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On the knife’s edge
The characters, places, and events are creations of J.R.R. Tolkien. No profit was or will be made from this story. It was written solely for entertainment.
As always many, many thanks to my wonderful beta reader LadyLindariel.
One short moment may change the life of Elrond forever.
Chapter 1: From one moment to the other
Glorfindel tightened his hold on the child sitting in front of him. Elladan was wriggling and bouncing unable to sit still in his excitement. He was not only irritating the dutifully trotting stallion beneath him but also his brother sitting in front of him.
However, neither the whinnied protest of Asfaloth, nor the glare from Elrohir could subdue him. Glorfindel only stilled the permanently pounding legs on his horse´s shoulder, having recognised the flattened ears of his mount.
Glorfindel smiled. The twin sons of Master Elrond were excited beyond measure because yesterday the warrior had finally relented to the long-term bidding of his young charges to take them on an exploring tour outside the valley. Months and months their father had denied his permission, claiming the valley´s surroundings as too dangerous for children so small.
Finally, when the boys had reached their 30th begetting day and with no report of increased orc activity, Master Elrond had given his permission to let them go.
Lady Celebrían however, could not really be convinced that her children could be kept save. Glorfindel had planned the route carefully, had checked it twice the days before and had promised to return after one camping night and a picnic afterwards. The excitement of her children and the assurance from the warrior that he would do all in his power to keep them safe had finally won the First Lady over.
The children could barely be convinced to sleep the night before the trip and even before sunrise both had made the whole house known they were ready.
Glorfindel had taken them high up the steep incline reaching the highest point of the surrounding mountains with a breath-taking view down the sheltered valley. The twins had giggled how tiny their father´s house looked from that point and had laughed at the crawling “ants”.
Afterwards they had crossed the invisible border that kept the valley safe from unfriendly eyes. The children had made round eyes when suddenly their wont surroundings had vanished.
Nothing now indicated the way down the valley. With awe, they had listened when Glorfindel explained that it was their father´s magic protecting their home. Elladan was excited to be in “real orc land” now. While Elrohir had looked uncertain, Glorfindel had only rolled his eyes.
However, before they resumed their trip he had made it very clear to the boys that at all times they had to follow his orders and never go anywhere without his consent. Elrohir had nodded instantly where Elladan had declared what could possibly happen with the mightiest warrior abroad.
`Sweet innocent child` the “mighty” warrior had thought by himself and given the signal to continue.
The afternoon had been thrilling to the boys. Glorfindel had shown them various tracks of animals they had to identify for him, they had explored caves, collected edible berries and he had even shown them how to catch their own evening meal – a big fish from a clear stream.
The camping evening with the cooking of the fish over a self-kindled fire had ended “the very best day ever”, as Elrohir had declared.
Glorfindel had not even had to admonish them to sleep – the boys were deadly tired from all the activities and had nearly fallen asleep while he was telling them a story from the days of Gondolin. He carried them inside the little tent he had brought with him and gazed fondly at the already sleeping elflings.
“Sleep well, my little warriors!”
Glorfindel then took his position next to the fire to take his night watch. Never did he let the tent´s entrance out of sight while listening to the sounds of the night forest.
The sun had already risen while the children still slept. Glorfindel had warmed some milk and unpacked the bread, cheese and fruit.
He was just about to wake the twins when he heard a sound. He stood and slowly readied his sword. He carefully walked toward the tent ready to pounce on every intruder possible.
Suddenly a black squirrel raced down the tree, over the clearing, snatched a piece of cheese and vanished over the trees on the opposite side.
Glorfindel re-sheathed his sword and glared after the little animal.
“Thief!” he muttered while bending down and dragging the mats the boys were sleeping on out of the tent.
Two pairs of sleepy eyes looked at him but only for a moment.
“Glorfindel, I´m hungry…”
“I´m going to pee….”
“What´s for breakfast…?”
“When do we leave…?”
“Are there any orcs around…?”
“I have to tell Ada and Nana….!”
“I have not slept at all….!”
Glorfindel sighed after …” breakfast is ready….”, “don’t go too far…”, “soon….”, “no orcs abroad”, “oh yes of course….”
The warrior closed his mouth and smiled when only the need for air and the first bite of bread interrupted the chatting of the boys.
“Have you kept watch all night?” Elladan asked between two bites and looked around.
“Yes, and it was a quiet and uneventful night.”
“How boring,” Elladan declared while finishing his last piece of cheese.
Glorfindel hid a smile. For little Elladan nothing could progress fast enough.
“I´m looking forward to telling Nana all we have seen and I will bring her this…look!” Elrohir pulled a shining blue stone from his pocket.
Glorfindel regarded the stone thrust under his nose.
“That´s pretty, Elrohir. Your mother will be happy.”
The boy smiled and carefully packed the stone back into his pocket.
“So, boys pack up and we will leave. The sky promises rain.”
“I can see no clouds,” Elladan declared while rolling up his sleeping bag.
“Me neither,” Elrohir confirmed his brother´s statement
Glorfindel sighed and closed his eyes briefly.
One hour later, the heaven had opened all gates. Glorfindel with the boys sitting in front of him had just directed his horse on the path along the steep mountain wall high up the valley. He had not believed that the rain would come this quickly.
The change of weather could not have come at a more mistimed moment. The narrow path became wet and slippery within moments. The children had long stopped chatting and were huddling together.
Elrohir had tightened his hold on the horse´s mane while Elladan was hugging his brother´s waist a little too tight. Glorfindel had spread his woollen cloak over the already shivering children.
When lightning struck and the boys shrieked with fear Glorfindel looked at the sky with worry.
Water was cascading down the rock face and the stallion had trouble already in finding sure footing. Glorfindel manoeuvred the horse as near to the wall as possible, yet the downpour transformed the path into a muddy slide.
When a flash of lightening hit the rock face and loosened a rockslide, the horse reared up and the elflings screamed this time in real terror.
With both hands on the boys, Glorfindel could not really comfort his horse, his voice drowned out by the loud thunder.
While Glorfindel tightened his hold on his young charges, the horse´s legs came back to the ground but found no steady path anymore and then everything happened in slow motion.
The horse, the elf and the two elflings tumbled over the edge and were falling head over heels down the slope.
Desperately Glorfindel tried to grab anything to stop their descend, yet the earth and the roots were too slippery. Elladan was ripped from his hands and he cried the elfling´s name, yet to no avail while nature hit with full force now.
His world went black instantly when his back hit something hard and an incredible pain snuffed out his conscience.
To be continued…….
Chapter 2: darkness everywhere
The Elf-lord looked up sharply when his wife sitting next to him at the high table moaned. The teacup fell from her suddenly lifeless fingers and clattered on the table sloshing tea all over.
He had not even time to ask a word when he felt a piercing pain right in his heart at the same time.
“The boys,” Celebrían whispered and Elrond could only nod. He felt as clearly as his wife that something bad had happened to their children. He instantly searched his bonds with the twins and swallowed relieved when he found them dimmed but intact. They had to be unconscious or extremely distracted with fear or pain then.
Erestor and Lindir sitting across from the couple needed no confirmation what had happened. A look in both ashen faces told them enough.
Yet they waited before springing into action focusing on the healer instead. Elrond’s eyes were still closed as he listened inside.
After endless moments, he came back to awareness.
“I can reach Elrohir, but not Elladan, he must be unconscious. Elrohir is extremely scared but responding.”
Celebrían´s gaze was directed into the distance but she nodded to her husband´s statement.
Erestor narrowed his eyes. The short statement of his Lord made him wonder, even when his sharp mind was already working. What could have possibly happened? The children were in the care of Glorfindel and he could not imagine anyone more competent to guarantee the safe keeping of the heirs of Imladris.
Yet Imladris´ seneschal did not for one minute question the emotional experiences of the high couple; he only had to look in the distressed faces.
Knowing his Lord and Lady long enough he did not have to wait long for the next announcement.
“Erestor, please make all ready for my immediate departure. I will have Tinár and four warriors ready to depart in thirty minutes. I will change and grab my healing supplies.”
The healer had already risen and was striding toward the door.
Erestor nodded and only raised an eyebrow knowing without looking what demand would follow.
“I´m coming with you,” the first Lady announced, her face set.
The healer stopped in mid-stride and took a deep breath.
“No, I will go alone. It´s already dark and it has started to rain. It is no safe place for……”
He had no chance to finish his sentence.
“Elrond Peredhil, I´m not one of your staff to order around. Our children are in danger and I will come with you. Darkness and rain will not stop a daughter of Galadriel.”
Erestor rose and left with a sigh. He knew how this would end.
The healer turned slowly around now facing his wife.
“Celebrían, it´s not safe and I do not speak of rain and darkness. I already have the twins to worry about and maybe Glorfindel.”
The healer´s glare was piercing. Seeing the pain in his beloved eyes, his voice softened a bit.
“I need you here to sustain the contact with the children and keep their spirits up.”
“You are wasting time, Elrond. I can help the boys best when I´m out there.”
The Lady of Imladris had gathered her long robe and was striding toward the door.
“Celebrían no! You will stay here and I will not say one more word on that matter.”
His voice had not been overly loud, yet every elf in the room witnessing this scene swallowed. Their Lord seldom used this tone.
Without a further word, the healer proceeded his wife and hurried out the door. Celebrían followed her face red with anger.
When Elrond left the paved courtyard and the hooves of his horse became inaudible he turned his head. Celebrían was standing at the top of the great steps her long hair blowing behind her. Her gaze was not directed toward him but into the distance.
He knew that she was still angry. She had shut their bond connecting them, yet her anger still rolled in waves from her.
While packing his healing supplies she had again tried to convince him to take her with him. She had tried all tactics even used the most powerful weapons all women had – tears.
Even if he did understand his wife´s motivation to come to their children’s aid, he had to refuse; the upcoming mission was complicated already without throwing another uncertainty factor in the ring – a mother scared senseless with fear for her children.
All had ended in an ugly dispute. The healer did not doubt the skills of his wife to defend herself in the wild – her father Lord Celeborn had trained her personally – yet the worry for her children would cloud her judgement.
She had thrown at him that he was a father as she was a mother – that was right, but in long years as a healer, he had perfected the ability to shut out emotions when treating a family member.
He only hoped that his confidence in his training did not betray him on what was to come.
With a silent command, he turned his horse around. He would deal with his irritated wife later. Knowing she was safely home had to be comfort enough right now.
He gave the signal and urged his mount forward. The great black stallion made a mighty leap and galloped onto the bridge over the Bruinen to enter the small mountain pass bringing his rider quickly up the steep incline. At the top, he again turned back and gazed down at his house´ entrance. Celebrían was no longer there. He sighed.
“Alright, let us make haste,” he announced while again urging his horse forward.
Tinár, Elrond´s personal assistant and an expert like the Master healer pressed his lips into a thin line. The shortness of his chief´s commands clearly indicated how tense the healer was despite his best efforts in not letting it show.
Three packhorses also accompanied them. Elrond had taken all he could think of with him, from the simplest bandage to a tent where he could perform surgery if necessary.
The four warriors accompanying them fanned out. Even if a formidable fighter, the healer seldom left his valley and the warriors would take no chance.
One day and well into the following night the rescue party was now abroad. They had taken no rest so far and Tinár looked with worry at the hunched Elf-lord over the neck of his horse in a futile attempt to avoid some of the pouring rain. For hours now, it had been raining heavily and it showed no signs of stopping.
Tinár understood his Lord´s anxiety to reach his children as quickly as possible, yet the down-pouring rain did make the terrain slippery and dangerous.
When the healer´s horse made a misstep and Elrond only stayed atop with much balancing talent, Tinár raised his hand and called for a stop. At first Elrond did not react, only after a second more urgent call he halted. It had become almost completely dark by now, the moon veiled by clouds.
The Lord of Imladris turned and his long-wet hair was sloshing around his shoulders.
“What?” he asked irritation colouring his voice.
Tinár dismounted and walked up.
“Elrond, we need a break, the horses are tired and stumbling in the dark will gain us nothing.”
The healer pushed back his hood. The four warriors had come nearer hoping that their chief would consent to a break.
“Tinár, we have to go on. The boys and Glorfindel need our help. I can clearly feel that the health of my children is deteriorating with every passing minute. We cannot delay and a bit of rain will surely not stop me.”
“Maybe that was Glorfindel´s assumption also and now he is in need of help. You will need all your strength and wits when we reach them. A tired and frantic healer will not help them.”
The Half-elf´s eyes blazed in the dark and Tinár already feared that the healer would say no but then he dismounted.
“Alright, but only until the horses are rested. We cannot waste much time.”
The nearly audible sigh of the younger healer was echoed from the warriors.
They receded a bit into the bushes to a little clearing, easy to overview and fit for their purpose. The six elves did not bother with a fire, only unpacking their dried meat and some fruits. One of the warriors, Thalan refilled all water bottles.
While all sat there eating, Elrond´s gaze was again directed at the top of the mountains. Tinár wondered if the Elf-lord knew exactly where his children were or if this was more an empathic level. Just as the healer wanted to take a bite, he sprung up his bowl with the food falling to the floor.
“Valar, no please. Don´t let it happen.”
Even if dark, Tinár could see the fear in his Lord´s eyes. He didn´t need to ask what Elrond had perceived.
All thoughts on rest forgotten, the six elves mounted their horses and headed into the dark.
To be continued…………...
Chapter 3: on the mountainside
When Elrohir awoke, he felt something wet on his cheek. Irritated he brushed it away only to notice that it was wet hair, but it felt odd: very coarse and it had a bad smell. Opening his eyes slowly, he recognized that it was dark, cold and raining.
Why was he laying on wet earth and where did all this white hair come from?
Wait a minute, white hair? he thought to himself confused.
