Ratings: PG -> PG-13
Warnings: [violence] [language] [het] [shounen-ai]
Pairings: Takeru/Ken & Ruki/Legolas
Notes: The only thing I own is in this chapter! ^-^ *huggles Graeme-Elf*
Disclaimer: ...unfortunately, I don't own Digimon (01, 02, Tamers, Frontier, etc.) or Lord Of The Rings (books, characters, places, etc.) I'm just using them and when I'm done with this and the sequel (and the sequel's sequel) they'll be returned for the next person to borrow, k?
Chapter Sixteen: Galadriel
Leaning over the edge of the stream, Takeru took a deep breath -- closing his eyes and steeling himself -- before looking at his reflection in the water. Finally, he cracked his eyes back open... and groaned. "Well, I look like hell."
It was true. A shallow cut (the one he'd acquired when Renamon had hit him) ran across the right side of his forehead and up into his hairline. It wasn't bad, but, as with all head-wounds, it had bled. A lot. His hair was matted with blood, and his skin was smeared and stained a rust brown across the right side of his face. It also wasn't healing very well, despite the fact that it was fairly shallow; instead, the gash remained raw and bled occasionally as they went. He hoped it wasn't getting infected. Aside from that, he was bruising, too, in the same spot; beneath the cut was starting to change colors, and he already had the beginnings of what was going to be a nasty black-eye.
He didn't even want to see his side and shoulder, but from the way he was aching they were probably in bad shape.
A sigh. <I guess we're all looking pretty bad, though, so...>
Wormmon, whose short-caterpillar-legs weren't made for running great distances, was asleep a few feet away. The tiny digimon had suffered various scrapes and bruises along the way, and two gashes marked him where the Orc's arrows has managed to skim across his back and leg.
Renamon, it seemed, was she who came out the most unscathed; she was currently seated on a large rock, staring off the way they were traveling and most likely considering their route. She had no visible injuries. Her fur was dusty and flecked with grime, and her tail was smeared with blood from where Takeru himself had gripped it, but she was no worse for wear.
Takeru sat back on his heels and closed his eyes again before reaching into the stream and, cupping his hands, bringing water to his face in the hopes of rinsing away at least some of the dried blood. <Not that it'll help much, but at least I won't FEEL as bad.>
They had been traveling away from Moria for nearly three days, and up until that day, the forest that had looked so promising when they had begun had been just as far away each morning when they woke up. Today, however, they had woken early and started out as usual, only to encounter the first grove of trees shortly after noon. Surprised and relieved, they had continued with renewed vigor. Now, it was nearly sunset and as they stopped again for the night, they discovered they had managed to make it not only closer to the forest, but into it. And resting next to a stream with cool, clean water and amongst the cover of trees was much better, in Takeru's view, than spending the night on open ground.
Shaking his head to rid it of excess water, the blonde rolled his shoulders, and then flopped back into the grass. Crossing his arms behind his head, he stared up past the treetops and into the starlit night.
His muscles twinged and he winced. Being an Elf in Middle Earth had been much more fun than it was being a Human. He already missed the enhanced eyesight, hearing and agility, not to mention the faster-healing...
<I SO want to go back to Tokyo. But first we have to find Ken and Patamon again. Then we can go home. IF we can even get home...> He sighed again and tilted his head up to look behind him at Renamon. The digimon was sitting where she had been, with Wormmon snoring softly under the rock she where she perched. "Renamon, I've got a question."
Renamon's eyes flicked back at him, then; "I can sense that we are getting closer to Ruki," she said. "The distance between ourselves and the others is lessening." A pause, and her eyes went back to the forest ahead. "The Fellowship must have stopped somewhere. They have not moved for some time... a day or so. They must have found somewhere safe. That was your question?"
Takeru chuckled and shook his head. "No, but thanks for the update." He grinned, "actually, I was going to ask if you ever slept? I haven't seen you sleep since... well, never. You can't go forever without rest, ne?"
Renamon gave a half-smile, "though I can go for some time without sleep. No. I simply rest when there is time, and I don't think it prudent for all of us to sleep and leave no one to keep watch at night. Especially here, where there is more than street muggers and stray digimon to worry about."
"Hm. Good point. But-" he propped himself up on his elbows; "still, I haven't seen you sleep at all the last few days. You should rest a little and let me keep watch for you."
