Rating: PG -> PG-13

Warnings: [violence] [language] [het] [shounen-ai]

Pairings: Takeru/Ken & Ruki/Legolas

Notes: Observe! Nothing up my sleeves, or in my hat! *preforms cheap party magic trick and makes notes vanish into thin air* Voila! Thank you, thank you!

Disclaimer: I don't own Digimon or Lord Of The Rings. I'll return them when I'm done (well, most of them anyway ^_~) so don't get all mad 'n' stuff... yeah. So there. Ha! Um... yeah... ^.^;;

Chapter Thirteen: Echoes
by Senashenta

Ken was struggling, despite the fact that he was putting up a brave front and managing to keep up with the rest of them. His injury was slowing him down, and, in turn, slowing the rest of the company down. But none of them were even in the least bit willing to leave him behind. He was managing on his own, but occasionally he was in need of help and Takeru was always there to lend a shoulder and help him along.

"Are you alright?" Takeru asked as they ran.

Ken nodded, wincing; his arm still hung semi-limply at his side, making running even more difficult. "I think so."

:Are you sure?: Wormmon panted from beside him.

Ken nodded again. "Yes-" he stumbled, and Takeru caught his arm. The Child of Kindness yelped, but now with the blonde helping him, he continued to run. "Ow. I think I want to go home now-"

:Me too!: Patamon added.

"Less talk," Takeru shouted over the roar of the drums and the shrieking of the Orcs around them in the Mines; "more running!"

Now, the Mines which had been so awe-inspiring only a short time before were only a death-trap waiting to happen. There were Orcs closing in on all sides, and with nothing but pillars all around them there seemed to be nowhere to hide... the rest of the Fellowship was silent as they ran, with only the sound of their footsteps and the sound of their gasping breathing echoing through the cavernous halls of the former Dwarf City. Takeru only spoke occasionally to ask how Ken was doing, and the bluenette only spoke to answer him...

Wormmon and Patamon weren't gong by their standard, though; since their speech was silent anyway, they spoke whenever they felt the need.

:Wai!: Patamon wailed, :I don't want to be here anymore, Takeru!:

Takeru ignored his partner, concentrating on keeping both himself and Ken on their feet and running. A blur of yellow shot past him; it was moving so fast he was barely able to recognize it as Renamon. The digimon raced through the Mines ahead of them, taking great leaps and vanishing from time to time.

:What's Renamon doing?: Wormmon asked.

:Scouting ahead?:




:Good for her.:


Takeru would have told them both to shut up if he had have had the breath to spare. As it was, despite the fact that up until then his newly-acquired Elf form had given him an edge above any members of the company who weren't Elves, he was out of breath. He hadn't been out of breath since getting to Middle Earth, and it was something he could do without.

<I've been spoiled here... I guess I took advantage of being an Elf...> Beside him, Ken stumbled again and Takeru's grip tightened on the bluenette's arm. Ken hissed in pain and tensed, but Takeru could do nothing to help it. <Shit. He's hurt damn it, and I don't feel like I'm helping, exactly...> he turned to the other boy; "you okay?"

"Hm? Yeah. You don't have to worry about me."

"I do."

"I know..."

Ken almost smiled at the worry in Takeru's voice, and then winced again. Takeru frowned, but said nothing more as they kept racing through the shadows of Moria. The screaming from the Orcs was getting louder, and the vile creatures could be seen scurrying down the pillars and from cracks in the thick stone walls.

They were being surrounded.

Ahead, Gandalf skidded to a stop; the Orcs that had been seeming to seep from the walls themselves had managed to cut off their escape. The rest of the company stopped behind him, and once they were no longer running Ken pulled his arm away from Takeru to stand on his own.

The shrieking creatures flowed around them in an ugly wave; they were on all sides, and clinging to the pillars and ceiling. Takeru had never known you could be so surrounded... there were hundreds... thousands...

Next to him, Ken was shakily reaching for a dagger with his good hand. Takeru's brow furrowed worriedly. <He can't fight with his arm like that...>

"This is it." The bluenette whispered fearfully.

Takeru's hands went for his own weapons and he nodded. "I guess it is."

The Orcs stopped moving... there was no more coming... there was nowhere for any more of them to go... they stood perfectly still and quiet, ready, and all members of the Fellowship did the same... the silence was absolute and deafening... it was oppressive, how silent the Mines were at that moment...