Elrohir carefully pushed himself up on his elbows, groaning when his head started throbbing. Touching his forehead, Elrohir blinked when his hand came back bloody.
Letting out a shriek, he did what was natural to him like breathing: he opened his bond to his twin-brother craving for comfort. But to his utter shock on the other end was nothing – a black chasm.
Elrohir now truly scared, skid back on his shins. He let out another shriek, when his feet were suddenly dangling over nothing. Instantly he grabbed for something to hold and managed to grab the closest thing in front of him: the mysterious wet, white hair. Pulling himself back to safer ground Elrohir lay there breathing hard.
So many questions raced through his mind: What was going on here? Where was he? Why was it dark and raining? Where was his brother and why was his head throbbing so awfully?
“Ada, Nana, Glorfindel?” he called in a timid voice – more a sob than anything else.
To his utter disappointment, only the constant dripping of the rain and the howling of the wind was his answer.
Sitting on the ground, cradling his knees together, Elrohir tried to remember the recent events. As he willed himself to remember, his head begun to throb even more as his memory came back full force.
Elrohir looked around frantically, only now recognizing the various boulders laying around. He was perched on a narrow mountain trail with high walls on the left of him and a chasm on his right. Yet what really shocked him was the big unmoving mass in front of him.
Gradually, the young child realized who the white hair belonged to. “Asfaloth?” he asked in a whisper suddenly afraid that the big horse would spring up and shove him over the edge.
“Asfaloth?” He tried again but he got no reaction. It was then he realized that the faithful steed was dead. Tears welled up in his eyes. He loved horses very much and seeing the big horse like this pierced his heart.
With an already quivering under-lip, he tried to look past the horse. However, the unmoving body was blocking his view.
His heart sank. Again, he looked around. The last thing he remembered was a sudden loud bang, lightening, a rockslide and then…. nothing!
Elrohir’s eyes widened: a rockslide!
Bile rose in his throat as he carefully skidded to the edge of the ledge and peered into the chasm.
“Elladan, Glorfindel?” he called, yet the howling wind ripped the words from his mouth.
Receiving no answer, Elrohir sat back. Wiping tears and blood from his brow with his sleeve, he rose to his feet carefully and just as he wanted to call again an immense wave of emotions washed over him.
…pain, fear, irritation……
In shock, he stepped sideways. Pebbles and earth began falling away from the edge. Unconsciously, he leaned inward his mind fully concentrated on the jumbled thoughts from his brother. Without thinking, he sent comfort to his brother´s panicking mind.
Crawling again forward to the edge, he peered down. First, he saw nothing in the dark but after his eyes had adjusted, he could make out a ledge further down where two bodies were lying.
His breath hitched. “Elladan?” he cried.
When he received no answer, he called again. “Elladan, Glorfindel?”
Barely seeing, but clearly feeling his brother, Elrohir sobbed in relief.
“I´m up here. Are you alright?”
…. “I´m not sure. My leg hurts and…”
Elrohir could clearly feel his brother´s irritation. Even if not able to discern much in the dark, Elrohir did perceive what his brother was seeing. Glorfindel was lying on the same narrow ledge his brother was perching on and he was not moving.
´Please let him be alright´, he prayed.
Hearing his brother scrambling about in the dark Elrohir waited.
“Elladan is he ok?” he asked, his voice tinged with fear.
When his brother gave no answer, his heart began to pound quicker. Tears now freely streaming down his face he looked into the night sky.
´Ada, please help´, he sobbed, but his only answer was the howling wind. At least it had stopped raining.
Elladan crawled forward until he reached the still body. He grit his teeth whenever he moved, for a sharp pain shot up his shin. With a shaking hand, he touched the fair-haired elf´s shoulder.
Shaking a bit harder he tried again.
Again, no answer. A lump rose in his chest.
Squinting his eyes, he looked upwards. He could vaguely make out his brother crouching on the edge.
“Elrohir, Glorfindel is unconscious. He might be badly injured.”
“But he must wake up, how will we get out of here?”
Hearing his brother´s distress, Elladan swallowed. With his injured leg, he wasn´t able to ascend the steep cliff wall.
“I will come down to you,” his twin announced.
“Stay where you are, silly child.”
Elladan´s head whirled around. The warrior had opened his eyes.
“Glorfindel, you are awake,” he cried in relief.
The older twin slung both arms around his beloved mentor, yet when the elf did not react, nor even said a word, Elladan came back up and looked into the familiar face.
“Glorfindel?” he asked softly. He could clearly feel that something was seriously wrong.
The warrior briefly closed his eyes, still not moving.
“Elladan, you must listen to me very closely now.”
The elfling scooted closed. Glorfindel’s voice sounded weak and strained.
Elladan leaned in closer. The older elf´s voice was so soft he could barely make out the words.
“Elladan, you and your brother must be very brave now. I will not be able to help you. You two must go and find help….”
Elladan came back up.
…. “but we will not leave you….”
“Elrondion, stop and listen to me! You two have to get away from the cliff. The storm has lessened and you have a chance to leave the mountain. We are not far from the outer border of Imladris. The border guards will find you two.”
Breathless, the warrior closed his eyes. Elladan shook his head while tears were silently falling.
“But you are injured. I will not leave you. I will help you up. You have to come with us….”
At those words, the fair-haired elf smiled.
“Sweet child. I will go nowhere. I cannot even feel my feet, but you must go. You father is almost certainly searing for you two.”
Looking intently at the child in front of him, Glorfindel took a deep breath.
“Now go. The two of you will have a chance.”
Elladan scooted back in shock. He would never leave the injured elf´s side.
Reaching for the child´s tunic, the warrior gripped his fingers into the fabric.
“You have to go now! Leave me alone. Back off!”
Elladan scrambled back in shock. Never had his mentor shouted at him like that.
He leaned his head on the cool stone face and cried in despair.
To be continued……………………
Chapter 4: My Poor Children
Erestor’s head snapped up when the atmosphere in the room suddenly changed. He was sitting in a comfortable armchair in front of the fire reading a book – his means to still his agitated nerves.
Lady Celebrían was standing like a statue in front of the great window staring into the dark for hours. Despite several elves best attempts, nothing had convinced her so far to leave this spot.
Not that she had spoken a word, yet her posture had suddenly changed from tense to rigid, and her breathing had increased.
Erestor frowned, what had the first Lady perceived? Slowly rising, he walked to the window to peer out. The courtyard lay as deserted as before and nothing was indicating that this would change. The information had to come from another source then.
Erestor had only to look into his Lady´s face to know that something had happened and according to the tears streaming down her face nothing good.
“My Lady, what is wrong?” he asked in his most placating manner, yet to no avail.
The Lady of Imladris was whirling around and directing her blazing eyes at her husband´s councillor.
“What is wrong?” she cried. “I will tell you what is wrong. I will never see my children alive again. I should have never allowed them to go, but I know who has to answer for that.”
She gathered her gown and left the room in a rush. Seldom lost for words, Erestor stared after the she-elf speechless. He narrowed his eyes to slits. What in the name of the Valar was the meaning of this? The children were with Glorfindel and when something bad had happened to them, then Glorfindel was involved also. He would give his life to protect Elrond´s sons. The first Lady´s anger was misdirected.
Never one to question the means of the world, Erestor took his leave as well. A bad situation had obviously turned for the worst. He had to take action.
The irritated whinny of the Elf-lord´s horse caused Tinár to look up sharply. For hours, they had been riding through the night, only stopping long enough to read tracks or check direction.
The Elf-lord had halted his stallion rather roughly, and was now sitting perfectly still with his eyes closed. Tinár came alongside and looked at his senior healer intently.
Elrond had been highly nervous and agitated before, despite his best effort not to let it show, yet now he was literally quivering.
“Elrond?” Tinár asked softly, deliberately using the Elf-lord´s name despite his title in the hope to get through.
Long moments went by and still the Elf-lord did not stir. Tinár was just about to call again when the healer opened his eyes sharply. The young healer flinched at the raw emotions he could glimpse in his lord’s grey eyes. Elrond seldom let anyone witness such a private side of him.
“They are farther up the mountain than I hoped they would be. Further peril will come upon them, and without Glorfindel, they will be lost. We have to reach them quickly.”
Without a further explanation or word, the healer spurred his horse forward.
The young healer took a deep breath. He hardly wanted to explore what these words were meant to be.
Where had the Elf-lord this information from? Knowing that the Half-elf had the gift of foresight, Tinár followed instantly.
Elrond must have suffered a vision of some sort. Vision often appeared unclear and nebulous but the few uttered word let the young healer dread what they would find further up the mountain.
When Elrohir heard his brother cry, he leaned over the edge. “El?” he called. “Stay where you are, I will come down to you.”
Without waiting for a response, the younger twin got up and turned to round the body of poor dead Asfaloth. Searching frantically for Glorfindel´s bag, Elrohir found it half buried under the horse´s belly.
With a jerk, Elrohir pulled the bag loose, opened it and retrieved a long rope. Tying the rope around a boulder, he frowned when he realized it would not hold due to the wet stone. Looking around and finding no root in the dark, he decided to use the means he had. His eyes falling on Asfaloth, Elrohir tied the rope to the front leg of the horse, estimating that the poor beast would be heavy enough to hold his weight.
“I´m sorry, my friend, but I need your help,” he sobbed while tightening the knot.
He could barely make the knot because of the tears streaming down his face. Having to do this tore at his heart, but his brother and Glorfindel were down there needing his help, so….
Testing the rope one last time, Elrohir shoved his feet over the abyss and gripped the rope with all his might as it stretched taut until he was suddenly dangling over the chasm.
Holding his breath for a moment, Elrohir looked over his shoulder. Not seeing much in the darkness, he used his brother´s fëa guiding him to the right spot. Bit by bit he let his hands glide down the rope until his feet finally touched solid ground. For a few more moments he stood there, his flushed face leaning against the cold stonewall and his little feet shaking from exertion.
Elrohir jumped slightly as his brother´s voice startled him.
“Elrohir come over here. I need your help.”
Carefully relinquishing his hold on the rope, Elrohir crossed the distance and crouched next to his brother. After a quick hug, he directed his gaze at the still body of the warrior.
“Glorfindel, how badly you are hurt? Tell us and we can help. Ada taught us much.”
The warrior briefly closed his eyes. When he opened them, again he smiled.
“Of that I´m sure, my boy, but here you can do nothing. I cannot feel my feet; in fact, I can feel nothing below my torso, but I´m not in pain…”
Seeing the panic in the twins´ eyes, he quickly added.
“It´s ok. You two must leave. The quicker you arrive home and seek help the quicker we will all get out of here.”
“But…,” Elladan began, but seeing the angry shake of the older elf´s head, he stopped.
“Child listen to me. You two must leave. Any moment wind can come up and blow us from the ledge, or another avalanche can loosen. So, get up there and leave. Take Asfaloth; he knows the way home….”
Exhausted, the warrior closed his eyes.
Elladan swallowed. How could Glorfindel demand to leave him here alone, helpless as he was? He looked at his brother with pleading eyes.
“I cannot come with you either. My leg is broken and my side hurts awfully. You must take Asfaloth and go for help….”
“But I will not leave you two….” Elrohir said, his under-lip quivering.
Besides, how were they to get home without Asfaloth. Elrohir did not have the heart to tell his mentor that his beloved horse was dead.
Glorfindel pleaded once more, his voice holding such urgency.
“Child, please leave. With you sitting here, we have no chance. Asfaloth will protect and guide you. Your father is most certainly already searching.”
The golden-haired warrior gritted his teeth. He could in fact feel nothing in his lower body, however his upper body was in a great deal of pain – yet he vowed that the children would not know lest they refuse to leave.
Elrohir looked up into the dimness and nodded. Hugging his brother once more, he looked in his eyes with fierce determination.
“Stay with him. I will return with the whole of Imladris.”
Glorfindel closed his eyes in exhaustion. With a sinking heart, he heard the boys scrambling about in the dark. A lump was forming in his throat when he heard the boys saying farewells and the beginning of Elrohir ascending the cliff wall. He knew that this was their only chance to get help, yet Elrohir was only an elfling and he dared not think about what terrible dangers could happen to the child, apart from falling to his death.
Not to mention what could happen to a little elfling alone at the High Pass. With orcs roaming in the night, he shuddered as he thought about what those foul creatures would do if they got their filthy hands on an elven child.
Glorfindel would never forgive himself if the boys were hurt or worse.
His heart nearly stopped when Elrohir let out a cry followed by a slithering noise and raining pebbles.
Behind closed eyes, he saw the child plunge to his death.
He cursed his inability to help. He still had no feeling below his chest and the pain in this left arm was killing him. The double vision and his blinding headache did nothing to make the situation any better.
However, his heart begun to pound quicker when he couldn´t hear any sound after the stone avalanche had come to a stop and the calling of Elladan had quieted.
“Elrohir, are you alright?”
“He´s alright, Glorfindel. Elrohir just took a wrong step. Nothing happened,” Elladan explained while limping over.
Glorfindel closed his eyes. Despite his body feeling more and more cold he begun to sweat.
`Please Valar let this child be safe. `
To be continued….
Chapter 5: a child alone, an unreal dream and a bad ending
Elrohir grunted when he finally reached the top of the cliff, pulling himself over the rim he lay there panting hard. His hands hurt and pounded in league with his head, as he looked at them he could not detect with all the dirt if the wetness was blood or water.
The sun had already risen, and the rain had thankfully stopped. Yet, a stiff wind was still blowing making his wet clothes feel all the more uncomfortable.
Lifting his head, Elrohir looked to his right in the vain hope that the horse had stood up, but it still lay there unmoving. Sitting up, Elrohir removed the tears of frustration, pain, and sadness from his face unconsciously smearing it with dirt and blood.
Elrohir stood up and looked over the landscape. He turned into the direction of his home and sighed, knowing he had to get off the cliff face and down through the wood surrounding Imladris until he would finally reach its borders.
