Sting. He had picked up a few tricks from the company when he had traveled with them but had little time to practice back in the Shire. The orc and warg swung back around to be met by the onslaught of arrows and sword blades from the yelling dwarves defending themselves.
The orc was easily dispatched and the warg followed shortly behind them. Turning back to the fire Thorin gasped "Orcs have started the blaze. Arnial is in there somewhere." Without another word the King under the Mountain rushed into the blaze pulling his cloak tight around his mouth to fight off the smoke. "Thorin!" the others yelled scrambling to catch up with the king. They rushed towards the opening but the sound of cracking limbs brought them up short as they fell over the opening.
"There is no following him." Legolas gasped "It will be to dangerous. The best way to prevent anymore death is to get to the elves to help put out the fire.
They will need to be warned about the orcs in the fire as well." They glanced at him worriedly before agreeing to go back with him to help with the fire brigade. ******* Arnial was standing on the edge of the riverbank with a few wargs and orcs fallen at her feet. She was breathing heavily and having trouble even with that due to the smoke.
Her head felt like it was swimming as she stumbled back going into calf deep water as the orcs began to circle the wargs a little closer each time. It was becoming hard to tell how many there really were the smoke was so thick and her eyes watered so badly. But she was certain she could still see the one with no ear, the one that had blown the horn to bring the packs after her. "Nauk-membas kulknej avake lav-li alive!" the one eared orc yelled.
Translation: Remember we take her alive! The other orc laughed or grunted in agreement moving their wargs forward, she knew that she would not be able to fend them all off. Stumbling back further into the water she heard one let out a snarl as he lunged his beast forward arm reaching out to grab at her. Arnial stumbled back swinging her sword her head swimming as she let out a string of loud coughs. The sword barely caught in the orc's flesh and it was only enough to anger him. She saw his arm come at her and she fell backwards trying to get away crashing back into the water.
Even at waist deep the current tried to sweep her away but as the smoke got to her her vision began to cloud. Just let me drown, Arnial thought as she started to fall back into the water. She felt the cold scaly skinned hand of the orc close around her wrist as she began to fade. ******* His pack rider began to pull the she elf from the water yanking her by the arm ready to drag her towards the leader.
The one eared orc smiled his eyes narrowing as he watched the other drag the woman towards him. She would be his prize first he was the warg leader that had been in charge of finding the new elf woman for the horde. The other grabbed around her back and began to lift her up towards him and he extended his arms eagerly with a sharp toothed grin. She would be his and his alone if he had it his way. As she was laid in the cradle of his arms a yell filled the air as a dwarf burst into the clearing his glowing sword carving into an unattentive warg riders spine severing it cleanly then sending the beast itself following it's master.
He let out a yell pointing to the dwarf calling out the attack orders, he pulled the she elf tight against his chest anger filling his eyes. he would not release his prize to the dwarf. "Arnial!" the dwarf yelled slicing his sword down on another rider with a growl. The one eared orc turned his warg away from his pack running it up the riverbank for a few yards to the fallen tree that was in the river.
He left the warg and walked out over the trunk that lay out in the water. When he looked back at the dwarf he could see him fighting his way towards them eyes like a storm brewing from Mordor.
The orc hoped that he dwarf would follow him out onto the fallen log to attempt to rescue the she elf, he had a place to set the woman that he knew would be safe enough for her to lay till he reclaimed her.
He would then end the dwarf, he would disarm him then drown him beneath the currents of the river. "Nauk-avurn avo avhe maukaver, jiak liwo finiukh avhe vok." he snarled to the remainder of his riders.
Translation: Return to the master, I will finish the dwarf. The orc laid her on the furtherest branches out in the water, she would get wet but unless she started to thrash she wouldn't be in danger of going under.
Then he turned to look back at the dwarf who had set his eyes on him now. ******* Thorin was surprised when the orc had sent his pack away but he turned his eyes to focus on the leader, he didn't have time to to worry over the others. He could see that Arnial had been placed down on the tree branches where the river water was washing over her slowly, he could see the water was bringing her to a slight awareness.
He knew she would not be able to aid herself very well if the orc turned on her again. Thorin remembered the last time he had done battle from a fallen tree but unlike that night on the cliff edge he was on even footing with the orc, it would still be just a perilous.
Thorin stepped onto the tree holding his sword at the ready for the battle his eyes locked with the orc. Thorin smiled confidently as the orc let out a loud snarl taking a slow measured step towards him. His eyes were locked to the orc that he saw the subtle flicker of its eyes and knew when the orc swung its sword that it would come from the left in an arc. He blocked it easily and made his own lower swing trying to cut for the gut but the orc was also skilled in combat.
They met sword again and again one gaining ground on the tree only to lose it in the next second to the other. Thorin had been so focused on the battle that he only noticed when Arnial stood shakily behind the orc. He was shocked and let his guard down briefly causing the orc to charge knocking his defenses aside to grip his throat.
Arnial let out a yell and charged the orc who looked over his head in time to take a dagger to the side of it's head.
Thorin saw it begin to thrash its free arm at her with a shriek, a dagger was not strong enough to pierce the skull of orcs but it had flayed the skin back.
"I'll have your other ear orc." Arnial hissed pulling the dagger back again. The orc snarled and lifted Thorin from his feet slamming him bodily into the she elf causing her to lose her balance falling backwards to the water. She fell back across the tree almost rolling into the water. Thorin regained himself bringing his sword up to slice into the orc's arm causing it to toss him to the side with a snarl. The dwarf was back on hs feet in record time as the orc came at him in a mad fit of rage, the flap of loose skin hanging from it skull.
He saw Arnial stand and charge the orc on silent feet but he saw the flash in the orc's eyes as they cut to the side. The orc brought his arm back quickly the hand fisted around its sword hilt connecting with her face hard knocking her head back to the side.