But Renamon shook her head, "it's not necessary, though the thought is appreciated. I can go longer and function better without sleep than you or the little one-" she paused with a glance down at Wormmon. "You sleep, and I will rest when we reach Ruki and the rest of the company."
"...alright." Takeru shrugged and stretched out again. He'd learned this much: there was no point in arguing with either Renamon or her Tamer. Besides, at this point, he had learned to trust the fox-like digimon, and if she said she was fine, then he believed her. He crossed his arms behind his head again and closed his eyes. "Goodnight, Renamon."
Silence, then; "...goodnigh...."
<...never would have thought I'd be able to sleep so well out in the woods, but I've never been so TIRED in all my life...>
The statement wasn't true. Actually; he could remember many times in the Digital World -- most when he had been seven years old and with Yamato and the older Chosen Children, not when he had been eleven and with the other Chosen his age -- when he had wanted to fall down where he was and sleep forever.
<Of course, 'forever' has a very different meaning when you're seven years old... but... I was too young to know, then...>
He yawned, and his thoughts trailed off when he drifted into sleep. Not a very restful sleep, mind you... he was still worried about being where they were, even with Renamon on watch-duty. Instead of a deep and meaningful blackness, he dreamed... about Middle Earth... about the Fellowship... about the One Ring....about the Orcs and the Balrog... and then... about Ken...
He smiled in his sleep...
Renamon's voice jerked him awake again, and he was alert almost instantly. "Renamon-!" He started to stand... only to be confronted by the point of an arrow. His eyes flew open to their widest extent and he jerked his gaze to the person holding the bow. "Wha-?"
"Don't move." Renamon commanded softly from behind him. "They could kill us all in a heartbeat."
"We." A voice agreed, "the creature is correct. If we wished it, you would die... and who may I ask are you, who have trespassed in the forests of Lothlorien?"
Takeru frowned, "my name is Takeru Takaishi, but you wouldn't know me. This is Renamon and Wormmon."
"Takeru..." the voice repeated. "I see."
And abruptly the bow and arrow that had him pinned to the ground were swung away and he who owned the weapon quickly replaced the arrow in it's quiver. Takeru cautiously climbed to his feet and looked around. Renamon was standing nearby, with Wormmon on the ground next to her.... and those who had ambushed them were... Elves?
Takeru blinked. "Um... "
"I was under the impression," Renamon said, "that Elves were a kind race."
"That we are, Lady!" The same voice that had spoken before laughed, and one of the Elves stepped forward, shaking his blonde-haired head. "Allow me to apologize, but we of Lothlorien do not normally allow visitors to our lands." He tilted his head to the side; "Takeru... yes. We were told that you, too, were an Elf."
"I see. As with the other-" he nodded, seeming to understand (though Takeru was still completely in the dark), "I am sorry that we startled you and reacted to your presence so negatively." He held out his hand. "I am Graeme, a guard to the outskirts of Lothlorien, and these are my comrades."
Takeru shook his hand, slightly confused. "Um, hi."
Graeme chuckled, "we were told you and the... creatures... might be traveling this way, and, should you appear in this forest, our orders are to take you all to Galadriel."
"Galadriel?" Wormmon asked.
He glanced at the digimon, "you will see when you meet her..."
Takeru sighed, "pretty much everyone is secretive here," he told Wormmon, "but they are Elves, so..."
"Huh?" The blonde jerked his head around to look at Renamon, "what was that?"
Renamon's arms were crossed over her chest. "You-" she spoke to one of the Elves, and when he blinked she reached out and took hold of his arm. Pulling him closer to herself, she regarded him cooly. The Elf was staring at her, clearly confused, and glanced at Graeme, who simply continued to watch silently. "Hm..." Renamon ran her paw across the flabbergasted Elf's cheek and then raised it to her nose and sniffed delicately at the yellow fur. She smiled carefully. Turning to Takeru, she raised her head and re-crossed her arms. "Trust them." She repeated; "they carry Ruki's scent with them."
<So that's what she was doing.> The Child of Hope chuckled, "I was wondering, Renamon... but if you say so, then..."
Renamon nodded. "I do."
"Alright." Takeru shrugged and looked back at Graeme, "let's go, I guess."
The Elf nodded and turned crisply, motioning for the other Elves to follow. Takeru heaved a sigh and looked at the digimon. Renamon simply uncrossed her arms and strode forward after them. Wormmon stayed where he was, looking pensive as ever and rubbing his front claws together anxiously.