Even elven children had an innate sense of direction which did suit him now even if not consciously knowing it.
Before leaving, he searched again for Glorfindel´s bag. After retrieving it, he shook the items out: a water bottle – half-full -, a wrapped piece of dried meat and a small knife.
That was a start. Storing the items away again, Elrohir shrugged the strap of the bag over his head.
The last thing he needed to do was collect the rope. Kneeling, Elrohir loosened the rope around the horse´ leg and retrieved it from the cliff face.
After rolling the rope up and tucking it into the bag, his fingers smoothed the fur on the horse´s front leg where the rope had bit into the flesh.
`I´ll go now, brother. I will be back as soon as possible`.
`Take care little brother.'
Elladan lifted his head when he had heard a sound. At first, he did not know where he was. His memory, however, returned quickly when his feet shoved some pebbles over the edge of the ledge he was cowering on. He scrambled back and flattened his back at the rock face when he realized the sound he had heard was a moan.
“Glorfindel?” he asked while crawling alongside the warrior.
With cold and dirty fingers, the older twin smoothed a strand of hair out of the elf´s eyes. The warrior´s skin looked gray and felt cold to the touch. Glorfindel had his eyes closed but was licking his lips.
Elladan swallowed. “Are you thirsty?” he asked while looking around. He already dreaded the answer because all their supplies lay twenty feet above them.
“Do not bother, child. Please remain still lest you tumble to your death.”
Elladan wrinkled his brow. He was thirsty too, and his leg hurt still awfully – even if the sharp pain had now changed into dull throbbing.
Glorfindel sounded so dejected, a bit of water would help, he had only to find some.
“I will be back shortly,” he announced and shoved himself back until he had the full ledge for him to rise. This, however, was not a good idea. A sharp pain was shooting up his leg, up his spine and right into his brain. He cried out and fell back on his knees.
“Elladan? Are you ok?”
After taking a few steadying breaths, Elladan nodded until realizing his mentor could not see this.
“I´m alright. Don´t worry.”
A snort was his only answer.
While crawling forward, Elladan shoved smaller loose boulders over the edge to not have to round them. His hands and knees already hurt from crawling over the ground. He was just about to turn around when his eyes lit up. One step ahead lay a piece of bark, and it was filled with some water.
Grabbing it, Elladan carefully dragged it with him crawling all the way back this time backward. After endless moments, he had reached the warrior.
“Glorfindel, I´m back with water, look!”
The warrior opened his eyes and smiled.
“Thank you, child, but you first.”
“I have already taken some; it´s for you.”
The lie had come easily over his lips even when his throat felt parched. Hopefully, Glorfindel would not recognize it.
Kneeling next to the elf´s upper body he lifted the warrior´s head and nearly dropped the bark when his mentor let out a pain-filled cry followed by a pressed coughing. Elladan registered with horror that his tunic was now speckled with blood.
When the coughing stopped, Elladan tried again and lifted the warrior´s head – this time much more gently. Sip for sip he infused the liquid into Glorfindel´s mouth. Much too quick the bark bowl went empty.
Glorfindel had not said a word only closed his eyes again but this time a bit more relaxed, or so Elladan meant to observe.
The older twin looked into the sky and judged it was already late afternoon.
He laid down next to warrior, carefully not to touch the other´s ribs but nonetheless let him feel he was near. He rested his head on Glorfindel´s sprawled cape. Maybe he could retrieve the cloak under the body and cover the warrior with it?
Later, perhaps later. Now the elf was lying still and seemed to sleep. If only the wind would lessen.
Gratefully the throbbing in his leg subsided a bit. He felt so alone, without help, they would never leave this mountain alive.
`Please Elrohir hurry. `Ada, Nana, where are you? `
Exhausted he closed his eyes and fell into an uneasy sleep.
Glorfindel opened his eyes slowly. He was still lying on the ledge, some pebbles poking into his back. With his left hand, he groped for the child that had snuggled close to him only to make sure the elfling was still there. When his searching hand met thin air, he jerked upright.
Where was Elladan?
He sprung to his feet and looked right and left down the ledge – not much space a child could vanish too. Carefully he bent forward and looked over the edge, but his gaze could not pierce the darkness of the chasm. Valar, the child had not tumbled down while he had slept?
Carefully setting one foot in front of the other he walked to the left until the ledge ended abruptly. There was no sign of the elfling. Swallowing, the Elf-lord turned and walked into the other direction.
“Elladan?” he called, the wind ripping the word right from his mouth.
When he rounded a massive boulder, he stopped. Someone was sitting on the small prong, feet dangling over the abyss.
The strange being – it was no elf – wore a midnight blue ankle-long shirt held only by a small golden band in the middle. The long raven hair was cascading down the small of his back held in place by an elegant circlet. Despite the blowing wind, his hair was not moving.
Glorfindel took a deep breath. The presence of the being felt disturbing, yet at the same time comforting.
“Missing something?” The sonorous voice was not overly loud, yet it predominated the wind effortlessly.
The beautiful being turned his head and Glorfindel swallowed as he realized he was looking into the piercing gray eyes of Lord Namó.
He was suddenly aware the wind had stopped; in fact, he could hear no sound at all.
“My Lord Namó,” Glorfindel said while bowing, his voice sounding rough, “the elven child, Elladan. I cannot find him, my lord”.
The Lord of Mandos briefly closed his eyes. When he looked at the warrior again, Glorfindel was not sure how he should interpret the expression in those eyes.
“You have lost him. He´s not here, child.”
Glorfindel stepped back in shock.
“No! Please don´t. I´m responsible for him.”
The ancient being seemed unfazed by the desperate words, his gaze directed into the distance.
“Yet, you do nothing to help your charges.”
Glorfindel swallowed. “But I cannot move. I cannot leave this damned ledge….”
Glorfindel looked down and was suddenly aware he was standing. The numbness in his legs had vanished, and the piercing pain in his chest was no longer there – this had to be a dream or some sort of vision.
“Helping does not always mean moving, child. There are other ways to leave the cliff face. The elflings need your support Glorfindel.”
When the warrior looked up, the place before him was empty. From one moment to the other, the Vala had vanished. Glorfindel sunk to his knees. A pleasant smell of apples and lavender suddenly filled the air. So out of place and yet so welcome.
Before he knew what happened the howling of the wind was back, as was the pain in his ribs.
After many hours of walking, Elrohir stopped and looked around. The sun had already started its descent, and the temperature began to drop.
He decided to go on until the sunlight had vanished and then search for a place to spent the night. He had already left the mountain and was now wandering through the woods surrounding Imladris. He had never been alone at night. The trees gave him some comfort but at the same time frightened him.
When the light had faded, he chose the hollow base of a huge tree to crawl into. The nook provided at least shelter from the wind. He pushed his knees up to his chest and rested his chin on them, trying to ignore the loud rumbling in his stomach. Elrohir had eaten the dried meat from Glorfindel´s bag long ago.
´Ada, Nana, where are you. Please get me home. `
When he leaned back, he felt a probing in his mind – no words but an empathic whispering. Just as when Ada was easing a hurt or Nana comforting him after a fright; however, they were not here.
Looking up, Elrohir relaxed a bit when the tree welcomed his presence. Slowly he eyes glazed over…
…with a loud cry, he jerked awake. Elladan had fallen over the edge and plunged into the chasm.
No, no, no it was only a dream…
Panting to get his rapidly beating heart under control he was about to crawl out when the tree warned him.
‘…remain still, elfling… not safe…`
Elrohir froze when he heard growling followed by sniffing. He swallowed hard; it sounded like a big animal. Maybe he could pat it and then it would not bite?
Then he remembered last year when he had found a stray wolf puppy, and just as he wanted to lift it up, mother wolf had shown up and bit his hand. Only Ada´s quick reaction by snatching him away and making much noise had saved him from worse.
Afterward, Glorfindel had long lectured him that wild animals were only one thing – wild! Nothing to pet and nothing to play with and never, never get near a puppy!
When two glowing eyes appeared at the entrance, Elrohir closed his eyes and stopped breathing.
…go away… go away… go away.
Suddenly he heard a yelp, and the animal ran away.
Carefully he opened his eyes and waited. No more sniffs and growling. What happened?
…´It's ok child, just wait until sunrise…`
Taking up his former position, he sank again into a light sleep even with his stomach rumbling loud.
When Elrohir awoke, he felt the same probing in his mind. He poked his head carefully out of the tree base and not perceiving anything threatening he crawled out.
Again, rain clouds had gathered, promising rain. Patting the bark of the tree, Elrohir began walking. After some miles, he heard the sound of water running. Being immensely thirsty, he ran down a small bank and gratefully plunged his bottle into the clear water. Drinking his fill, Elrohir sat down at the small stream. Slowly he removed his shoes and dipped his toes into the water. He hissed at the coldness but welcomed the easing. After he had washed his face and hands, he discovered the long cut on his palm anew stinging from being touched.
Elrohir looked around and spotted some chamomile blossoms. Only the blossoms would ease the pain Ada had said. Plucking some, he squashed them and pressed them over the cut fastening his scarf around his hand.
When the stinging had eased, he closed his eyes.
´Elladan, are you alright? How´s Glorfindel faring?´
Even though he could clearly feel his brother, he received no answer.
`We are alright. I´m cold. Are you at home? `
`No, not yet. I´m hungry´.
`What is taking you so long? Asfaloth is swift! ´
Elrohir swallowed, and tears were again gathering in his eyes.
`What´s the matter, little brother? `
´Asfaloth is dead…´
Elrohir sniffed when first a mental outcry and then a hug reached him.
`Take care little brother and make haste. ´
“I will,” he said out loud.
With a sigh, the elfling rose and climbed the other side of the bank. When he had reached the top, he spotted a trail and followed it.
´Not far from the border… not far from the border…´
The sun had already sunken under the horizon, and the forest began to darken. Elrohir looked carefully left and right, but as much as the darkness deepened, his uneasiness grew. The towering trees did not give much comfort.
After hours of walking, he spotted a glow in the distance. A fire?
Quickening his pace, soon the warm glow of the fire came into sight.
His heart quickened when he saw some people sitting around the fire. Surely some border guards – people of ada.
Oddly the fire was immensely smoldering….
Before recognizing who was sitting around the fire a heavy hand was landing on his shoulder.
“Look, guys, what we have here. A little elfling. It seems our day will bring some fun still.”
Elrohir cried out in shock when he looked into the sneering face of an orc.
To be continued……………..
Chapter 6: Reunion and a sign
When the Lord of Rivendell held up his hand, Tinár who rode right behind him stopped his horse by a soft command.
Looking up at Elrond, he tried to read his expression, but his Lord gave no indication to what he felt; instead, he merely pointed ahead.
“It can´t be far. I can feel Elrohir’s fëa. He is close, and he´s in trouble and frightened.”
Before Tinár had a chance to comment the Lord of Imladris had already pushed his horse into a gallop, and the younger healer had no other choice but to follow. He was sure the three guards who rode behind him were close behind. The statement that his lord´s son was in trouble sent shudders down his spine.
The woods around here were dangerous for anyone but a child alone… Tinár refused to dwell on this thought further.
The last two days Elrond had let him witness the younger twin had left the cliff, had come down from the mountain and was now wandering the woods. A massive effort for a child so small. Apart from being scared, thirsty and hungry, the elfling fared well considering the circumstances. However, this could change from one moment to the other – to find him quickly was crucial.
However, the downplayed words that Elrohir was in trouble did not fool Tinár. He knew his senior chief healer much too long, and the terse statement did not indicate anything good – the child was in danger, and they had to hurry.
After half an hour, Tinár could smell the smoke from a poorly smoldering fire. One of the guards, Threlan, who had scouted ahead, was quickly coming toward them, approaching his lord.
“Hurry,” was all he said and Tinár frowned. What had they found?
A moment later, his question was answered, when he heard the unmistakable sneers of orcs nearby.
Just as quickly as Elrond and the guards, Tinár had readied his bow. He was a healer but nonetheless well trained with weapons, yet, knowing the three guards were behind them ready to strike was a big comfort.
When they heard the panicked cry of a child, there was no holding back. Right behind Elrond, Tinár entered a little clearing just ahead of them.
Elrohir was terrified. He had never seen an orc, yet the ugliness and the malice emanating from the large being towering over him paralyzed him with fear. The brute grabbed his collar and dragged him into the middle of the clearing. The orc pushed him, causing him to land hard on his knees just in front of the fire causing the smoke to sting his eyes. Just as he wanted to rise, another orc grabbed him and shoved him into the direction of a third orc. He never had the chance to regain his footing before another orc grabbed him and tossed him down. Before Elrohir could recover, he felt a heavy boot land on his back, and he was unable to suppress a small cry of pain.
“Hey guys, it looks as if our meal tonight will not be as meager as thought. A crispy little elfling, who would have thought?” one of the large orcs sneered.
The younger twin was shaking with sobs while being tossed around, yet despite his fright, he recognized the orcs were moving sluggishly.
At the next push, he dodged the hand grabbing after him and quickly left the circle running toward the nearby tree.
The tree sensing the child’s danger lowered its lowest branch allowing him to grab it. With a leap, he pushed himself up and quickly scrambled up the tree. The tree hurled its branches back up making sure no orcs could reach its precious cargo.
Elrohir did not stop climbing until he had reached the top. Only now, the orcs had recovered from their surprise and were now gathering around the base of the tree shouting and snarling at him.
Elrohir cowered down at the treetop and squeezed his eyes shut. Go away… go away… go away… he pleaded.
Carefully re-adjusting his position, he hoped the orcs would give up after a few minutes. As he curled his knees to his chest, he couldn’t help but feel a throbbing pain in his knee left knee from landing on a stone, and he felt blood trickle down his shin.