"Arnial!" Thorin yelled as she began to fall limply towards the water.
Thorin didn't stop to think as she toppled into the raging river, he stood and ran getting as close as he dared before leaping into the water after her. As he leapt towards the water he could hear the orc roaring in rage behind him. He hit the freezing cold water and almost let out the breath he had been holding when he jumped. The water was black as ink and cold as ice he knew he had to find her and pull her from the water quickly.
But the current was strong and as he tried to regain some sense of direction he was pulled strongly down river. When he finally reached the surface of the river he could see that he had been pulled further down river then he had thought and without the fire burning he could barely see by the moonlight. He twisted his head in the waer trying to see her hoping that she had not sank to the bottom when she had fallen, by a small chance he caught sight of a flash of her red hair ahead of him.
With a great effort that was becoming all the harder in the cold he began to force himself to swim towards her limp body. Even with the current pulling him along it was slow going and by the time he reached her he was worried he would only be saving a dead body.
When he reached her he grabbed her around the waist with one arm and trying to keep them both afloat with the other. He had to get them to shore he knew or he would become to cold to save either of them, already he could feel it setting into his bones. Thorin picked a shoreline and began to make his slow way towards the darkened shore. He vaguely worried that he would come across orcs and he knew that in the struggle against the water he had lost his sword.
It didn't matter to stay in the water was to die anyway. It took a lot of struggling but Thorin reached the shore and managed to pull the two of them up away from the water.
He had a harder time dragging her to shore due to the armor and decided once they were far enough out of the water to pull the heavier pieces off of her. When he had the armor off he could see she was in light clothing beneath to make moving easier.
She was already shaking violently from the chill and as he leaned down to examine her, he could see that her eyes were starting to flutter open. "Arnial can you hear me?" he whispered grabbing her under her arms to pull her further from the water. "Thorin?" she mumbled groggily. "I'm here." he assured her. "You fell in the river we are away from the orc.
I can't carry you very far, do you think if I helped you that you could walk?" Arnial began to move slowly in his grasp and he gently released his grip under her arms. She slowly climbed to her shaking legs and Thorin slowly put his arm around her waist letting her lean against him. "Do you know where we are in the Mirkwood?" he asked softly. She looked around them and shook her head slowly saying "No it's to dark right now. I'm so cold Thorin." "I know we will have to risk a fire otherwise we'll be to weak come morning to protect ourselves." "If the orcs saw it.-" she began then paused.
"What is it?" "I can't face them again tonight." "Well what do you suggest then?" Thorin asked exasperated. Arnial shuddered and pointed to a large tree ahead of them.
It's trunk was thick and it climbed high into the air above the othershe could even see a place where the branches seperated making what looked like a natural flat area big enough for them both. "It will be safe from their view orcs barely look up." she coughed a few times then continued "It will be off the ground from other predators." "You won't have a fire to warm you there." Thorin said softly "Your shaking so hard now that you'll be near frozen come morning." He saw her hesitate as she glanced down at him and could see her mouth pull a worried frown.
He could see a tired embarrassment there in her eyes. "What is it Arnial?" he asked softly as they came to the base of the tree. "I- We'll speak at the top." she sighed putting her hands to the tree. "I'll wait for you to reach the top then I'll join you." She nodded and then began to pull herself up the tree she was scaling the heights qucikly, he knew she would be to the last of her strength by the time she was done. Once she had reached the top Thorin turned from watching the woods around them and began to climb the tree as best he could with his shorter arms and legs.
When he reached the top panting a bit he looked up at Arnial freezing on the edge. She had stripped from the soaked boots and pants she had been wearing to hang them on a nearby branch to dry.
She glanced over her shoulder at him with a shy tired look to her eyes.
"Look," She began "I wouldn't suggest this but we can't have a fire tonight. If those orcs found us again they'd kill you and I would've rather drowned then be a prisoner to them. There are human rangers that have done this to survive long cold nights it should work." Thorin looked away taking a deep breath "Done what?" "Take your clothes off and put your cloak over us it's still damp but it's better then nothing." Arnial didn't wait for him to speak she began to finish removing her clothes then hanging them to dry on the branch.
He watched as she pulled her shirt off revealing her pale naked flesh to the night air causing her to shiver. She still faced away from him but he could see the curves to her breasts and the curve to a slight v of her back. He breifly imagined his hands wrapped around the curve of her hips and shook himself to dispel those thoughts. She didn't look at him or even turn back to watch him undress or hang his clothes, she simply backed up to lay in the groove of the tree.
Once he was undressed, he lay down beside her naked body pulling his cloak over them to provide some cover. He laid there a few moments when she cleared her throat softly. "You have to lay closer then that." she whispered shakily.
"You could hold me, I know I'm an elf and a bit taller but so long as we're close I don't think it matters." Thorin made a noncommital grunt and rolled closer putting his arm around her waist pulling her back to his chest.
She was still shaking even after a few minutes when he was no longer shaking. "You still cold?" he whispered against her ear already falling closer to sleep. "No." "Why are you shaking then? Just go to sleep they won't find you again." "Thank you for. saving me.
How did you know I needed help?" "I came to see you after our talk to tell you I was wrong that I shouldn't send you away. I wanted to talk and see if you would still consider being . my queen." Arnial let out a small gasp and he felt her stiffen a bit. "I would be honored." she whispered touching his hand over her stomach.
She hesitated before pulling his hand up between her breasts to place a soft kiss to his knuckles before holding it to her heart. Thorin let out a soft groan at feeling the curve of her breasts around his arm. "Goodnight my king." she sighed softly nestling into his chest. Thorin sighed and held her more tightly to him knowing that come tomorrow they would be back in the safety of Erebor.