The noise was loud, and huge; there was something frighteningly dark and sinister about it. The walls shook, and dust drifted from the pillars, crumbling from the vibrations. The Orcs jumped and tittered strangely, and Takeru -- as most of the others were doing as well -- looked around nervously.



The Orcs tittered again, a cumulative noise that swept through their ranks and was followed by a frightened shrieking; and then the creatures -- all of them, every single one -- scrambled back where they had come from. They disappeared into the walls and ceiling, and climbed the pillars, escaping in a panicked mass.


Takeru's heart was pounding along with the sound, and his breath seemed to be caught in his throat. His eyes traveled wildly through the nearby areas of the Mine. "What the hell?" He gasped, "what's going on-?"

"I don't-" Ken broke off, and his gaze turned to Gandalf; "G-Gandalf?"

The wizard was looking beyond them in the direction they had come; his eyes wide and glazed with something akin to fear and dread. "Run." He said softly and harshly, commanding, even as a harsh red light began to appear from around the last corner they had turned; "run."


"What new devilry is this-?" Boromir asked shakily.

"...the Balrog..." Gandalf's voice was soft and fear-filled, "a demon of the ancient world. This is an enemy that is beyond your skills as warriors..." he took a step back when another thump resonated in the Mines, and shouted; "Run!"

And at his shout, the yellow blur that Takeru had come to recognize as Renamon at full-tilt appeared in front of them. The digimon looked back, following Gandalf's gaze, and then her own eyes widened. Takeru could have sworn he heard her mutter "...perfect..." under her breath, but he wasn't sure...



"Come on!" Renamon called loudly, speaking to the whole of the Fellowship for the very first time; "this way!" The fox dashed quickly around a nearby corner, leaving the company to follow her. Her voice shouted back through the cavern; "quickly!"

"Renamon!" Ruki screamed, racing after her partner, "wait-!"


:Move it!: Patamon shrieked when they didn't follow Renamon right away; :go, go, go!:

"Patamon, what-?"

:Just go!:

Gandalf spun to face them, glaring, "Go!"

"Go!" Ken shoved Takeru roughly (as roughly as he could, given his injury). "Takeru, go!"


Takeru watched the strange light draw closer to the corner and nodded shakily; "y-yeah." He broke into a run, following Boromir and Legolas, who had already started to run. He dragged Ken with him, and the others weren't far behind. <Whatever a Balrog is, I don't think we want to get on it's bad side...>

"Here!" Ruki shouted from ahead of them. She had stopped at the corner Renamon had vanished around and was waiting for them to catch up; "come on!"



Boromir rounded the corner at a dead run, with Legolas only a few feet behind. Takeru reached Ruki next, with Ken at his heels and both Patamon and Wormmon right next to him; they took the corner so fast that Takeru nearly lost his balance, and the former-digimon skidded, their claws scraping against the sheer rock of the ground.

Ken yelped again when Takeru almost fell; his arm had been jerked fairly violently by that. Normally, the blonde would have taken the time to apologize but given the circumstances, he didn't want to waste time that could be used to flee... the thumping from behind them was making both his heart and stomach clench; he didn't know what a Balrog was, but....

<I don't WANT to know!>


<I REALLY don't want to know!>

"Ahh!" As he turned the corner, he barely managed to avoid slamming into Legolas; the Elf was scrambling backward... "what the hell-!" Then he realized -- the floor abruptly ended only a handful of steps away from where Legolas was standing... and the Elf was holding onto Boromir, who was teetering at the edge...


Releasing Ken, Takeru grabbed the back of Legolas's tunic and yanked. Legolas fell backward, still holding onto Boromir and dragging the man with him. Both Warrior and Elf took a few deep breaths before scrambling up.

Boromir muttered "thanks" to both Legolas and Takeru before starting down the carved-out stone staircase that wound down the side of the abyss that he had almost plunged into. Ahead, Ruki was already partway down, and Renamon was standing where the staircase ended, looking across a thin-looking rock bridge in the distance.

Legolas glanced at Takeru and simply nodded before following Boromir. The blonde said nothing as he herded Ken after the Elf, with their partners on their heels and the others not far behind.