Suddenly the jeering and sneering stopped, and Elrohir dared to open his eyes only to feel fear rip through him once more: one of the orcs had retrieved a bow from his back and was just about to string an arrow.
Elrohir screamed as he realized what they were attempting to do. Instead of giving up on reaching him, they were going to shoot him down. Elrohir circled the treetop, but the orc followed his every movement.
´ADA! ´ he cried out mentally when the first arrow flew past him but near enough to ruffle his hair.
He flattened himself against the tree trunk hoping no other projectiles would reach him. When he heard the swish of a released bowstring, he closed his eyes. Luckily, the second arrow missed widely. Elrohir again changed his position but cried out when something large land on his leg.
Looking down, his eyes grew wide with horror when he realized the orcs were throwing burning timbers from the fire at him. Their aims were not very precise, although one great piece of burning wood had hit his right shin setting his pants aflame. He loosened one hand to put them out, but the flames had already scorched his skin.
Just as he had managed to extinguish the flames and was about to round the tree again a severe blow impacted his shoulder sending a blinding pain racing down his arm right into his fingers.
Elrohir released his hold on the tree reflexively and plunged down right into the middle of the cheering orcs.
When Elrond reached the clearing, his darkest fears had come true: orcs were attacking one of his children. He had just seen how Elrohir had fallen from the tree right in the middle of a band of orcs. Now his son lay motionless with a long dark arrow protruding from his shoulder.
Elrond quickly checked his bond with his child and swallowed relieved that Elrohir was only stunned from the fall; however, the impact on the ground had driven the arrow deeper into the shoulder, and the pain was mounting tenfold.
Without thinking, he dismounted in a fluent leap and shot the first arrow even before his feet had touched the ground. His gray eyes always straying to his motionless child on the ground, Elrond switched his bow for his sword and skewered the orc nearest to him. From the corner of his eyes, he saw Tinár racing into the clearing behind him and already bringing down the next orc.
Two of the guards were shooting from the trees and arrow after arrow found its goal. With relief, Elrond recognized Threlan was fighting alongside Tinár. He would need the healer´s assistance once they were done with the orcs.
The Lord of Imladris had just beheaded another brute when a pain-filled wail echoed through the air. Elrond froze and whirled around. The sound had pierced his heart like a glowing knife. With burning eyes, he searched the ground where Elrohir had lain -- the place was empty.
One of the remaining orcs had grabbed the elfling and holding him up in front of his breast; he pressed a knife to the child´s throat. Elrond could already see droplets of blood running down his neck.
Elrohir´s eyes were wide open too much in shock to cry.
`Do not move, ion-nín. I´m here.`
Elrond repeatedly sent the comforting words through their connecting bond willing the elfling to hold still.
One false move and the orc would instantly kill the child. A cut artery was something not even he could undo.
“Down with the weapons or I will kill this whelp,” the orc cried in halting Sindarin.
Elrond knew he had no choice but to surrender. The orcs had nothing to lose, and they would not hesitate to kill his son. In fact, more than likely unless he quickly came up with a plan they would all die.
With an obvious and clear gesture, Elrond lowered his sword and placed it in front of him. Tinár and Threlan followed instantly. With a flick of his eye, Elrond had recognized the two guards in the trees had drawn back their weapons still ready. With a curt command, he made sure they would not attempt to shoot the orc. Due to a reflex, he could still use his knife.
Elrond swallowed when he observed the still protruding arrow from his son´s shoulder and the burned skin at the elfling´s shin. Nonetheless while still speaking to his son telepathically, his attention was solely directed at the orc´s face: he saw panic and fear of death. This situation could at any moment snap out of control.
Just now Elrond felt the questioning probing of his wife demanding to know what was happening. He must have been careless for a second at guarding his thoughts allowing Celebrían to feel his anguish. Just what he needed right now. Nearly ruthless he closed his bond and shut her out. Now he had no ounce of concentration to spare. He knew he would have to do much talking, but he would not allow his wife to witness the possible death of their child.
Suddenly the orc shouted something in his foul language. Whatever it was, Elrond knew he had to act. He clearly saw the will to kill in the orc´s eyes.
Yet before he could act, a blinding light was suddenly illuminating the clearing. It was so bright he had to close his eyes momentarily. No sound could be heard. It was as if the world itself had stopped breathing.
His heart pounded wildly. What happened to the orc? If he panicked, Elrohir would be dead. One small strike would suffice to end his son´s life.
With much effort and nearly overwhelmed with fear for his child´s life, Elrond opened his eyes just a slit.
Elrond blinked. In the middle of the clearing stood a tall elf. He could not make out the elf´s face or what he was wearing. The only thing he recognized was the flowing golden hair. The elf´s body was wafting in the brightness and seemed to have no solid form. What let Elrond swallow were the blazing blue eyes, which appeared to spear the orc still holding Elrohir.
Elrond could not take his gaze from the figure – time seemed frozen.
The healer had no time however to digest the situation. A flurry of movements followed, and suddenly the orc was lying on the ground with two arrows protruding from his back. Where had the arrows come from? The elf had no visible weapon.
The elfling suddenly released from his hold slumped to the ground, but before he hit the ground, the radiant elf was instantly at his side guiding the boy gently to the floor.
Before Elrond could move, the tall figure turned, and the healer could have sworn the elf had winked at him. The face reminded him of… Glorfindel?
As suddenly as the elf had appeared, he vanished. The bright light faded and returned to normal.
Elrond blinked. He looked at Tinár and saw the same incredulity on the young healer´s face.
Elrond´s lips thinned when the guards made quick work of the three remaining orcs. The elves had seized the opportunity as the orcs were as spellbound as the elves.
Storing this moment away for later, Elrond moved swiftly over the clearing and knelt beside his son.
Elrohir had his eyes closed, and despite his wounds, he appeared to be sleeping. Elrond, however, was not fooled. The child´s breathing was much too shallow, and his complexion looked ashen.
Tinár dumped two big bags beside his lord and was already busy preparing what they would need to treat the injuries.
Reaching out, Elrond gently caressed his son´s face already sending healing energy into the small body. After a while, Elrohir opened his eyes; his gaze darting around frantically until he focused on his father´s face.
“Ada,” he whispered, and the sobbing quickly mounted into a full-fledged crying.
Seeing the elfling wanted to rise Elrond bent down and cupped his son's head in both of his hands.
“Shhh, Elrohir it´s over. I´m here now. You must remain still,” Elrond soothed.
While lulling the child´s mind in a semi-conscious state, Elrond already assessed the injuries.
“How can we be of help?” Threlan asked.
After the warrior had made sure all the orcs were dead, he and his two comrades had dragged the bodies to the edge of the clearing to give the healer space to work. They made sure Elrohir would not be confronted again with these brutes.
“I need a fire going and fresh water. Some boiling for tea would be handy,” Elrond ordered.
Threlan nodded, and his two fellow warriors took again position in the trees to protect the little clearing while Threlan started to do his lord´s bidding.
“First, we must retrieve the arrow,” Elrond announced and was already busy preparing his instruments from his bag. He washed his hands in a bowl Threlan had brought.
Tinár nodded. He had placed a woolen cloak under the elfling and was now cutting away the scorched pants to lay open the burned skin Elrohir’s shin. The child was moaning softly. The burned skin on the leg was undoubtedly more painful, yet the arrow had to come out first. Tinár knew why Elrond was demanding haste. Often the arrows were coated in poison and if this was the case, the quicker they could counteract the better.
“Poppy juice?” Tinár asked already holding a small flask with the painkiller in his hands.
Elrond nodded. “But not too much. We still need to find Elladan and Glorfindel.”
Tinár took a deep breath. They would find the other twin and the warrior eventually but with Elrohir´s help it would be much quicker. However, one step at a time.
Just as Elrond coaxed some of the sticky liquid into his son´s mouth, Elrohir´s eyes flew open. “Ada, Elladan is just down there on the ledge, his leg is broken… with, with Glorfindel… he´s badly hurt, cannot move… and Asfaloth… he´s dead and… and where´s Nana… I want Nana!”
Elrohir began to cry again. Again, Elrond dropped a few more drops of the sedating liquid into the elfling´s mouth.
“Shhh, Elrohir. We will help your brother and Glorfindel, but first, you have to calm down. Nana is waiting for you at home.”
Elrond imagined how angry his wife would be with him for shutting her out.
The half-elf sent a significant look at the young healer. His child was traumatized and half drugged. And the little information did nothing to set the healers hearts at ease. Elrond frowned at the description of Glorfindel´s injuries realizing they needed to find him soon before it was too late – if it already wasn’t.
When the poppy juice worked, and the child closed his eyes, Tinár moved opposite of Elrond and fixed the elfling by holding down his left arm and upper torso.
Elrond grabbed a small, sharp knife and cut away the child´s tunic to lay open the shoulder where the arrow was embedded. He made two small incisions left and right of the arrow shaft. Elrohir made a little whimpering noise, and Tinár fastened his hold to prevent the child from moving. When Elrohir had quieted again, Elrond quickly widened the cut with two fingers and pulled the arrow out. Gratefully it was not too deeply lodged into the bone.
Elrond looked intently at the arrowhead and Tinár hold his breath. `Please don´t let it be poisoned, ` he pleaded.
When Elrond tossed the arrow away while taking a deep breath, Tinár also released his breath grateful the wound was not tainted.
With practiced movements, the two healers stopped the bleeding, closed the wound and bound it.
While Elrond washed his hands anew, Tinár mixed a paste of herbs to treat the burning.
Elrond had taken a close look at the burned skin. Luckily, the burning was not very deep only resulting in a deep angry red skin already forming blisters but nonetheless very painful and radiating much heat.
Elrond was soaking a big roll of bandages in the cold mountain water and placed it over the burn marks. When the water touched the burn, Elrohir sighed as some of the heat was relieved.
They repeated this procedure a few times until Elrond wrapped the shin after placing a thick layer of herb paste on the leg. After checking the shoulder would not bleed again, he wrapped the elfling in the cloak and put him in his lap, his head resting on his thigh.
With a thankful nod, he accepted a mug of tea Threlan was offering him.
Tinár sat opposite of the small smokeless fire and cleaned the instruments in hot water simmering over the fire. Across he watched his lord and clearly saw the deep line on the healer´s brow.
Tinár knew exactly what thoughts were going through Elrond´s mind.
They had to bring help to Elladan and Glorfindel quickly, but what of Elrohir? Did they take him along or return him home first? Both options had many aspects to consider, but whatever they decided, they needed to decide fast.
Elrond´s eyes were closed, and he had placed his hand over his son´s heart. Both elves seemed to sleep, yet Tinár knew his lord´s mind was busy working.
This was proved correct a moment later when a sound of hoof-beats was heard coming quickly closer. Elrond´s eyes flew open. After he had gently placed his son´s head onto the ground, he took up his sword once more. Tinár blinked. Where had the healer got his weapon from this quickly?
Tinár and Threlan took a defensive position at the edge of the clearing while Elrond´s kept standing next to his son. The hoof-beats had nearly reached the edge of the clearing.
Tinár narrowed his eyes. This could be no orcs, yet there were so many other dangers abroad that he tightened his hold on his sword. Whatever was coming their way would find them in a very vulnerable position.
When the first rider broke through the underbrush, Tinár let out a cry of surprise.
To be continued……….
Chapter 7: Continuing on
Elrond narrowed his eyes when the first rider broke through the brush. He would have recognized this elf among thousands and not only because of his unique hair color.
Celeborn, Lord of the Golden Wood, was galloping into the clearing. Elrond´s eyes widened however when he espied his mother-in-law just behind her husband followed by an entourage of six warriors as well as an elf driving a large wagon.
Elrond kept standing next to his injured son, yet bowed when the royal couple was dismounting. Even if both wore travel clothing, they looked magnificent. Celeborn had a silver lined tunic over black leggings while Galadriel wore — as always — a bright white tunic over leggings the same color.
The six warriors fanned out at once and joined their comrades from Imladris in the trees.
The elf driving the wagon stopped and only now, Elrond recognized him as Haldir, foster son of Lord Celeborn and Lady Galadriel.
Celeborn instantly walked toward Elrond while his gaze analytically scanned the sleeping boy on the ground. Galadriel joined Haldir at the wagon and gave her instructions.
“A star shines on the occasion of our meeting,“ Celeborn said placing a hand over his heart.
“It has been too long, Elrond Peredhel, even if I had wished for happier circumstances.”
“Well met, Celeborn, the same applies to me. Even if my heart rejoices in seeing you, I wonder how you discovered our dire situation.”
The Elf lord's gaze became suddenly piercing, and Elrond held his breath.
“Let´s say we received a sign and deemed it necessary to come to your aid even if thou hast not called for it, Eärendilion.”
The slight reprimand of the Lady of light didn´t go unnoticed by the Lord of Imladris but now was not the time to discuss this. Elrond stored the information how the couple was informed to bring help, away for later. This was a story he wanted to hear.
While Galadriel was kneeling beside Elrohir, Haldir came over and greeted the Elf-lord.
“Well met, Master Elrond. We have brought rescue equipment and other supplies we deemed helpful. It´s all ready for your disposal.”
“Thank you, Haldir. I´m glad for the additional equipment. Elrohir´s report about the state of his brother and Glorfindel sounded grave, and an extra pair of hands are very welcome.”
Celeborn nodded and greeted Tinár.
Galadriel looked up.
“And you will need them. I will stay here with Elrohir. My husband and Haldir will continue with you.”
This was a statement and not a bidding. Elrond looked momentarily irritated; however, he was glad for the unexpected support. He had already wondered how he have managed to come to his other son´s and Glorfindel´s aid with an already injured child to care for.
Seeing the lines on the Half-elf´s face, Celeborn placed a comforting hand on the healer´s shoulder.
