lynati: (CuteLyn)
[personal profile] lynati
Hearken ye back to a time when I started first posting bits of Hobbit AU fic. This is the last part of chapter one of For Want of an Arrow, the first bits of which can be found HERE and HERE.



The first orc to drop with an arrow through his eye surprised Thorin, as did each one that followed. The likelihood that Kili has acquired a bow and is backing him up is almost as unlikely as an actual elf coming to his aid, but he doesn't have time to figure out where the shots are originating from, let alone who is firing them. An entire army is sprinting towards him, a broken line of orcs streaming down from the mountain, and he hasn't an ally in sight...save for the unseen archer.

Two orcs in the middle ground fall to white-fletched arrows, and Thorin savages the only breathing enemy within forty feet with stabs to the gut and face with his broken sword. When it snapped under Azog's mace, the blade lost two-thirds of its length and with it, his ability to offset the advantage of an orc's greater reach. It is going to cost him, perhaps fatally, if he doesn't remedy that soon.

The next brute approaches with unexpected caution, regarding Thorin and the bodies around him with baleful yellow eyes. It comes to a halt, scenting the air.

It wants to know how much I've bled, how weakened I am.

The orc twirls its weapon and shoots a quick glance over its shoulder, throwing out a hand to halt the passage of the next soldier. The yellow-eyed one snaps a word at the newcomer, which snarls in reply but obeys the unexpected order to wait.

Thorin drags air into his lungs, both grateful for the reprieve and not thrilled with knowing he'll soon be facing multiple orcs at once instead of one or two at a time. His eyes run a quick sweep of his surroundings; spotting a corpse still holding a scimitar, he steps sideways to claim it. A third orc has drawn close, and no arrows come to thin the pack; the archer has run out, or moved on, or been killed. Thorin snaps up a broken gauntlet with his free hand, gripping the leather straps to keep it in place across his arm, and wishes for the sturdy weight of his lost oak branch.

He calls for Dwalin, and for Kili, but there is no response on the still air. There are more orcs coming, and he cannot wait for their numbers to grow enough to overwhelm him. Thorin runs at the trio, and his focus contracts to a series of instants. Blade, mace, maul, fist; duck, crunch, dodge, swing.

He takes down two of the orcs, but three more join the fray. Brief glimpses past the crush of his opponents show a steady trickle of orcs crossing the ice towards him, unimpeded. Thorin redoubles his efforts, but surrounded as he is, he's having to spend far more time blocking attacks than delivering them. Another orc arrives, but his clumsy attempts to join the group muddle their actions, and Thorin is able to take the head off of one and drive his blade through the shoulder of another.

Only when the orcs stop pressing their attack and two newest arrivals don't even take a swing at him does Thorin look up to find that Dwalin has been fighting his way towards him...and now faces Azog.

A glance passes between them, and Thorin knows that his oldest friend is fully prepared to take on Azog in his name. But this is a battle Dwalin should be fighting alongside him, not for him. Thorin flings himself against his attackers, but if defending oneself against four attacking orcs makes it difficult to manage an attack on one's own, trying to fight six orcs who are focusing on nothing but their own defense is nigh impossible. They are an unbreachable wall- but not an immovable one, and Thorin starts closing the gap between himself and where Dwalin is fighting Azog.

Unfortunately, that fight is also moving, and in the time it has taken Thorin to move forward fifteen paces, they have moved fifty paces off of the river. Every time he spares a moment to lay eyes on the duel, it's moved further away. Dwalin seems to be holding his own against the orc commander, and Thorin gives a silent cheer as the warrior dwarf disarms Azog of his giant mace.

He has his eye on Dwalin for a second longer than he ought, and one of the orcs lands a blow to Thorin's head that sends him reeling with a surprised cry. Blood drips down into his eye, and a lizard-skinned orc laughs.

Thorin launches himself up at the fell soldier; it blocks his sword, but is unprepared for Thorin slamming the back edge of his borrowed gauntlet into its throat. The orc drops to the ground, choking on its collapsed windpipe.

The remaining five are unphased by the loss of their comrade, maintaining their defensive wall; Thorin maintains his attempts to cut through them. Upriver, Dwalin and Azog's fight has returned to the ice- Dwalin has been disarmed, and is now facing Azog with no more than his wits and barely-covered fists. Thorin's gaze cuts from them to his own opponents and back again; one moment Dwalin appears about to be skewered by a thrust from Azog's arm, and the next, Azog is struggling to free it from the ruins on the riverbank. A tooth-baring grin stretches Thorin's face; Azog is moments away from taking the first weapon Dwalin can find to the neck, and there is edged steel aplenty to be found nearby.