"Wormmon?" Takeru knelt next to his friend's partner. "What is it?"
"Worried about Ken?"
"Well, don't." The blonde patted Wormmon's head lightly and then picked him up. "Don't worry." Tucking the insectoid-digimon under an arm, he started after Renamon as she vanished into the foliage, following the Elves. "Renamon says the Fellowship is all together," he continued, "and that we should trust the Elves, as they have been safely near Ruki. Ken is a part of the Fellowship, ne? So he's with the others."
Wormmon still looked worried, "I suppose..."
"Don't 'suppose'." Takeru chided, "know."
The green-skinned digimon was silent and thoughtful, and Takeru, too, fell into silence, frowning to himself. Despite his strong words to Wormmon, he was feeling all-too nervous about following strangers -- Elves they may have been, but he wasn't sure he trusted anything strange in Middle Earth -- through the depths of a forest...
Takeru's eyes shifted, taking in the healthy trees and bright skies of Lothlorien. <...a MYSTICAL forest, it seems. Not that magic is strange in this World, though..> he shook his head, making Wormmon blink at him, and waved away the digimon's almost-question. <But... Elves have been friendly and helpful so far, and Renamon DID say we could trust them, so...> a sigh, <I guess we follow and see. Hopefully we get taken to Ken and the others... but... if it happens that they AREN'T as friendly as they seem right now, I think we're royally screwed...>
"Huh?" Takeru jumped slightly when Graeme appeared next to him, silently, and cleared his throat to catch the blonde Chosen's attention. "Um," the Child of Hope looked at the Elf with surprise, "-hey."
Graeme smiled gently, "I'm sorry if I startled you, you were deep in thought it seems..."
Takeru shrugged, trying to seem nonchalant, "not really."
"I see." The Elf raised an eyebrow, "well," he glanced at Wormmon, "actually, I had something I wished to ask you about, if I may-?"
"These creatures you travel with-"
"Digimon." Takeru stated, not even letting the Elf finish. He already knew where the question was going; he'd heard the same thing too many times already in his life to not know where it was going. "Renamon and Wormmon are what we call 'digimon'."
"Forgive me, but I do not know-"
The blonde grinned, "not many people in our world know, never mind people from yours." He assured Graeme, "digimon are life forms that were created from computer data... um, from non-living things." He could see that the Elf was no closer to understanding and considered. Finally; "okay, it'd be like if someone used arrows to communicate with others, alright?"
"-so, say you did. Use arrows for communicating, that is, and maybe for other things; like... hunting, obviously, or to find people you had been looking for." Takeru paused, frowning as he tried to translate what he wanted to say into something Graeme could understand and possibly pass on to his people. "So you use your arrows for things like that, right? Then someone comes along and changes those arrows -- gives them life and gives them personality and gives them power... and what those arrows become don't look or sound or act like the arrows you remember and know, but what they have become are still made up of arrows... um, see?"
Graeme was frowning, his brows furrowed. "...yes," he agreed, nodding slightly, "it does make some sort of sense."
"Some sort?" Takeru asked.
"Yes," Wormmon piped up, "just not the kind of sense you can make sense of!"
Takeru rapped the bug's head lightly. "No one asked you."
Wormmon giggled softly, the first sign that he wasn't horribly worried since they had been separated from the others. Takeru chuckled, too. He was glad that the digimon wasn't crippled by angst...
"Anyway," he turned his attention back to Graeme, "seriously, it's a really complicated thing to try to explain to someone who doesn't know what computers and data are. But... I tried my best, ne?"
Graeme laughed, "I won't, I swear to you. I think I don't want to know."
"Well, then, it's settled."
"Sure." Takeru nodded, watching the ground as he walked. "So... I told you about digimon... uh, kind of." He glanced up; "will you tell me about this Galadriel? Or will I just be as confused as you are about digimon?"
"No, no," the Elf assured him, "I would have been able to explain Lady Galadriel to you sufficiently-"
"-however," Graeme continued, pausing in his step, "it would be easier if for you to hear things from the Lady herself."
"Herself-?" Takeru blinked, looking back at Graeme but continuing to walk. "What do you -- oof!" He bumped into someone and gasped, then backed away a step. "Itai! Renamon! Why'd you stop like that?" He coughed and pretended to spit; "I got fur in my mouth, damn it!"
"Shh." Renamon commanded, "quiet. Can't you sense it?"
