Rating: PG -> PG-13
Warnings: [violence] [language] [het] [shounen-ai]
Pairings: Takeru/Ken & Ruki/Legolas
Notes: All the romantic pairings show up later on, and the Leguki relationship is really vague, at least until later on in the sequel to this fic, "Digital". Yup yup.
Disclaimer: ...I don't own Digimon (01, 02, Tamers or Frontier) or Lord Of The Rings! I'll give everyone and everything back when I'm done, so don't charge me with kidnaping or anything like that, please! (Besides, I'll treat them good while I've got them!) ^_~
Chapter Three: Ride
Takeru closed his eyes against the wind that whipped past him and turned his head to the side after a moment, blinking to rid his eyes of the water that was accumulating in them. The wind stung... plus, his hair was whipping into his eyes and getting in his mouth at the same time- he had to constantly spit it back out.
<Call me crazy,> he thought sarcastically; <but I think I liked it better when my hair was shorter->
Not that it would halve helped much; he was holding onto Ken so closely (so as not to fall from the horse's back) that Ken's hair was getting into his eyes and mouth. When the whole thing was over with, Takeru judged, he'd cough up a hairball the size of his fist...
"Look!" Ken shouted over the wind and the sound of the horse's hooves as they pounded on the ground. "It's them!"
Squinting against the wind, Takeru looked over Ken's shoulder. He soon spotted the white horse against the trees nearly a hundred yards away. The woman who was riding behind Frodo was crouched over her mount's neck, and as for Frodo himself... he looked small and pained, slumped in the saddle...
"Ken," Takeru called, "tell me again why we're doing this-!"
But Ken shook his head; "I... really don't know! There's just something about Frodo and these people that makes me want to help them!" He glanced back at Takeru before returning his attention to guiding the horse they had 'borrowed'. "Can't you feel it, Takeru? There's something... I can't really explain it, it's just something I feel inside!"
Takeru frowned. <Like I could felt EVIL from that damned ring... Frodo and his friends MUST have sensed it, if he was carrying it...> He pushed his mind toward other things. The ring... disturbed him, and he wasn't sure he felt comfortable voicing his concerns to his friend. Instead, he said; "I hope Patamon and Wormmon are alright!"
"I'm sure they are!" The bluenette responded; "they're with Strider-"
"But we don't know him-!"
"I know." Ken replied, nearly inaudible over the roaring wind. "But it's like with Frodo -- a feeling... I just know we can trust him..."
Takeru sighed, <he's sure damned adamant about these feelings of his... they must be pretty strong... I wonder if it has something to do with his time as the Kaiser? Maybe the Dark Spore he has inside of him makes him more susceptible to these things...>
"Hang on, were coming up on a jump-"
Tightening his grip, Takeru winced as the horse leaped over a fallen tree. The ride so far was not doing his lower back any good, and that jump jarred him all the way to his neck, knocking his forehead against Ken's back. "Ow!"
"It's not your-" the blonde broke off when a shadow to the side caught his attention; it seemed to appear from nowhere, and they were still several yards away from the white horse and it's riders so there was no way it was them. Besides, the white horse couldn't possibly cast a shadow as dark as the thing that now raced along beside them. "Ken, look-"
Ken turned his head for only a second, "yes, I see them."
"There are more..."
Takeru looked around, and his breath caught in his throat when he saw the other shadows that had emerged from the trees. He counted nine all together... riders dressed in ominous black cloaks, riding ominous black steeds.
"What the fuck are those-?!"
"I think," Ken responded, keeping his eyes in front of him; "those would be the Nazgul."
"How do you know that-?!"
"I just do."
Even as he said it, though, Takeru's mind acknowledged what Ken was saying. Strider had called them Nazgul, yes, but before that they had been called Black Riders. <And you can't get much more 'black' than this...>
The riders kept pace with them for a few seconds, and Takeru was overcome by a feeling of panic when one of them turned it's head to inspect them and the horse. But soon after, they spurred their mounts on, racing past and toward the white horse, on which Frodo was still seated along with the Elf-woman.
Takeru faced forward again and watched as they drew nearer; the woman whispered something to her horse, which picked up it's pace, practically flying along the ground. The Black Riders, however, only fell back a few feet...
The bluenette nodded and nudged their horse, and despite the fact that it was carrying two full-grown people, it managed to speed up. They swept past the Nazgul that were trailing behind and continued on, slowly catching up to the lead... the horse's gait was anything but steady; it's hooves caught on rocks and other debris on the ground, jarring both riders, and Takeru's spine felt like it was on fire.
<I never thought I'd miss WALKING this much....>
He glanced to the right -- they were keeping pace with one of the Black Riders. He glanced left -- a Nazgul on that side, too. They had already managed to struggle past three of them, but there were four others converging on the white horse in front.
Takeru watched the Elf-woman urge her horse to the side and out into an open field, probably in the hopes of outrunning the Riders once they were free of the forest. Unfortunately, the Nazgul steeds seemed to be made of tougher stuff than she had expected... or, possibly, she had known, and this was all she could do...
<They're not going to make it->
A harsh wind rushed past them and Takeru was shocked to see the Riders that they had left behind race past, catching up to the woman in a split second flat. Maneuvering around her, the Nasgul tightened their circle, cutting off any way for her but forward. One of them reached for Frodo...
<I have to->
Tightening his legs around the horse beneath him, Takeru released Ken and unslung his bow in a motion that was so fluid it was as if he had been doing it all of his life.
"Takeru!" Ken shouted, sounding panicked; <he fell off-!>
"It's alright!" Takeru called back, drawing an arrow. "I'm still here, I'm just-"
"What are you doing?!"