And then Azog rips himself from his constraint, his blade having not been hampered merely by rock but by a moat-chain hidden under the snow as well; the chain and its wall-mounting break free entirely as the huge orc heaves.

Azog spins, chain in hand, and the block of masonry bound to its end whips through the air...

...and right into Dwalin's head.

All the air departs from Thorin's lungs.

Dwalin's body goes flying.
It lands in a boneless heap.
His skull is-

Thorin's eyes leap to Azog, barely seeing the soldiers he's battling against. The orc commander turns to look directly at Thorin, and licks his lips.

Fili dead. Dwalin dead. Kili-

Thorin is going to kill Azog if it costs him his last breath. Let him lose his hands and feet and he will take the pale orc out with his teeth if necessary. Blades pierce his flesh and Thorin doesn't care; the pain is nothing next to his anguish, the gutted sense of one more thing ripped away from him. One orc falls before his sword, and then a second; there are only three left between him and Azog, and still the pale orc stands, unmoving, smiling at him, the guzg is SMILING at him-

Azog idles over to Dwalin's broken form, prodding it with the tip of his blade; even though Thorin knows Dwalin cannot still be alive, it's like a knife in Thorin's own gut when he sees Azog run his old friend through. When the orc retracts his arm, the lower half of the weapon is darkly coated with blood.

“Did I not say you'd live long enough to watch them all die?”

Grief and anger vie for space in Thorin's chest and throat. This CANNOT be our end. It WILL NOT be our end! If I can but REACH him-

But Azog's words are taken as a sign by his soldiers, who revive their attack on Thorin with malicious zeal. Every landed blow is one he has to fight for, and Thorin is distantly aware that he isn't focused like he should be, isn't taking the time to search for weaknesses and the best avenues of attack, but venting his fury indiscriminately. If he isn't careful, he won't survive long enough to face Azog; there's little chance of someone arriving in a chip of time to assist him- but he doesn't want to BE careful. He just wants them all dead, lying in a bloody pile, skulls smashed open like-

A rock flies out of nowhere and smacks the orc directly in front of him in the nose and it flinches its face away; Thorin dives up for the kill. Moments after the body falls, Azog calls out to the two orcs left standing. They abruptly abandon their assault and sprint off, clearing the way for Thorin to finally approach his adversary.

Azog the Defiler stalks towards him, still bearing the moat chain and its blood-smeared bludgeon. Thorin starts running at him; Azog picks up his pace to do the same.

The pale orc swings the chain and Thorin ducks under it; the second swing comes faster and lower than he anticipates, forcing him to jump backwards out of range. The third swing he dives under, skidding across the ice to gash at Azog's thigh. He takes a swing at the orc's back once he's behind him, but the blade glances off of armor as his opponent twists back. The next arc of the chain whip comes low enough that it almost takes out Thorin's legs; the angle buries the masonry chunk briefly in the ice before Azog levers it back into the air.

Thorin again flings himself under the chain as it passes, this time scoring a hit on Azog's left side. The chain moves his hand as much as his hand moves the chain; against an opponent this close, it is a liability! If he wishes to use his hand against me, he will have to let go of the flail, or slow it to the point where it no longer moves with deadly speed.

Azog, however, picks a third option- lowering his arm on the next swing and clubbing Thorin in the face with his chain-wrapped fist. The dazed dwarf barely manages to stumble out of the way of a thrust from the orc's blade, only noticing that this has put him back in the path of the chain whip with a scant second to move out of its way.

After this latest near-miss, the orc changes his form of attack, treating the chain more like a lengthy war-hammer than a flail. Thorin dodges, but the repeated impacted on the river's frozen surface has started causing it to crack, which makes for uneasy footing.

The next spin changes halfway through, and Thorin leaps forward in time for the chain to swipe his legs out from under him with bruising force- which still beats taking the head of it through both ankles. He rolls out of the way of another overhead strike, scrambling up and launching another attack at Azog, slashing at his bladed arm. If he can just get behind the orc and put the blade through the back of his neck...

Thorin picks his point of attack, picks his timing, and launches himself at The Defiler. Azog shifts his weight in preparation to meet him-

- and the cracks in the ice on either side of the orc's feet rush together, freeing the burg from its surroundings and tilting precariously. Thorin stumbles. Azog leaps backwards onto sturdier footing before he can slip into the icy water below, and calls tauntingly to Thorin.

“Your shield is lost. Your kin have fallen. I will take your head, like I did your grandfather's, and put it on a pike for all to see. Then I will sniff out every last one of your filthy bloodline by the fear in their veins, and cut. them. open.”

Thorin's rage gives him strength, and he closes with Azog; briefly, their fight is once more blade-on-blade. Azog manages a particularly vicious blow that Thorin barely blocks; the force of it scrapes him back several feet.