Wormmon tapped his arm, nervous again; "there is a lot of power here..."
"Here?" Takeru looked around, "where? Hell, guys, I'm only Human again, remember? Come on, give me a hand here-"
And, as if on cue, Renamon stepped to the side. Beyond the fox-digimon, in the shade of a huge willow tree, stood a woman... an Elf... an Elf of exquisite beauty. Takeru was practically struck dumb, and stared blankly at her. Renamon, however, was not so frozen, and dropped gracefully to one knee; Wormmon struggled out of Takeru's grasp and bowed as deeply as his four-sets-of-legs would allow.
"Behold-" Graeme's hand came down on his shoulder as the Elf stepped up from behind him, "the Lady Galadriel."
Around him, though they hadn't bowed as the digimon did, the Elves had lowered their gazes in respect. And suddenly, Takeru felt the need to do the same. His eyes lowered to the grass at his feet. "Lady, I-"
"Ah!" Musical laughter sounded around him and after a few seconds- and the soft sound of footsteps on moss -- a gentle hand tilted his head up and he found himself staring in eyes so deep he could have drowned in them. "Now, I do not ask for such reverence. I only ask to be Galadriel... as you, even if you are unaware, only ask to be Takeru."
Takeru blinked, "how do you know my-"
"Your name?" Galadriel smiled, "ah, but the blue-haired one spoke of you with great affection."
"Blue-haired-?" The blonde frowned, "Ken? You're talking about Ken."
Instead of responding, Galadriel turned her attention to Wormmon. "And you, Little One... he spoke of you with as much affection as he spoke of Takeru. He is most fond of both of you. And finally, on to the most mysterious of the Three..." she patted Wormmon's head even as her eyes went to Renamon. "I See a warrior's heart, kindred with that of your Tamer..."
"-my Tamer?" Renamon showed surprise; "what do you know of my Tamer?"
"More than you should think." Galadriel replied mysteriously. Straightening, she turned and began to pace away. "Please, you need not kneel; stand and be well." A graceful gesture with one hand and most of the Elves vanished into the forest, disappearing as silently as they had appeared in the first place. At last only Graeme remained. "Graeme," Galadriel said, "kindly escort these souls to where our other guests are lodging for the night. I am certain," she added, turning to grace them with another beautiful smile, "that they miss their friends..." her gaze landed on Takeru and stayed there. *And you,* a voice said in his head, making him start. *You have more longing in your heart than do the others....longing for a certain other... and he-* the voice paused and then laughed musically; *-he longs for your company as well...*
Takeru stared at Galadriel in shock. <She knows. How can she know.... HOW can she..?>
"Please, Graeme," she said out loud, "take them to their friends."
Graeme tipped his head respectfully again, "of course, Lady."
Takeru opened his mouth to say something; but before he could utter a sound, Galadriel vanished past the willow and into the depths of the forest again. The blonde blinked. She had seemed to disappear almost magically...
"Well," Graeme's voice brought him back, "follow me."
And he started off into the trees, walking briskly. Takeru had to jump to catch up, and Wormmon scuttled after him. Renamon stood for a long moment, simply watching the forest where Galadriel had vanished. For some reason, the fox felt an odd connection with the Lady... finally, she turned and silently followed after them.
"That," Graeme said softly to Takeru, "was Galadriel."
Takeru stooped long enough to pick Wormmon up again before continuing in Graeme's footsteps. "She was... incredible."
"Yes." The Elf stopped walking and brushed aside some overhanging boughs, revealing a clearing... a stream ran along the outskirts... shining moss -- that glowed with an ethereal light -- grew, covering the ground and softening their footsteps... and there were people...
"Oh-" Wormmon began.
At that single utterance, those within the clearing paused what they had been doing and looked toward them in surprise. Beside Takeru, Renamon vanished to re-appear inside the clearing. Takeru stared blankly for a moment before a grin spread over his face.
Takeru gave a half-salute, even as Graeme was leaving to disappear into the forest as the other Elves had. Those in the clearing were beginning to smile. Takeru grinned widely; "hey guys!" He said, "long time no see."
Me: Hurrah for reunions.
Takeru: At least we're safe....
Me: Yeah. Only a couple more chapters and that's it.
Me: Uh-huh. Okay, so I think I'm going to end up with about twenty chapters... I have a bunch of really good ideas for the sequel... yay! *pats self on back* lol.