"Duck!" Takeru repeated, louder, and when his friend's head ducked out of the way, he pulled back on the bow string and released a single arrow. It zipped through the air, slicing through the tail of one Rider's cloak, but not connecting with flesh... or whatever... "Shit!"
"I know!" The blonde snapped; "stay down!!"
Ken wisely obeyed, shifting so that he was bent over the horse's neck and could stay that way.
Drawing another arrow, Takeru readied the bow again, and again sent an arrow flying. This one slammed into the back of one of the Nazgul, making the creature shriek. Takeru winced, wishing he could cover his ears from the scream, but instead he set a third arrow; it flew straight and imbedded itself in the hind quarters of one of the Black horses. The animal screamed shrilly, and fell back, leaving an opening in the circle.
"Got you..." Ken kicked the horse again, something he never would have even thought about prior to a few hours ago, and it slipped closer to the converging circle of Black Riders. They inched up farther -- "hey!" Ken shouted, "-jump-!"
Takeru barely had time to grab onto the bluenette before their mount leaped, clearing whatever obstacle had been in it's path, and landed on the ground again, jarring every bone in his body. <Itai! That HURT!>
He let go of Ken again, preparing to try another shot. Noticing trees, he paused for a second; they had re-entered the woods, though the trees were more lightly dispersed than before. He grimaced. Trees were going to make shooting interesting...
"I'm trying again-!"
Ken didn't respond, but Takeru knew he'd heard.
Drawing another arrow (from a seemingly endless supply) the blonde attempted a shot through the foliage. The arrow struck a tree and was deflected. <Damn it!> He quickly drew yet another, and closed one eye to aim; the Nazgul he was going for weaved in and out from the trees... in, out... in... out... in...
The arrow flew, striking the Rider's shoulder and throwing it to the side, nearly catapulting it from it's mount. It screamed at him, and struggled back upright. But another arrow joined the first, pushing it farther to the side.
Takeru ignored Ken's enthusiastic shout and simply released another arrow. The bluenette took his opportunity and maneuvered the horse between Nazgul, emerging near the white horse and the Elf-woman. Once they were alongside her, Takeru turned around as far as he could in his seat, firing three more arrows in quick succession. A few of the Riders fell back, but were catching up again before escape was possible.
<This isn't working...!>
He ignored Ken's voice, and was preparing another arrow when they suddenly burst from the trees and splashed into water. Takeru was so taken by surprise by that development that he nearly fell from the horse- it was only quick reflexes on Ken's part that saved him from the river; one of the other boy's hands snapped back, catching his tunic just as he began to teeter. He spun around and grasped his friend, taking deep breaths as he tried to calm his heart.
<Holy hell... that was close..!>
The river water splashed up on all sides for a few running steps (for the horse) and then they were clambering up onto the opposite bank. The woman, who had lead them into the river in the first place and kept beside them the whole time, spun her horse around just before she bank. Turning to face the oncoming Riders, Takeru and Ken watched the Black horses skid to a stop at the water's edge.
The Elf-woman drew a sword from her side, and her horse reared in and shallows. "If you want him-" she called to the Nazgul on the other side; "-come and claim him!"
The Riders started forward.
"Hey-!" Ken shouted, hoarsely. "Wha-"
Turning her eyes to the river beneath her, the woman whispered something, in the same language as they had heard her use before, and then looked up at the Nazgul. A roaring sound from upriver made them all turn their attention from her...
"Ah!" Takeru gasped, jumping, as a wall of water exploded from around the corner.
Before he could blink, the waves washed forward, and he could hardly believe his eyes when those same waves seemed to take on the form of wild horses... they splashed down on the Riders with the force of a brick wall, sweeping their horses from under them and pushing them down river with the power of a tsunami.
The water receded.
Both he and Ken blinked in amazement.
"Wow." Ken whispered.
Takeru nodded; "no shit."
The woman's voice brought them out of their trance, and both whirled to see her slide from her horse, dragging Frodo with her. Setting him on the ground, she brushed his hair from his eyes. "Frodo!" She said, tears streaming from her eyes. "Frodo, no! You can't go now! We're so close..."
"No, no..." Ken whispered, "no... come on..."
Takeru's heart was in his throat. <After all that, he can't DIE! He just CAN'T-!> Slinging his bow back over his shoulder, he prepared to jump off the horse. He wasn't sure just what he was planning to do, but...
The voice that spoke was yet another, and not familiar in the least.
Turning, Takeru and Ken stared as yet another Elf appeared from the forest behind them. He walked forward, knelt next to the woman, and placed a hand on Frodo's forehead. Speaking in the same language that they had heard her speak, he addressed the woman, who responded to him and then glanced at them. The other Elf followed her gaze and then picked Frodo up. Facing Takeru and Ken, where they sat on the horse, he seemed to inspect them.
"Please," he said, "follow me."
They stared at him as he walked into the trees and the woman turned to grasp her horse's reins. Finally, Ken twisted in his seat and faced Takeru. "Um," he said, "what should we do?"
Takeru considered, but his time was limited. Once the woman and her steed had vanished into the underbrush, he sighed and slid down from the horse. "I guess," he replied, reaching to help Ken down, "we follow them..."
Me: I feel the need to apologize for the shortness of this particular chapter. Gomen minna! *bows repeatedly* I'm so sorry! *clings to your legs* Please forgive me!
Takeru: *shakes his head* She's kind of pathetic, isn't she folks?
Ken: *raises an eyebrow* I have to agree....