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Leafblade

A Rude Awakening (by Leafblade, Part 5)

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A Rude Awakening

 

Leafblade growled in agony through gritted teeth. Lightning bolt shafts of white light streaked through the vision of his tightly clenched eyes. His left knee felt like it had completely come apart as Sandegast tested its stability with a few quick tugs and pulls.

“Ohhh, Mighty One,” the hobbit tsk'd while shaking his head. “You've done something here that knees were not meant for.” Faenel held him down by one shoulder, Edinellion by the other. He struck out with a hand and gripped the shoulder of the elf warden, squeezing in response to the pain arcing through his knee.

Leaf gasped for air through the pain and panted it out. “The TROLL did this, not me!” The troll had indeed done it. A troll champion judging by its size, coming late to the battle and from under the high south wall, had not been seen until it was almost at the gate.

Until then, their desperate defense of south gate had looked to have been an unlikely success. The attacking hordes had been baited into a dense spear thrust at Leafblade, Andwuld, and Edinellion in front of the gate. The ballistae atop the walls, required only to shoot a short distance, were overloaded with missiles and fired at the last moment. The vanguard of the enemy was laid low in an instant.

Leaf and the others had retreated in through the gate while Tower Guard archers thinned enemy ranks with rains of arrows. Another triple loaded ballista repositioned just inside the walls fired into the enemy as they came en masse through the arched gateway. There at the inner opening of the gateway, Edinellion had anchored the last stand that stemmed the tide. Having left their boldest skewered outside the gate and slowed in their charge by the quagmire of corpses under the arch, the remaining forces could not muster the strength to overwhelm the defenders.

A counterattack by the elven spearmen of the Hidden Guard, returning from the slaying of the drake, pushed back the enemy. The gate was won and the enemy in retreat. Then the troll came. Delayed by a brilliant diversion from Nocona's subterfuge, the lumbering beast was absent from the initial assault. The elves were caught unawares by its sudden arrival and two were slain. It fell to the Tower Guard to lure him into the sights of the ballista while it was hastily reloaded. It was there that Leafblade, whilst circling the great beast with Ed, Andwuld, and Nocona, was injured. Coming too close, a sudden backhand from the creature stunned him and lifted him from the ground. He had come to his senses some short time later a dozen paces from the creature. It lay upon the ground with the ballista bolt protruding from its torso. Leafblade lay upon the ground after an awkward fall with a knee throbbing painfully.

He was relieved, in spite of the injury, to see all the familiar faces of the Tower Guard accounted for. Relieved, that is, until Sandegast convinced everyone to hold him still while the hobbit proceeded to look at the injury.

“I have seen worse, Mighty One. You will walk again. But not anytime soon, I fear.” Sand proceeded to place a splint around the injured knee and secure it. Edinellion helped Leafblade to his feet and supported him with a shoulder as they moved back inside the walls of Thangulhad. There he saw Andwuld, his face set in concentration, seated upon the steps of the stone stair up to the wall. The mannish champion of the Blood of Numenor was having a wound to his shoulder tended to by Eldiraen. He was holding an arrow in his hand and studying the bloody tip.

Edinellion helped Leaf to a seat beside Andwuld before moving into the fortress to see how matters fared there. The sounds of battle seemed to have died and fires were being put out. It appeared the other attackers had been repelled as well.

Leafblade studied the arrow being scrutinized by Andwuld. He frowned. “And, that's an elf arrow.”

“Yes,” Eldiraen said quickly, angrily. “It is. Someone moved when they were to have been still.” Her tone left no doubt in Leaf's mind who that was. Andwuld winced while setting down the arrow as Eldiraen began bandaging the wound her own arrow had caused.

“I had to move, dear,” Andwuld explained tiredly. “They were preparing a Warband Maneuver.”

Eldiraen harrumphed in dismissal. “Warband Maneuver. Always with you it is the Warband Maneuver. We have not seen yrch enact that tactic since Fil Gashan, Andwuld.” The champion rolled his eyes, carefully, out of sight of his wife as she continued the bandaging behind him. “Atan en noldo,” Eldiraen continued in a contemptuous hiss. “The next time I tell you to stand, you stand. I am more dangerous than any foul yrch!”

Andwuld leaned forward to rise to his feet. “Daro!” Eldiraen commanded and the man let out a resigned sigh.

Le melon,” he said quietly. The motions of his wife paused for a moment and her face softened. “Le melon,” she replied quietly and finished her bandaging with considerably gentler hands.

 

“It was a good plan, Andwuld, my friend. On behalf of the Order, I thank you for the assistance,” Leaf said.

“The key was Nocona, Leaf. That troll was a monster. If not for her keeping it away from the gates that long, we'd have been in trouble.”

“You'd have found a way to deal with the troll too if necessary, And.” Leaf grimaced and caught his breath a moment as a shock of pain went through his knee again.

Andwuld looked down to the wounded leg and then glanced to make eye contact with Leaf. “I did tell you to keep moving and stay out of arm's reach.”

Leafblade groaned, “I did.”

Andwuld leaned toward Leaf a few inches, “A troll's arm length, not yours, Leaf.”

Leaf sighed.

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