Takeru reached the bottom of the somewhat thin staircase shortly after Boromir, and headed for the beginning of the stone bridge where Ruki and Renamon were waiting for everyone. He turned to make sure Ken was still with him; the bluenette was managing to keep up, but he was looking particularly drained...

<Shit. I hope we'll be somewhere where we can rest after this, or Ken's not going to make it.>


The blonde turned his eyes to the top of the staircase, where, from around the corner, that same red light was beginning to shine. Gandalf was most of the way down the stairs, with Gimli close behind. The Hobbits were after Gimli, with Aragorn taking up the rear.

The light shone brighter and more maliciously than before, and a bellowing roar sounded throughout Moria, making everyone except Gandalf and Aragorn wince. Pippin, from where he was on the steps, even clapped his hands over his ears.

Beside Takeru, Patamon whimpered.


:A digimon, I think... another one... : the former-digimon said softly, his voice taking on a frightened hint. :And a strong one... Ultimate, maybe... possibly even more...: the wolf twitched, :Takeru, I can smell the Fire... Fire and Earth and Brimstone... Takeru, Gandalf's right -- we CAN'T fight this thing! I-If we don't make it out of here before-:




Patamon winced and whined again. :Takeru, we have to get out of here!:

"I know, I know!"

"Come-" Gandalf ordered (and no one was questioning it) as he reached the bridge; "we have to cross. At the other side, we will be close to the other side of Moria, and away from the Balrog..."


Takeru's eyes went to the bridge; it was made of rock, thin, and there was a chunk missing from the middle. He sized up the gap. <We can make that.> He assured himself determinedly; <and if the littler ones can't, the rest of us will just have to help them.>

"Takeru, come on." Ken nudged him onto the bridge, and together they crossed.

Once he was actually traversing it, the bridge wasn't all that thin...

Ruki and Renamon were the first to reach the gap in the bridge; Renamon simply wrapped an arm around Ruki's waist and, taking several running steps, jumped the gap with her Tamer in tow. Legolas reached it next, and leapt over to the other side with no problems. Boromir seemed to have been thinking the same thing as Takeru, and when he reached the gap he grabbed Merry and Pippin, tucking a Hobbit under each arm, and jumped across with the little ones as well. Legolas had to catch him so that he didn't stumble and plummet from the bridge once he landed, taking both of the little ones with him...


Gandalf, being older, had a harder time with jump; the others had to catch him on the other side, but he made it all the same. And Patamon, being a wolf at that point, jumped the gap with little trouble.

Wormmon could have followed, but instead chose to remain behind with Ken. Aragorn quickly picked Sam up and tossed him across the gap for Boromir to catch and set back on his feet. The Ranger turned to Gimli and reached, but the Dwarf waved him off indignantly.

"Nobody tosses a Dwarf!" He snapped, and, hefting his axe over his shoulder, attempted to jump across. His feet hit the edge of the other side, and he teetered... his axe was tipping him backward...


"Ah!" Ruki reached out quickly and her hand clamped onto the Dwarf's beard.

"Not the beard!" Gimli shouted, "not the beard!"

The girl scowled -- "fine!" -- and released the Dwarf.

Gimli teetered again, his free arm flailing wildly...

"Gimli!" Legolas dashed forward and caught his friend before he could fall. He propped the Dwarf back on his feet, where he promptly turned a scathing glare on Ruki. The orange-haired girl glared right back.

Takeru almost chuckled, but-


He glanced back over his shoulder... the firelight was getting brighter... they had to get out of there... "Alright Ken, your turn-" Takeru squeezed Ken's good arm. "Let's go."


"I'll give you a hand-"

"No, it's alright."

:It'll be okay, Ken.: Wormmon assured his partner.

Ken smiled slightly, then winced again when his shoulder pained him. "Let's do this, then." Walking backward a few steps, he cradled his arm against his side and ran at the edge, past Takeru who was watching with worry. Reaching the gap, he jumped-

-and Ruki caught him on the other side.

Takeru breathed a sigh of relief; the bluenette's arm was probably killing him now, but at least he'd made it safely. He turned around to look at Aragorn and Frodo, who, besides himself and Wormmon, were the only ones who had yet to cross.

"Alright, we-"

Thwack! Thwack!