“We are here to help, son. Elrohir is in the best of hands, and you have your head free to accomplish the rescue mission.”
Elrond took a deep breath.
“You are right, forgive my reticence. I´m glad I can leave Elrohir in your capable hands, my lady,” he said with an incline of his head toward the Lady of light.
“However, we should continue. It´s already been four days since the incident.”
Celeborn nodded, and with Haldir, he went toward the wagon to store what things he deemed necessary on two further packhorses. With the three laden mounts from Imladris, they possessed a decent number of required items hopefully sufficient to bring quick aid.
Elrond knelt beside his son one last time and placed a hand on his brow and one on his chest. The child fared well according to expectations. He nonetheless poured healing energy into the little body and sent his son into a further healing sleep.
It did not sit well with him to leave his injured child behind, but with the appearance of the Lothlórien elves, the situation was much more acceptable now.
Elrond rose and started when he felt Galadriel´s breath right next to his ear.
“I will take good care of your son, Elrond. Go now and bring back your other son and this infuriating elf you call your counselor. Don´t worry about us, in the meantime; I will be busy to placate my furious daughter.”
Elrond whirled around and noticed a reprimand, but when he looked into the ice blue eyes of his mother-in-law, he only saw concern and understanding. Marginally he relaxed.
“Thank you,” he said and turned toward the waiting elves of Lothlórien and Tinár, which were already mounted.
With a last look at his son, the Elf-lord spurred his stallion onward closely followed by Celeborn, Tinár, and Haldir.
Chapter 8: get off the mountain and changing plans
Elrond held up his hand and the three elves riding in single file behind him stopped their mounts by soft commands. At some distance, the guards were covering their rear making sure nothing would sneak up on them from behind.
Tinár riding right behind his senior healer craned his neck to see the reason for the sudden halt.
Instantly he stiffened.
In front of Master Elrond just around a bend was a crouching mountain lion swishing his tail and barring his teeth.
Elrond put forth much effort to still his skittish mount. The lion was ready to pounce. Celeborn had come alongside of Tinár, taking a deep breath when he espied the irritated wild beast.
Just what they needed. A further delay.
The mountain trail was much too narrow to forego the animal. Celeborn tried to look past the lion. Normally mountain lions were very shy and avoided any contact. Why was this one so upset?
`Maybe it´s a mother protecting her pups?´ Tinár said softly not to irritate the beast further.
`Or defending some prey.` Elrond mused while carefully dismounting.
“Elrond, be careful……..” Celeborn had no chance to finish his sentence.
Just when the Half-elf´s feet had touched the ground, the lion pounced knocking the dark-haired elf to the ground. Elrond´s mount reared up and crashed one hoof of a hind-leg into the lion´s back.
Howling with pain the beast let go of the healer and while tunnelling Tinár´s and Celeborn´s horse gained his refuge in running.
Haldir were just able to manoeuvre his horse out of the way when the lion flew past him taking flight.
“Let me see,” Celeborn said while kneeling beside his son-in-law.
Elrond was just sitting up and grimaced while holding his upper arm.
“It´s nothing,” the healer ground out between gritted teeth. He tried to rise.
“Keep sitting, Earendilion and let me see.” Elrond looked up irritated at the stern tone.
“How will you proceed with this arm?” Celeborn said already cutting away the sleeve of the tunic. A long deep scratch was running from the upper arm to the elbow.
“We have to hurry, we are already there…..”
“Yes and if you stop complaining and let me bandage this than we will be on our way shortly.”
Celeborn nodded his thanks when Tinár was handing him a thick roll of bandage.
“I fear this needs stitching,” the younger healer said after inspecting the wound.
Celeborn looked up and nodded. Haldir was busy placating the still skittish mounts. He manoeuvred them out of the way.
“Yes, but for now I will tightly wrap it until I have more space to work.”
“I´m a healer too, you know,” Elrond growled. “And I say this is enough.”
Celeborn finished his wrapping with a tight knot.
“I have treated more wounds on the battlefields of this world than you will ever see, my son. We will address this when I deem it necessary.”
Celeborn stretched out his hand after rising himself and carefully hoisted the Half-elf to his feet. Tinár narrowed his eyes when the healer rested his forehead for a minute at the flank of his horse.
“Elrond, are you alright,” he asked with concern.
“We are near but I can barely reach Elladan and he is not responding. Something is very wrong. Can we be on our way now?” The eyes of the Half-elf were blazing and Tinár nodded.
The Master healer mounted but Tinár wowed by all the urgency he would have a close eye on his Lord.
Instantly the four elves resumed their way.
Not half an hour later Elrond again stopped the procession by holding up his hand. Tinár closed up to look past the healer and gasped.
Just in front of them lay the dead body of a great white horse. Instantly Tinár knew that this could only be Asfaloth.
“By the Valar…..” the young healer muttered.
Now he remembered that Elrohir had told them that Asfaloth was dead but no one had really listened in the urgency to help the child. Now the words had become sadly true just before their eyes.
Elrond was dismounting and slowly nearing the dead horse.
“Now we know what the lion was defending,” Celeborn said and Tinár swallowed. He clearly saw the bite wounds on the horse´s flank. However, the lion must not have had much time. They had disturbed him early.
Haldir had come up to them.
“An avalanche must have come down on them and……” the March warden pointed upwards but stopped when Elrond knelt down and looked over the rim.
“Elladan, Glorfindel?, he cried loudly.
When an avalanche had killed the horse and swept the younger twin and Glorfindel down the cliff….his eyes widened at the implications.
“Elladan, it´s Ada, I´m here, answer me child. Glorfindel…?” Elrond called again but just like before only silence was the answer.
“Hold me,” Celeborn said and Haldir had just a second to grab his Lord´s waist belt before the silver-haired elf bend forward to have a better look.
“I can see a ledge half way down and if I´m not very much mistaken I can make out two…..bodies.”
When he got no response, he looked sideways at the healer. He placed a comforting hand on his son´s-in-law´s arm.
“Your bond with Elladan is intakt and Glorfindel would not dare to sneak from this world. We will get them up. I promise you.”
Elrond nodded and both elves crouched back on their heels.
“I will go down with Tinár……, Elrond begun.
“……and I will come with you,” Celeborn interrupted the healer´s words.”
Elrond looked at the father of his wife intently, absently rubbing his upper arm.
“No Celeborn. In all likelihood, Elladan and Glorfindel are injured. I will need Tinár´s assistance and then two strong pair of hands to hoist us up. I need you up here to come up with some sort of a litter we can use to pull at least Glorfindel up. Elladan I will carry on my back.”
Celeborn nodded, his mind already working on a plan to get the two injured back up into safety.
“What about your arm?” Tinár asked.
He already prepared himself for an angry retort but Elrond only took a deep breath.
“It has already stopped bleeding and I will not put too much strain on it.”
With that, the healer turned and already grabbed the rope Haldir had secured on a boulder.
“Oh yes, while going down a mountain and pulling up you will not put strain on that arm, sure…” Tinár muttered.
“Have you said anything, Tinár?” Celeborn asked.
The younger healer only scowled. Like Elrond, he had shouldered a big bag with all utensils they deemed necessary. He grabbed the second rope.
“Let us go down there and then I will stitch this wound and when Lord Námo personally is sitting there!”
Despite the graveness of the situation, Celeborn had to smile.
“What is the meaning of this commotion in the crack of dawn?” Erestor asked a servant hasting by.
The servant stopped only briefly shrugging his shoulders and was quickly out the front door.
Erestor narrowed his eyes.
The administrator of the Last Homely House was an early riser but this activity was unusual. He had now seen the third kitchen servant hastening down the hall and hurriedly leaving into the courtyard.
Had he missed something?
He followed the staff member out the door and stopped in his steps as soon as he had left the house.
Lady Celebrían was standing next to her horse checking some bags already tethered to the back of the mare. Four guards and two further pack-horses were waiting dutifully.
Erestor raised an eyebrow.
He had not been aware that the first lady had planned to leave the valley. And surely, he had not been informed.
He cleared his throat die gain the she-elf´s attention.
“All is prepared, Erestor. I´m ready to leave.”
The wife of Lord Elrond had whirled around before Erestor had been able to say a word.
“This I can see, my Lady. And you wanted to tell me about this when?” he asked in a careful neutral tone.
Her eyes were blazing.
“I do not need your permission and you will surely not stop me,” she answered her tone irritated.
Erestor made a step forward his eyes never missing eye contact with his Lady.
“Of course you need no permission, my Lady, but my last impression was that your husband wished for you to stay home and keep contact. We should be prepared when he returns.”
She took also a step toward the councillor. She spoke softly only for him to hear.
“My dear husband has shut me out, so much for keeping contact. But I have my own bonds with my children and know that Elrohir needs me now.”
Some dispute further than the one at the departure of the healer must have taken place. He did not have to be a mind reader to imagine what had happened. Yet, too much pieces of the puzzle were missing for him to piece the picture together.
Why did she only speak Elrohir, what about Elladan? Her words made only partially sense. He knew he had to act quickly.
“My Lady, I understand your motives but please will you rethink your plans? Four guards are much too less to guarantee for your safety.”
Again, the First Lady whirled around.
“My children need me now, Erestor. I will go alone if necessary.”
Erestor took a deep breath.
“No you will not. I´m responsible for your safety, Celebrían and I will be dammed to let you leave with such poor preparations.”
Anger was rolling in waves from the she-elf. Erestor could see her bristling. He readied himsef for a fight.
“How dare you…..,, Celebrían begun but stopped suddenly. She closed her eyes and listened. After long minutes she opened them again Erestor was surprised to see tears glistering. He was sure that some sort of communication has taken place.
“Erestor, I´m sorry. I know you mean well but I have to go to my children. They need their father to heal their injuries, yes, but they also need their mother. Some hurts can be healed only with a kiss.”
Erestor blew out his breath. Now she had done it – broken through his resistance.
“My Lady give me three hours and I will prepare all necessary for you to travel to your children´s aid and arrive there alive.”
The reprimand did not go unnoticed by the daughter of Galadriel, nonetheless she nodded her consent.
“Thank you Erestor, but please make hast.”
“I will my Lady. Latest at noon we will be on our way.”
“We?” she asked with a raised eyebrow.
“Yes we. I make sure that you will arrive alive and I will avoid your husband´s wrath that would descend upon me would I let go you alone.”
With that, the councillor turned and heeded back into the house to make his preparations.
The uncounted time Galadriel wiped her grand-son´s forehead. The boy was glowing with fever. All remedies she could think off she had tried but Elrohir did not respond. At the contrary, his wounds seemed more inflamed, his fever had risen and even the burn marks on his leg seemed more angry.
Absentmindedly caressing Elrohir´s black hair, the Lady of Light directed her gaze into the distance. She assumed that the boy´s condition did not only come from his bodily hurts. She knew that the twins were very close and when separated they were linked through their bond on an emotional level only few could comprehend.
Likely Elladan was hurt too and Elrohir would feel it as keenly as his brother – not really conductive to his own health, but this was their nature.
Additionally Elrohir was missing his parents. Even if Galadriel did have powers to reach and heal a wounded soul, a parent´s touch even she could not replace. Her son-in law had this magnificent gift to send healing power with a simple caress. Her grandsons had often told her that only a caress from Ada had made them better.
And, of course the twins did miss their mother. As excited they had been to be on this trip, they were still very small elflings, which did now show very obvious. A mother´s touch Galadriel could also not provide. She could only act in their stead.
It was paramount that at least one parent should be here with their wounded son and so Galadriel had consented with her daughter to make the journey. Elrond would not be happy and Galadriel knew about the already brewing conflict but the welfare of the children was more important as any quarrel. She would make sure of that.
Galadriel started when Elrohir let out a keening wail. The child´s upper body came up and frightened eyes looked at her uncomprehendingly.
“ADA, NANA" was all he cried before his little body slumped back on the pallet.
Galadriel checked for a pulse and took a deep breath when she found one but recognized that the boy was now unconscious.
Extending her senses outward Galdriel tracked the guards and when she was sure that no evil was lurking she place her right hand lightly over the child´s heart. Centring her thoughts, she called forth the power of the Ring.
A soft glow enveloped the child and wrapped the little body like a cocoon. Time seemed frozen.
`Hurry Celebrían, hurry Elrond´ Galadriel thought before she rested her head next to the child´s.
To be continued………………………
Chapter 9: A difficult endeavor
While Elrond carefully climbed down the rope, he shuddered inwardly when he saw the sharp jutting rocks and the rough surface. It was a wonder anyone had survived this fall at all. Carefully the elf-lord rechecked his bond with Elladan. The connection was weak like before, yet the child was alive. The healer regretted he could not reach Glorfindel in the same way.
As much as he wanted to fly down the cliff, he had to restrain himself. Tumbling into the abyss due to a thoughtless step or acquiring another injury would not help matters. His arm was already paining him much, and the cut felt as if it was on fire. He grimaced as if he had expected otherwise.
Elrond’s heart pounded in his chest when he tried to imagine how Elladan and Glorfindel were swept down this steep incline. Nothing but bare, cold rock with no means to stop the descend and yet a small ledge had been there to save their lives.
He risked a quick glance upward. Tinár — not two feet above him — fared well. He avoided looking down. Elves were free from giddiness, yet he always had disliked heights. It could not be far now. Elrond closed his eyes when another small avalanche of pebbles rained down on him.
Suddenly a sharp pain emanated from the cut in his arm, and he opened his fingers reflexively. Surprised and shocked he slithered down the rope a good deal until his feet hit the ledge. He dropped to his knees with a grunt.
Celeborn´s voice held a hint of panic.
“Elrond, are you alright?”
Hearing the worry in his father-in-law´s voice, the healer took a deep breath.
“I am alright. Nothing happened,” he called back while coming to his feet and dusting off his pants. A loud snort was his only answer. Huffing irritably, he knew he had to deal with this damn wound sooner or later.