Out of the corner of his eye he spots someone fighting in the ruins on the riverbank– Kili, he thinks with momentary relief, or maybe Bilbo, although their burglar should be long gone from this Mahal-forsaken place- but no, there are flashes of green and red, and the sense that the warrior is too tall to be a dwarf, much less a hobbit. The archer? A tiny part of his mind wonders at the identity of his ally.

The chain whip flies up at Thorin, Azog swinging it in a surprise underhand, and while Thorin manages another hair's breath dodge to save his body, his scavenged weapon isn't so lucky; struck by the immense flail, the scimitar is ripped from Thorin's grip and sent flying. It lands on the broken patch of ice and disappears between the cracks.

Azog feints with his blade and snakes the chain whip around again, building up speed, and Thorin finds himself ducking under passes again, looking for an opening; when Azog brings the chain in low, the dwarf king barely manages to avoid it, his feet slipping in the snow as he leaps to one side. The masonry makes a crunching noise as it hits the ice; the sound it makes as it rebounds into Thorin's leg is eerily similar.

There is a fraction of a second where he feels nothing but the force of the impact. The pain, when it comes, defies description; it's something like localized dragon-fire, like the stabbing of a dozen frozen knives, like a shattered scream. The agony is so great it pours out of his mouth, overpowering his vow to never allow a weakness to show.

Thorin's aware he's collapsed onto the ice, that Azog is even now preparing to end his life; he knows that he needs to put the pain aside, to move out of the way and find a new weapon. But it's as if Azog's attack took him in the neck and not the leg, for his body won't respond to the knowledge of his approaching death. All he can think is that if he survives this, he won't walk again; the fact he isn't going to survive this seems secondary.

“Thorin!” The cry is desperate, the voice unfamiliar; a woman's. Something slaps against his uninjured leg. The following comes as a series of still images- a red-haired she-elf, body canted forward and arm outstretched; the sword that now rests next to him; his own hand wrapping around its hilt and the quiet shock as he recognizes it for Orcrist, the goblin-cleaver; Azog's incredulous expression as Thorin lunges up on his good leg, shoving the blade through the orc's armor, his ribs, and his heart.

Azog the Defiler, chieftain of the Moria orcs, bane of Durin's line, goes limp and falls, the mass of stone he held upraised leveraging him backwards. Orcrist's hilt pulls free from Thorin's hands and he falls as well, barely catching himself from landing face-first on the ice.

Motion and sound coming towards him. He turns his head and sees the she-elf running, and an orc running after her. She is...unarmed.

The sword. She is the one who threw him the sword.

Thorin's still processing this when he sees her body jerk, the momentum of her stride carrying her forward even as she crumples. There's a flash of orange-red-grey that flies past her, and Thorin hears the thunk of a throwing-axe landing seconds after the elf's body thwishes into the snow.

The orc chasing her barely slows, he only turns his eyes to Thorin and adjusts his approach. The dwarf king knows he must appear an easy target, gasping for breath on his hands and knees, but Thorin just killed Azog the Defiler; he'll be damned if he'll die under the sword of some random orc underling. He crawls up Azog's corpse, reaching the sword-hilt imbedded under the pale orc's sternum even as the yellow-eyed soldier reaches him.

Orcrist pulls cleanly free of Azog's torso, and Thorin turns the incoming glaive aside and brings the sword back up to hamstring his attacker in one curl of movement. The orc falls, shrieking, and Thorin cuts its throat. At least, that's what he means to do; the combined momentum and sharpness of the blade take the orc's head clean off. Thorin shoves the corpse towards Azog, trying to avoid the gush of black blood, and collapses to his side. His left leg is a mass of agony, even with the pressure off of it.

He resists the urge to call for Kili, or any other dwarves that may have come up the Hill; doing so could draw other attention, and even one more goblin will be the death of him. If the others are alive, they will find him. All he can do now is rest; and he is tired, so very tired. He just needs a few minutes away from the pain, away from the world.

Thorin lets his head sink back against the snow, and closes his eyes.

*

Kili senses movement near him and forces his eyes to open, hoping to see Tauriel or his uncle or anyone that isn't an orc, really. The sight that greets him almost makes him wish it were an orc, for the elf crouching beside him and favoring him with a glare that could wither grass isn't Tauriel but one of the others who had taken them captive in Mirkwood. Kili tries to pull away from his reaching hands.

“Lie still,” the pale-haired elf snaps at him. “A friend of mine may well have sacrificed her life for you, and I'm not about to let her die in vain for the sake of some foolish dwarven child.” He places both palms against Kili's neck.

Kili has just enough time to feel a stab of panic- what happened to Tauriel?!- before everything goes white.

#

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