Takeru jumped back a foot, barely avoiding the arrows that landed at his feet. That seemed to be a signal, and an almost-literal rain of arrows followed. "What the-!" He whirled around, reaching for his bow in the process, and his eyes traveled across the walls of the cavern. "Where-?" His gaze lighted on the Orcs just before an arrow from Legolas's bow slammed into one of them, leaving it to fall into the pit below. "Shit."

An arrow was readied and flying before he'd even really thought about it; Legolas and Ruki were retaliating as well, but there were a lot of the Orcs up in the walls....

"Go!" Takeru shouted at Aragorn; "you and Frodo go-" he backed up past them, getting out of their way. "I'll be after you!"

"But-" Frodo protested, "you'll be-"

"Come on, Frodo."


Takeru blocked their voices out and concentrated on his aim. An Orc fell under his arrows.

Another. Then another... and another. But they kept coming...one fell and was replaced by another immediately after....


The Child of Hope's head whipped around.

The Balrog was rounding the corner, fires flaring.


"Go, go!"

Aragorn grabbed hold of Frodo's tunic and prepared to make the jump.

"Look out!"

Takeru barely registered Merry's shout in time to look up and see the danger. A rock -- a boulder, really -- was plummeting toward the bridge from the ceiling. "Ack!" The blonde barely managed to ready himself for the impact...

And the boulder slammed into the stone of the bridge, taking a large chunk of it into the pit. Takeru gazed with horror at the now-twice-as-large-gap that had been created by the rock. Aragorn and Frodo stood at the edge, a few feet away from he and Wormmon (who had yet to jump over to the other side after Ken) and stared across at the others.

"Oh no...."


The Balrog was coming.

<This can't get any worse.>

A rumbling made him rethink that.


"Wha-?" Takeru looked -- down, this time -- and blinked stupidly for a second. The ground was... crumbling? It was crumbling? It was crumbling! "Fuck!" He threw himself backward -- Wormmon scrambling after him with a yelp -- before the ground under his feet could fall into the seemingly-bottomless pit below.

"Takeru! Wormmon! Are you two alright?"

"Ohhhh..." Takeru groaned and rubbed his head. Beside him, Wormmon whined pitifully and got to his feet carefully. "Ow." His hand clenched around his bow... only to discover that the bow was gone, along with the arrow that had been set in it. "Great. This is just bloody great. Now what?"


The ground rumbled again, and the Child of Hope's head snapped up to look toward Aragorn and Frodo, who were now standing on a platform, with nowhere to go on either side. The pillar they were on shuddered with the rumble and the base began to crack.

"Aragorn! Frodo!"

Takeru got to his feet and cast a glance over his shoulder toward the Balrog, then back to where the Ranger and Hobbit were standing. <Go, go!> He thought frantically, <at least get YOURSELVES out of there, even if I'm still where I am...>

The base of the pillar had crumbled completely on one side, and the platform was beginning to tilt. Aragorn grasped Frodo's shoulder. "Lean, Frodo!" The Ranger commanded, and the two of them leaned forward at the same time...

...the platform tipped forward with their weight, slamming into the other side violently; Aragorn and Frodo were thrown off and into the arms of their comrades. Takeru breathed a sigh of relief that both of them were safe.


:Takeru...: Wormmon's voice said. :Takeru!:

"Wormmon-" the blonde glanced at the wolf, then back at the Balrog, and finally at the monstrous hole in the bridge between himself and the others. "We can't get across that! There's no way we can get across that..."

Aragorn and Frodo may have been safe, but he and Wormmon were stuck on the wrong side of the bridge...


Legolas: A cliffhanger?

Me: Um, kinda' I guess.

Ken: We're in trouble, aren't we?

Me: Takeru is, for sure.

Takeru: *glowers* I hate you.

Me: *blink, blink* You do? *starts to wail* Nooooo! Don't hate me! I'm sorry! Gomen! Gomengomengomengomengomen! *clings to Takeru's legs*

Takeru: Okay, okay. I forgive you! Now get off my leg -- you're soaking my pants!

Me: *sniffle, sniffle* S-Sorry...

Ken: *sweatdrop* Um, why don't you talk to the nice readers?

Legolas: Good idea.

Me: Yeah. *brightens* Okay, so this is chapter 13. I'm not good at cliffhangers, so I don't know how well this one did, but... hope ya' like! ^-^


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