osgar and gimli

“AWWWWWWW!” roared Gimli, advancing on the pack. Eowyn would rescue the elf; it was his job to buy her enough time.

“Who wants to be first?” He swung the heavy, knotted rope—the remains of his bonds—around his head. “Come on, fight!”

One of the men drew a pair of knives and—

Schhhhum! A single arrow, slicing down through the foliage, buried itself between his eyes. The startled man frowned, staggered forwards, and dropped like a stone, his weapons falling from his dead hands.

“Thank ye, laddie!” Gimli shouted to his unseen comrade.

Then he charged, whirling his rope; and the thick knots, propelled by dwarven muscle, hit the next man full in the face. The wolf-man stumbled; Gimli struck again, bringing him to his knees, and again, laying him out cold. He dropped the rope and picked up the dead man’s knives. “Who is next?”

One of the wolf-men turned and fled.

You!” cried the dwarf, brandishing the blades at the larger of the two who remained. “I will take you next!”

The big wolf-man, intimidated by the dwarf’s relentless advance, looked to his companion for support; but other man, relieved by his own reprieve, was already backing away.

“Divide and conquer,” muttered Gimli. “Forget him,” he shouted, “I have chosen you.”

Reluctantly, the wolf-man drew a battle axe.

“Aw,” growled the dwarf. “Now that is cheating!”

The pair circled; and Gimli, unused to knife work, realised that he was hesitating. “Aw, bugger this!” he cried, and charged.

The wolf-man swung, badly misjudged the dwarf’s height, and missed; Gimli, safely past his enemy’s guard and quicker, despite his armour, stabbed.

With a gasp, the wolf-man, dropping his weapon, clutched at his chest.

Gimli swept up the battle axe. “Never challenge a dwarf with his own steel, laddie,” he cried. “Now—”

But the wolf-man lay, still and white, upon the ground, staring upwards with sightless eyes. Grunting, Gimli leaned down to close his eyelids.

Suddenly the man’s arms flew out and his body stretched, his back arching and his hips rising high, twisting and turning, as a terrible sound—like wood splitting beneath a blade—came up from his vitals.

Blood spattered his shirt and breeches.

“The rope, Lord Gimli!” yelled Osgar, who—having shot his last arrow—had rushed down from the flet. He scooped up the knotted cord and threw it to the dwarf. “Is there more?”

“Over there…”

“Bind him, my Lord!” cried the man. “Bind him now, whilst he is still weak!” He ran back to Gimli with a second length of rope.

“By the gods,” muttered the dwarf, “what a sight.”

The wolf-man was changing—his skin, ripped by his own nails, was falling in ribbons about his face and neck, and dark fur was sprouting from the bloody flesh; his jaws, working furiously, were growing longer and broader, crammed with cruel teeth; and foaming red-flecked spittle was flying from his snarling mouth…

“Now, my Lord, now!” cried Osgar; and man and dwarf pounced, Gimli slipping a hastily-tied noose over one of the flailing arms, Osgar doing the same to a clawed foot. “Over here,” cried the man, and battling with the wolf-man’s growing strength, the pair dragged the shrieking, writhing, blood-soaked creature to the foot of one of the trees and, passing the ropes around its trunk, bound him as tightly as they could.

“Will that hold him?” asked Gimli, doubtfully, as the werewolf, in its determination to escape, began to gnaw at its own wrist.

“I do not know, my Lord,” muttered the man, desperately searching for more rope. “I do not know!”



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