The dark-haired elf looked up.
“Tinár it is not far now, you are almost there,” he called. The younger healer nodded and quickly finished the last steps. Elrond waited until Tinár had reached the ledge.
Elrond gathered his bag and turned before the young healer had a chance to say anything. Knowing what Tinár wanted to say, he briskly ignored the critical look of his colleague.
As he rounded a bend, he quickened his steps. Just ten feet away he espied Glorfindel and Elladan. The golden-haired warrior was laying on his back and the elfling in the crook of his arm — neither was moving.
Elrond frowned, they must have heard the commotion and shouts they had made.
His heart went out to his child. He could well imagine how afraid the boy must have been. First the shock of the fall, then sitting here several days and nights injured and with no one to make him better. By the look of Glorfindel, he had not been able to comfort the child which caused Elrond to worry, even more; he knew how much his friend cared for his children and would not just let them suffer.
While walking forward, Elrond directed a wary glance toward the abyss. There was not much room for working. Dropping his bag, he knelt next to the injured elves. Tinár close behind did the same and was already rummaging through their bags.
“Elladan?” he called softly while reaching out to the child. To his dismay, he had noticed the blood stains on the right pant-leg of the elfling.
Elrond felt for a pulse, and although he knew it was there, he let out a breath of relief when he found one, albeit a bit quick but that was to be expected. What troubled him more was the lack of response.
“Elladan?” he called again.
Caressing the elfling´s cheek, Elrond tapped lightly with his index finger. Feeling that the boy was slowly coming around, he mentally repeated his call.
Guiding his son´s fëa from the depth of unconsciousness, the boy began to stir. Elrond removed his fingers and placed them on Glorfindel´s neck.
The warrior´s complexion worried him immensely. The skin looked gray and felt cold to the touch, and he could barely feel a pulse. A weak and faint pounding was the only evidence that the warrior still lived.
With his concentration still on his son, he was already pouring healing energy into the still body of his friend.
“Ada?” Elladan was just opening his eyes. After blinking, he focused on the familiar face.
Elrond smiled and concealed the worry in his eyes.
“I am here, my son. You must not be afraid. We are here now to help you. See, there is Tinár.”
The healer leaned over Elrond´s shoulder and waved at the elfling.
“Well met, Elrondion,” he said smiling for the benefit of the boy. The ledge was too small to kneel beside the older healer.
Before Elrond could react, Elladan tried to raise up but instantly fell back with a cry. Elrond, partly still focused on the warrior, quickly placed a restraining hand on his son´s shoulder
“Shhh, Elladan do not move. I will just have a look at your leg.”
Placing the palm of his hand on the boy´s forehead, the elfling stilled somewhat as silent tears cascaded down the round cheeks.
“Here,” Tinár said and handed the healer a small sharp knife. The younger healer directed a critical look at the warrior. He refrained from commenting however not wanting to upset the boy further.
Nodding his thanks, Elrond carefully cut away the pants. The revealed leg looked swollen and inflamed. Elrond felt along the limb and detected a break just at the middle of the shin. Gratefully no bone had penetrated the skin. Nonetheless, sinews and ligaments were damaged enough to cause much pain not to mention the break itself.
Elrond moved back a bit, but his feet went dangling over the chasm. He grimaced and looked to his right irritated.
“I will take him, my lord, so you will have space to work on Glorfindel,” Tinar offered.
He saw the conflict of the Master healer. He wanted to care for his son, yet Glorfindel was in a much worse shape and needed Elrond´s full attention.
“Ada, I want to go home, where is El?”
Huge tears were still streaming down the child´s face.
Elrond took a deep breath. He made a quick decision.
“Elladan, Tinár will make your leg better, and then we will be on our way home. Your brother is well and waiting for you.”
The elfling nodded, and Elrond carefully lifted the boy from the ground and handed him in the outstretched arms of the younger healer. Tinár had already spread a blanket on the ground and was now placing his small patient on it.
“Here we are, now let us look at how we can make your leg better, shall we?” Tinár kept his tone light.
Elladan nodded again. The tears had stopped, but he pressed his lips into a thin line. He had known the younger healer since his birth and trusted him readily. Nonetheless, his eyes never left his father. Tinár had placed the elfling such that he could always see his Ada.
After a last glance at his son, Elrond returned his attention back to the warrior.
“Glorfindel? he called while lightly patting the others cheek. Not expecting a reaction, he tried again.
“Glorfindel?” Concentrating on the warrior´s fëa, Elrond stopped his efforts when he recognized that the elf was deeply unconscious. This would cost him too much of his strength.
The healer began to examine his friend. To his surprise, he at first could not make out any injury. He noticed several cuts and bruises on the hands and arms and a bump on the forehead, but nothing that would warrant his friend’s condition. However, when he began cutting away the elf´s shirt, he frowned. — there were speckles of blood all over.
Elrond inhaled sharply when the shirt fell away. The whole right side of the upper torso was a massive black-blue bruise and swollen to the extent that was more than worrisome. Elrond betted that two — if not more ribs — were broken. And, if that was not bad enough, one of the ribs had punctured a lung. This would explain the blood blotches on the shirt.
Carefully, Elrond felt around the neck and was relieved to find no more breaks or damaged bones. Still, the deep unconsciousness troubled him. His injuries were severe but did not justify this total lack of response.
Briefly, Elrond remembered Glorfindel´s apparition at the clearing where the orcs had attack Elrohir. Maybe this action had cost the warrior too much energy?
Elrond wondered how long the warrior had been lying in this position. Calculation on the marks on the skin Elrond feared Glorfindel had not changed his position since the fall. This was untypical. Even severely injured patients tried to get into a more comfortable position. Glorfindel had not even tried to change anything. Feeling around more, Elrond felt something pointy and hard. Carefully pulling it out from under Glorfindel’s back he gasped when he realized it was a small sharp rock.
Elrond swallowed and briefly closed his eyes. This did not bode well at all. Placing his ear over the warrior´s torso, Elrond grimaced when he heard deep rattling noises on the one side and nothing on the other side: the lung was definitely damaged.
The Lord of Imladris looked up. Down here, he would not be able to achieve anything. They had to bring Glorfindel up to safer ground and in a more controlled area. Here with the non-existent room for working, the dirt and the inadequate supplies he could do nothing.
“Tinár, how are you progressing?”
“I am finished, my lord. The leg is stabilized and bandaged, and I have given him a bit of the poppy juice for the pain. I have cleaned all cuts and applied ointment on the bruises.”
Elrond nodded in appreciation. He glanced at his drowsy son and then back at Glorfindel.
“I will take Elladan up and come back down with a litter. There is nothing more I can do down here. I wish for you to stay with Glorfindel.”
Tinár nodded. He knew to argue with his senior healer was futile, and they were running out of time. He could also take the elfling up, but he was aware that Elrond would not surrender his son. Nonetheless, he had to try again.
“Elrond, please let me have a look at your arm. I will at least re-bandage it and wrap a stronger hold.”
When the irritation of the healer grew Tinár quickly added:
“Elrond on the way down you nearly lost your hold. Another pain attack can happen anytime, and you do not wish to lose your hold in the middle of a cliff wall with your son on your back, right?”
The older healer briefly closed his eyes and blew out his breath. He nodded.
“You are right, but hurry.”
Tinár nodded relieved and quickly grabbed a bandage. Rolling up the other´s sleeve, he inhaled when he had cut away the soiled dressing. The cut was gaping open, the tissue around puffy and inflamed. He refrained from directing a significant look at the healer. Elrond was expert enough to know that this needed further treatment than bandaging.
Quickly and carefully, Tinár cleaned the dried blood and pus away before applying a very tight bandage around the upper arm. Elrond tested the result and nodded.
“Thank you. As soon as we are up there and all is settled, I will let you stitch it, all right?”
“Please be careful nonetheless.”
Elrond looked upwards.
“I will come up with Elladan. Then I will take Glorfindel on a litter. He is critically injured and down here I cannot do much for him.”
“Understood. Call when you are ready.”
Elrond crouched down.
“Place Elladan on my back, please.”
Tinár bent down and scooped the boy into his arms, mindful not to bump the outstretched splinted leg. The pain-killer had apparently work. Elladan only grimaced.
Tinár placed the boy on the healer´s back. The elfling slung his arms around his father´s neck.
“Ada, I will fall,” Elladan suddenly shrieked in near panic.
Elrond took a deep breath and stopped his movements.
“Elladan, do not be afraid. I am here. I will not let you fall, do you hear me?”
The elfling sobbed even harder.
“Glorfindel said the same, and he could not hold me. He let me fall.”
Elrond turned his head to look into his son´s frightened eyes.
“Elladan, this was an accident. Glorfindel had no chance to hold his promise. This is planned. Listen, Tinár will secure you with a rope, and you have nothing other to do than to swing your arms around my neck. I will advance the cliff, and Daerada Celeborn is securing us from above. You see, nothing can happen. Uncle Haldir is also waiting for you up there.”
Elladan nodded reluctantly and buried his head in his father´s neck.
“That is right, Elladan. Hold as tight as you can,” Elrond instructed. Elladan nodded again and tightened his hold.
Tinár had already slung a rope around the healer´s middle, which Elrond was knotting in front of his breast. Another rope came around his hips securing the legs of the elfling and cushioned the rope with a blanket. He checked once more if the elfling was safe and the injured leg secured.
“All ready,” he said softly, and Elrond pulled on the rope.
“Up,” he called and instantly the rope went taut. Tinár stepped back to give the healer space to ascend.
Elrond just lifted his left foot and pressed his boot against the wall when he heard a choked cry.
Quickly he placed his food back on the safe ground and turned with dread.
Below the right foot of the young healer, part of the ledge was breaking away. The younger elf flailed his arms and tried to get back his balance. When he slithered over the rim he tried to grab anything but the shelf was smooth, no roots or juts he could grab.
Elrond had instantly dropped to his knees and reached out a hand, yet it was too late. The younger healer had already slithered over the edge. Elladan tightened his grip and was nearly choking his father. The elfling screamed in terror and pain when his leg bumped on the ground while his father tried to reach the falling elf. He was crawling forward on his hands and knees.
Celeborn fell back on his behind when the rope suddenly went slack. He looked up at Haldir standing right beside him with trepidation. At this moment, they heard Elrond´s panicked call after Tinár and the screaming of Elladan.
Haldir reached out a hand and hoisted his foster father up.
“By the Valar,” he breathed and stopped at the edge of the abyss. Celeborn swiftly followed.
“Elrond? Elrond what happened?” the Lord of the Golden wood called.
Both fair-haired elves waited for a response, but nothing came.
“Elrond?” Celeborn tried again this time louder.
Again, no answer.
The commotion they had heard had stopped, only the screaming of Elladan was drifting up.
“I will go down there,” Haldir announced. Not waiting for affirmation the younger elf grabbed the rope and swung over the brink.
“Inform me,” was all, Celeborn called after his son.
To be continued…
Chapter 10: over the edge
Galadriel started when someone was gently tapping on her shoulder. Her eyes focused and she blinked.
“My lady, someone is nearing the camp.”
The warrior inclined his head and left the tent Galadriel had rested in next to her grandson. She quickly checked the state of the boy and nodded satisfied when she detected at least no deterioration. Elrohir was sleeping deeply, his face still flushed from the fever.
She stretched and rose. Galadriel had in fact fallen asleep after she had called on the power of Nenya. She straightened her clothes and stepped outside the tent.
The guard, who had woken her, stood to the left and she sensed the other guards near or in the trees. She directed her gaze toward the edge of the little clearing.
I greet you, my daughter. I am glad you arrived well, she addressed the words mentally at Celebrían, riding in front of her entourage.
And I am happy to be here, Naneth, she silently replied back.
Not ten minutes later the Lady of Imladris, another dark-haired elf, and four more guards were entering the clearing.
Celebrían dismounted and walked straight toward her mother. With narrowed eyes, she looked around.
“Where´s Elrond and Adar?” she asked.
Galadriel looked at her daughter intently. She felt the tension emanating from her.
“Will you not introduce me to your travel companion?” Galadriel asked her voice still light.
“Where are my children, Naneth?”
The sharp command caused the wife of Elrond to flinch.
“Forgive me, Naneth. This is Lord Erestor, chief administrator of Imladris.”
The dark-haired elf had dismounted too and moved next to the elleth.
“May the sun shine on the hour of our meeting, Lady Galadriel.” Erestor bowed lightly.
“Well met, Erestor, your reputation precedes you. I am glad you accompanied my daughter on her way over the mountains. I am glad there is still one cool mind present.”
Celebrían raised an eyebrow whereas Erestor´s face stayed expressionless.
Galadriel ignored the impatient breath from her daughter. She turned her attention back to her.
“I have sent your Adar to accompany your husband to bring Elladan and Glorfindel into safety.”
“Elrond is not here?” Celebrían cried her hands clenching.
“Elrohir is injured, and Elrond left him alone?”
Galadriel´s eyes narrowed ever so slightly.
“Elrohir is not alone; I am here. Elrond and your Adar are just bringing your other son back. Glorfindel is in dire need of help also.”
Celebrían´s eyes blazed. “He is the source of all this mess here. He will have to answer to me.”
With that, the First Lady turned and walked toward the only tent at the clearing. She ducked inside and closed the flap.
Erestor turned and begun unloading the pack-horses. He intended to build up a functional camp until the healers, and the Lothlórien elves would arrive. Elrond would need and appreciate it as soon as he was back. To care for two injured children and possibly an injured Glorfindel would take all his attention.
When Galadriel entered the tent, her daughter was bent over her son caressing his flushed face. With a critical look, she looked her child over.
“What happened to my child?” she asked when sensing her mother.
Galadriel sat next to the low pallet.
“As far as I have learned, Glorfindel and the twins were surprised by unexpected weather. An avalanche dragged Glorfindel and Elladan down a cliff. Elrohir was fortunate to stay on the mountain. He wandered toward home where Elrond and Tinár met him halfway. I do not know any more yet.”
The other half of the story I will tell you in due time, Galadriel thought. Celeborn was regularly reporting to her on their progress.
During the short report, Celebrían had first paled, but now her face was flushed. She took a deep breath.
“And how has my son acquired these injuries when he was so fortunate not to be affected by the avalanche, Naneth?” Celebrían was pointing at the elfling´s thickly bandaged shoulder and shin.
Galadriel took a deep breath.
“I understand your frustration, but I do not appreciate your tone. Leave this tent.”
Celebrían flinched. Her mother´s reply was calm and soft, yet her tone icy. She had overstepped a line.
“Leave. You son needs your support, not your anger.”
Celebrían pressed her lips into a thin line and rushed out of the tent. Galadriel checked on her grandson and sighed relieved when she sensed the boy was still in a deep healing sleep she had sent him earlier.
As soon as Galadriel had left the tent, her daughter whirled around.
“Naneth, Elrond is shutting me out…”
Again, Galadriel did not let her daughter finish her sentence.
“Celebrían stop! I am disappointed in you. I hear nothing but complaining. I do not appreciate Elrond shutting you out, but now I see his reason. He needs a clear mind. You would do good in supporting your husband. It is unworthy of you. I am glad your Adar is not witnessing this.”
Celebrían stepped back in shock.
“If Glorfindel had not persisted on this stupid tour nothing would have happened, and I would not have to fear for my children´s lives,” she cried her hands raised in agitation.
Galadriel took another step toward her daughter.
“Glorfindel is the only reason that both of your sons are still alive.”
The Lady of Light turned and walked back toward the tent.
Celebrían stood there rooted to the spot.
Just then, a guard came rushing toward the two ellith.
“What?” she cried.
“My lady, please come quickly. Something is not right with your grandson.”
The two she-elves ran toward the tent at the guard's words.
Without conscious thought, Elrond had stepped back on the ledge, turned and slithered to the edge of the rim. Quickly he stretched his hand after the falling elf. With just his fingertips he was able to grab something. He closed his fingers around some strap. He grabbed hold of Tinár from falling yet the momentum was dragging him forward. With his other hand, he pulled over the rock, desperately trying to get some hold.
“Ada, we are falling!” Elladan screamed on his father’s back in terror nearly choking him by wrapping his arms tightly around his neck. His foot caught on some rock, and at the last moment, he stopped sliding.
“Elrond, you must…” Tinár said softly and weirdly controlled. His eyes, however, spoke another language.
“Silence,” Elrond hissed. “No further words and no movement.”
Elrond panted with the exertion. The weight of Tinár strained his injured arm beyond anything bearable. His left foot was wedged behind a rock, the full weight of Tinár and his own tearing him down.
The healer had frozen. He wanted nothing more than to take his weight off the healer´s arm but he knew that one small movement could push all three of them over the edge. He saw the strain and the rivulets of sweat on Elrond´s face. The panicked eyes of Elladan were staring down at him.
“Keep absolutely still, Elladan,” Elrond ground out between clenched teeth.
“Please do not move.” The elfling stilled but Tinár was not sure if he stopped moving due to his father´s words or from fright.
Ever so slowly, Tinár looked up and swallowed when he saw Haldir scrambling down the rope toward them. The last few feet Haldir slipped down. When he landed on the ledge, he instantly knelt, bent forward and stretched out his hand.
“Take my hand, now!” he cried. Haldir was sure that Elrond would lose his hold any second.
The young healer risked all. He stretched out one hand and reached for the hand of the Lothlórien elf.
When Elrond saw that Haldir had a good grip, he released his precarious hold on the strap of the bag Tinár had slung over his back. Now he could prevent being dragged over the rim with his son.
With a mighty tug, Haldir hoisted the younger healer onto the ledge.
All three adult elves lay there panting, the elfling frozen on his father´s back, no longer screaming but silently crying.
“Haldir, Tinár, Elrond? Are you alright?” The voice of Celeborn held worry and frustration.
Long moments neither of the four moved. Haldir was the first to recover.
“Tinár is safe. Elrond will come up in a moment,” Haldir informed his foster father.
The young healer had already risen. His knees shaking slightly, he looked at Haldir.
“Thank you, without your quick reaction…” the healer looked pointedly at the chasm.
Haldir waved a hand. “You are welcome, but now we should finally ascend before my father goes out of his mind.”
Tinár nodded and turned. Elrond rose carefully on his hands and knees as to not jostle the elfling too much.
“Tinár, please look at Elladan´s leg. I will immediately ascend if all is well.”
Elrond sensed that the younger healer fought with his emotions.
“Tinár we will talk later but now time is of the essence.”
The younger elf knelt and immediately began checking the elfling´s leg.
“Lord Elrond, if I may make a suggestion? I will take your son and bring him up. Tinár can look at your arm, and you can come up after me much easier without the additional weight.”
Haldir looked pointedly at the ever-growing red stain on the healer´s sleeve.
“I will go back down and help Tinár prepare Glorfindel for the ride up. You can care for your son while we help Glorfindel.”
Hearing his still crying son and looking at the still body of Glorfindel Elrond finally nodded. He felt drained, and his arm hurt.
“Sounds like a plan,” he answered curtly.
In no time, Elladan had been removed from his father´s back after Tinár had checked that no further harm had come to his leg. The tears were a testimony to the tired mind of the elfling. Just as quickly, Elrond had secured the boy on Haldir´s back.
Just as Haldir had called out to his father to tighten the rope, Elladan squirmed.
“Ada, I want to go with you,” he wailed. He removed his hands from around the younger elf´s neck.
Elrond sighed. “Elladan, you have to go with Haldir. I will be right behind you. So, I can have a better look at your leg and make sure you cannot fall.”
When the elfling nodded reluctantly and had his hands again around the neck of the fair-haired elf´s neck, Haldir gave the signal again.
“I will not let him fall,” Haldir muttered silently.
“I know,” Elrond answered just as quietly, and Haldir started.
“We are ready, up,” Haldir called.
“I will be back shortly,” he said this time directed at Tinár.
The rope went taut, and Haldir began the ascent. Tinár was already re-bandaging the older healer´s arm.
“This should do,” he said. Elrond realized that Tinár was not looking at him. A talk was in order as soon as the injured were cared for.
Elrond grabbed the second rope Celeborn had thrown down. One of the guards would secure the other end.
He began ascending the cliff wall his eyes on his son.
“You are doing well, Elladan. I see you. All is well.”
The elfling did not even react. He had squeezed his eyes shut.
Quickly the two elves had reached the top and were hoisted over the rim by Celeborn and the guard.
Elrond took his son from Haldir´s back and placed him on a blanket Celeborn had already spread on the ground. Haldir instantly turned and grabbed the rope, Celeborn again securing him.
“The litter will be ready when you call,” he said.
Haldir nodded and had already swung over the rim. In no time, he had joined the waiting Tinár.
When the rope went slack, Celeborn knelt beside his son-in-law. Elrond was already busy sending his son into a healing sleep after he had checked on his leg. The unexpected endeavor had done no further harm to the broken limb.
Celeborn waved at the drowsy child.
“Hello, my little warrior,” he called smiling at the dirty face of the boy.
“Hello, Daerada. I have fallen down a cliff…” the eyelids of the elfling already drifted shut.
“This I have heard, but you have been very brave I was told.”
A small smile had appeared on the face of the elfling before he closed his eyes.
When Elrond was sure that his son was sleeping deeply he covered him with another blanket.
The healer rose and looked at the spot where Celeborn had already placed a makeshift litter.
“Now on to the tricky part…,” he said with a sigh.
Celeborn stepped into the healer´s path.
“Elrond, take a breath and sit down. A sip of water and a bite to eat will not hurt. Haldir and Tinár will need some time preparing Glorfindel.”
When the Lord of Imladris started to protest Celeborn narrowed his eyes.
“Elrond Eärendilion, if I shall help appropriate I need some information, you will give me now. It would also not hurt to inform your wife. She has a right to know how her children fare.”
With that, the silver-haired elf turned and left the healer standing speechless.
To be continued…
Chapter 11: Keeping spirits up
Just after her daughter, Galadriel entered the tent where they had placed Elrohir. The guard stepped back when the two she-elves entered.
Celebrían instantly knelt next to her son while Galadriel stood looking at the elfling intently. The guard left at a sign from his lady.
“Elrohir, dear, Nana is here,” Celebrían crooned her voice a bit too shrill. The elfling, however, was not hearing her neither was he recognizing anything going on around him.
The younger twin´s upper body was held upright by his straight arms behind him. He was shivering all over, and from wide open eyes, large tears were rolling down his cheeks.
“Dan, Dan he´s falling…no, do not let him fall…it hurt´s…help Ada…”
Celebrían tried to coax her son to lay back down again, but the small child put up an unexpected resistance.
“Dear, where do you hurt?” Celebrían asked frustration coloring her voice.
“Daughter,” Galadriel said softly but insistent. “It is not his pain. He is witnessing someone´s other hurts and fears.”
Galadriel frowned. Her daughter, more than all others, knew about the close connection between the twins and that they could feel each other's emotions. What was happening with her? Was she so trapped in her anger about Elrond´s rejection that she could no longer think straight?
This condition had to be remedied soon; otherwise, she would negatively affect this mission. Galadriel would fiercely defend her daughter´s decisions, but gradually she was beginning to understand why Elrond did not want his wife on the road. Even if she did not appreciate his course of action, she realized that his decision had been sound.
Celebrían looked up irritated.
“Do you think I do not know this? He is most certainly witnessing Elladan´s pain. But, why I ask you is my other son even in pain, Naneth? Elrond and Adar are with him, so why this great anguish?” Celebrían cried.
Galadriel narrowed her eyes. She had to act before her daughter could do more harm than good.
The Lady of Light knelt down placed one hand on the rigid back of the crying elfling and one hand on his forehead.
“Shhh, child. Your Ada is looking after your brother; all will be well. Now lay back down, dear and relax. We will do all in our power to prevent any harm to Dan.”
Slowly the shivering eased, and when the rigidness left the little body, Galadriel carefully guided the elfling back on the pallet.
When his head touched the pillow, Elrohir´s eyes had already drifted shut. With a bit assistance, Galadriel sent the boy back into a deep healing sleep with the promise that no harm could befall him.
When regular breaths indicated that Elrohir was again sleeping deeply, Galadriel gestured for her daughter to follow her out of the tent.
As soon as both she-elves had left, the Lothlórien guard slipped silently inside.
Celebrían was standing in the middle of the clearing, her gaze directed westwards toward the mountains. Galadriel stepped beside her daughter. Both elves stood perfectly still for long moments.
“Celebrían I am worried. Is there anything you want to tell me?” Galadriel did not look at her daughter; however, she felt the up-flaring anger and turned her head quickly.
“Mind your tone!” the older elf said warningly.
Celebrían took a deep breath. After she had briefly closed her eyes, she looked at her mother intently.
“Naneth, I was against this journey because of just these reasons we are now standing here. I feared that something terrible could happen and I was right. Elrond overruled my opinion and let them go. When we were informed that something happened to my children, he forbade me to come, and to top it all off he even shuts me out from our bond. You say I am angry? I am furious and with good reason.”
Her eyes were blazing, her whole-body rigid. Galadriel let her daughter´s emotional storm rage until she was forced to take a breath. This was her daughter one hundred percent, and she was proud of her self-conscious demeanor, but in this case, some things had to be set straight.
“Celebrían I see your point, I really do, yet I am sure Elrond would never have gone against your will if you had earnestly objected. Therefore, do not blame him alone. For not letting you come along I am grateful. Child, you know how dangerous these paths can be. He had enough on his mind to worry about. He only wanted to know you were safe. For shutting you out—this is an entirely different matter and something between you two which needs discussing. But, for now, your children need you, and your husband needs your support, not your anger. This can wait until later.”
When Galadriel had thought she had reached her daughter she was sorely mistaken a moment later.
“You are on my side, you say? I can see nothing on that behalf, Naneth. I am only interested in bringing my children home alive.”
After she had spoken, the Lady of Imladris turned and headed back to the tent. Galadriel had not outwardly reacted to her daughter´s words. She pressed her lips into a thin line. Her daughter was steering into a full-fledged martial crisis and with two injured children on the road.
`One step at a time, my love.'
At the mental reassurance of her husband, Galadriel closed her eyes briefly.
When Tinár knelt next to the warrior, he swallowed. Just at the sight, Glorfindel looked already dead. As Elrond before him, he searched for a pulse. He had to keep perfectly still and quiet to feel the weak pounding.
The older healer had informed him about Glorfindel´s condition, and Tinár was of the same opinion that down here they would not be able to help the warrior. To bring him up the cliff was paramount.
“Tell me how I can help you best?” Tinár looked up at the Marchwarden. Some friendship had already formed during the short period they knew each other.
“First we need the litter. The tricky part will be to escort the litter up without too much jostling.”
Haldir nodded und turned. “Adar, please rope down the litter.”
A few minutes later, a sturdy construction of branches secured with thick ropes came down. On both sides of the litter were loops where braided lines were attached. The plank in the middle was cushioned with a thick blanket.
Haldir pulled the contraption as near as possible. A note was wedged between the branches. `Reduce the jostling to a minimum. I fear a break of the spine or something similar. Minimize the stress on the punctured lung. `
Tinár swallowed at the quickly scribbled words of Elrond.
“Easier said than done,” Haldir muttered while reading over the healer´s shoulder. Tinár nodded grimly.
“Let us begin. We have only three hours of daylight left.”
While Haldir unfolded the blanket, Tinár shoved his arms carefully under the still and cold body.
He took a deep breath and carefully lifted the limp body. The ledge was too narrow to make a full turnaround, so Tinár stepped sidewise until he had reached the litter. Slowly he crouched down and Haldir quickly shoved the litter under the body. Ever so slowly, Tinár lowered Glorfindel on the blanket.
The healer frowned. The warrior had made no sound or even twitched a muscle. Even if deeply unconscious, the body was feeling pain and reacted in some way. Glorfindel, however, showed no reaction at all.
Tinár was partly relieved that the warrior could not feel anything, yet he never knew if he did something wrong and worsened the condition. With a moaning or complaining patient, you could correct your handling anytime.
After placing the body down on the blanket, Tinár helped Haldir to carefully secure ropes over the breast, the belly, and the legs. With a wary eye, Tinár monitored the red patch on the right side of the shirt. Hopefully, nothing would get out of hand while going up the cliff.
“Let us test to see if this works,” Haldir said. “Adar, please left the litter but only a little bit.”
After a short confirmation, the two ropes went taut. The littler was lifted half a foot. Tinár swallowed when he saw how the branches scraped along the wall jostling the contraption with every pull.
Quickly Tinár and Haldir secured two further ropes around their middle, positioned themselves left and right of the litter and gave the signal. Celeborn and two guards pulled and the litter flanked from the two elves moved upwards.
They were already halfway up when the wind came up.
“Stop!” the healer called.
The litter was moved sideways by a gush of wind and Tinár, and Haldir grabbed the ropes to hold the litter steady. Celeborn had stopped the pulling waiting for the signal to proceed.
Just at this moment, Glorfindel moaned and struggled against the bonds.
“Wonderful,” Tinár muttered and moved in front of the litter pressing it on the wall.
Haldir followed his example, and so the elves protected the injured warrior from the wind and saved the litter from tipping.
“Lord Glorfindel, please do not struggle. We are guiding you up the cliff.” Tinár was not sure if the warrior had comprehended what was said, even though his eyes were directed at the young healer. To his relief, however, the warrior closed his eyes again. After a questioning look from Haldir, Tinár nodded.
“Continue,” Haldir cried and instantly the ropes went taut again.
Painstakingly slowly, the litter was hauled up, the two younger elves permanently correcting the alignment of the litter. Gratefully the warrior had not struggled again or reacted in any other way.
They had nearly reached the top and could already see Celeborn and the guards pulling them up when Tinár heard a crack.
He looked up sharply and saw some large stones loosened from the rim and came raining down.
He cried out a warning, but it was already too late. One of the larger stones hit Haldir on the head. Dazed, the Marchwarden released the hold on the litter and sagged down a few feet. Fortunately, he was secured by the rope to his middle. Tinár heard Celeborn swear until he had managed to stop his son´s fall.
“Please, Valar give us a breather!” Celeborn cried, his gaze accusingly directed at the heavens.
Tinár had bent himself over the warrior to prevent him from being hit by the boulders. He grunted when a large stone crashed into his back.
As soon as the avalanche had stopped, the healer straightened. Glorfindel had not been harmed; only his whole body was covered with smaller pebbles and dust. Maneuvering carefully, Tinár bent forward and looked down.
“Haldir are you alright?” Celeborn called.
Tinár feared that his friend was unconscious when a soft reply came.
“I am all right.”
Tinár saw the younger elf touch his head and his hand came away bloody. This was not good, not good at all.
“Stay where you are. We are pulling Glorfindel up and then coming after you,” Elrond had leaned over the rim and called out to Haldir.
When no answer came, the ropes of the litter went taut, and Glorfindel was hauled up the rest of the way with quick pulls. It took Tinár much effort to keep up.
In no time, the litter was dragged over the rim, and Tinár was grateful for two pairs of hands pulling him on safer ground.
For a few minutes, he only lay there breathing.
“Thank you,” he said softly as Celeborn bent over him.
The Elf-lord smiled. “You are welcome, young one.”
Tinár got up and came over to the litter. He began his examination of the injured warrior.
“Maybe you can stop chatting and help me up?”
Haldir had managed to come up to the rim alone, yet had not the strength to get over it. Elrond and Celeborn dragged the elf up. Carefully Elrond leaned the head of the Marchwarden back on the wall and took a look at the bleeding wound.
“I told you to wait,” Celeborn said annoyed, yet there was more worry than anger in his voice.
With blood still running down his face, Haldir managed a crooked grin.
“I did not want another boulder to ruin my haircut completely.”
Celeborn snorted. “As if there is anything to ruin.”
Elrond smiled inwardly. Celeborn was just doing the right thing by loosening a bit of the tension.
The healer carefully probed the wound on the skull and grimaced when he found a rather deep hole. He was surprised that the elf had not been unconscious at once.
Elrond held up his index finger.
“Haldir, please follow my finger with your eyes,” he instructed while moving his finger slowly to the right.
The eyes focused on the finger but moved a bit sluggish for the healer´s taste.
“Headache, dizziness?” he asked while pressing a pad over the wound.
“I am tired,” Haldir retorted while Elrond was fixing the pad with a bandage Tinár had given him.
“Rest until we leave, but no sleeping” Elrond instructed, and Haldir closed his eyes while nodding.
When Elrond straightened up, he looked into the concerned eyes of Celeborn.
“He has a slight concussion. We will take a look at him on the way back. Someone has to ride with him.”
Celeborn nodded and grimaced. “As if we do not have enough on our mind.”
Elrond clapped his father-in-law on the shoulder. He knew that the older elf´s irritation was not directed at his son.
Elrond turned while taking a deep breath. After checking on his still sleeping son, he knelt next to his assistant.
“Any new insights?” he asked.
Tinár had meanwhile cleaned and bandaged many cuts, abrasions, and scrapes and had bandaged the open bump on Glorfindel´s head.
He shook his head.
“I am still worried over his prolonged and deep unconsciousness. He came around half way up, but I am not sure he recognized his surroundings.”
Elrond frowned. He had thought a lot about this problem. If Glorfindel had broken his spine or some grievous injury to his back, this could explain some of his symptoms but not this total lack of response.
Again, he thought back on the warrior´s visitation at the orc´s assault on Elrohir. This had undoubtedly cost much energy, but it could not be the only reason. Had Glorfindel again extended his senses, and so depleted his reservoir of strength to a life-threatening level?
Anyway, they had to get off this damned cliff first and find a location where he could make a thorough examination. It would help Elrond a lot more to assess his state if Glorfindel was awake.
Elrond squeezed the shoulder of his young colleague in sympathy and rose.
He was just about to announce their departure when Celeborn cried out in surprise. Elrond whirled around into the direction of the silver-haired elf and followed his outstretched arm.
He narrowed his eyes at the dark point quickly coming closer. Then he gasped. A big eagle was coming directly toward them. There was no doubt that he was looking at the spot they were standing on.
Elrond quickly turned, grabbed two blankets and tossed one at Tinár. The young healer caught it in mid-air and covered Glorfindel. Celeborn caught the second one and placed it over Elladan. A guard covered the head of Haldir with his cloak.
Not a second too early. An enormous gush of wind hauled at the mountain wall. The mighty beast slowed down only a little bit, brought his clawed feet in front and descended on the cliff trail.
Tinár let out a cry of surprise when the bird´s claws dug into the belly of dead Asfaloth.
The eagle intensified the flapping of his great wings and then lifted the horse up. Burdened by the additional weight the great bird sagged down a few feet but soon recovered and sailed majestically away with his heavy load.
Elrond stood there speechless. It happened very rarely that an eagle of Manwë could be seen. According to the stunned faces of Tinár and the guards, they had never seen one, and even he and Celeborn had the opportunity only once or twice in their lives.
What a courtesy to the dead companion of Glorfindel. This would mean much to the warrior.
Elrond looked at his son and Glorfindel after the blankets had been removed. What a pity that both had not been able to witness this. It would have given the warrior some peace of mind and his son quite a story to tell his brother.
He shrugged. It could not be changed.
“We should move on. A storm is brewing.”
Elrond looked up sharply at the words of Celeborn. He directed his gaze into the distance but could not detect any clouds.
When he raised his famous eyebrow at his father-in-law, Celeborn sighed.
“Not there,” he said while nodding his head at the heavens, “there.”
He pointed his index finger at Elrond´s heart.
“Use your bond, Peredhel.”
Celeborn turned to gather their supplies while Elrond gasped.
To be continued…
Chapter 12: stop-over
Elrond held up his hand and called for a stop. They had made a good way the last hours, but now he wanted to check on his patients.
He nodded gratefully when Celeborn dismounted quickly and approached to take a drowsy Elladan down. Elrond dismounted and stretched his muscles. With his leg, he had supported the splinted leg of his son, his shin now feeling nearly numb from being held in the same position for so long.
Looking around, Elrond was pleased to see the path widen to a little dent not ten feet ahead and upon listening carefully, he could hear a small stream running to the side. Perfect!
The guards were already busy unloading some supplies and building a makeshift camp. Two of them had vanished into the trees and one to collect firewood and water.
He thought back to their departure nearly two days ago. After Celeborn´s reprimand, he had opened his mind and almost stumbled back with the intensity of emotions coming his way.
His wife was still angry—no fuming, furious. He had frowned at the intensity of her incomprehension. Yes, he had not wished for her to come on this rescue mission for two reasons. First and paramount was in fear for her safety and second because he knew how very emotional and her being protective of her children. Even if he loved her for this, he needed a clear mind to prevent any further harm to his children. Elrond did not need her emotional ranting on such a delicate mission. He was stressed enough with the worry for his sons and the concern for Glorfindel, that he did not have the patience to placate his irate wife. And now, he had learned that she was here against his explicit wish. This was his mothers-in-law doing, and he was not pleased that she had complicated a difficult mission even more.
With a troubled heart, he had started the return journey not looking forward to meeting his wife at the camp where he had left Elrohir. After trying to contact her mentally and a brusque rejection, he had not tried again. He would deal with his wife later. His focus now lay on his sons and of course Glorfindel. He did not let it show, but his troop commander´s condition worried him greatly.
Uncounted times he had treated grievous injuries Glorfindel had obtained while simply doing his job—protecting Imladris—yet he had never found him in a state like this—body and spirit at a low level, nor responding.
If Glorfindel had broken his spine in the fall—and Elrond was now relatively sure of that—and had to lie unmoving all these days and nights then he had spent too much life energy to hold his fëa up. Additionally, the ancient elf had depleted his resources in helping his sons. Elrond had witnessed one time, and he still shuddered when Elladan had told him from his “excursion” with Asfaloth. These two actions had most likely rescued his children spirits and even bodies but pushed the warrior over the edge.
Before they had departed, Elrond had treated the wound to the lung and after he had removed the protruding rib and closed the wound and the bleeding had stopped this injury would heal. Any human would have long died of blood loss, pain and a down shutting system. Even if being a pure and strong elf, Glorfindel had his limits and they had been reached if not even breached.
Elrond started when someone squeezed his shoulder.
“One step at a time, son,” Celeborn said carrying a sleeping Elladan into the tent Tinár had meanwhile erected.
“I am this readable?” Elrond retorted, annoyed at himself.
Celeborn waved a hand. “Yes, you are, Peredhel.”
Elrond walked toward the litter which they had attached between the two pack-horses after they had left the mountain trail. The guard who had provided the water and Tinár were already busy unloading it.
Elrond spoke softly to the mares and coaxed them to stand still. “Careful now, no twisting and jostling. The wound to the ribs is very precarious.”
Tinár and the guard nodded grimly. Both remembered vividly the three times they had to stop the last two days when the wound had started bleeding again. Tinár was sure that the warrior had not one drop of blood left in his body.
“We will place him in the second tent, Elladan is awake and had asked for you,” Tinár said, and Elrond nodded.
He headed for the shelter his son was resting in. He slipped inside and smiled at Celeborn sitting next to the pallet and talking to his son.
“…and see here is your Ada. Until later my brave warrior.” Celeborn waved while making space for the healer. Elrond thanked the Lord of the Golden Wood silently.
After sitting down, Elrond caressed his son´s cheek checking for fever and pouring healing energy into the small body. Celeborn smiled when the child relaxed instantly only knowing that a touch from Ada brought relief. He left silently.
“Ada?” Elladan asked softly after opening his eyes. “Where is Ro?”
“Your brother is with your…Naneth and Daernaneth.” Elrond still had to come to terms with the fact that his wife was at the camp they would hopefully reach the next few days.
When Elladan did not react as expected Elrond frowned. “Elladan what is wrong?” the healer asked puzzled. He had expected excitement or at least joy from his son.
“Ada, have we done something wrong?”
Elrond´s frown changed in barely masked irritation at this question. “Why do you ask this, Elladan?” Elrond guarded his features carefully. As small as his sons were they were already masters in reading facial expressions.
“Nana is angry at you, and you do not want to speak with her. Is it because of us?” The under-lip of the elfling begun to quiver.
Elrond took a deep breath and closed his eyes briefly. How had the twins witnessed their quarrel? Elrohir must have reached out to his brother. Elrond´s anger flared up again. Celebrían must have let her son see her anger toward him. But was he without guilt? Had he let his guard be also breached?
This had to stop now. Like all elves, the twins´ physical state was linked with the mental health. If one part suffered, the other could suffer also.
Knowing that he could not fool his son Elrond swallowed. “Elladan, Ada, and Nana had some quarrel over the best way to help you two and Glorfindel, but that has nothing to do with you or your brother doing something wrong, understood?”
Elladan nodded half-heartedly, and Elrond was sure that some information was already passed on to Elrohir.
“You or Nana will not leave us?” was the timid reply.
Elrond sighed and bent down to carefully lift his son into his arms. He hugged the boy to his chest and stayed thus for long moments.
“No Elladan. Neither of us will leave you two as long as you need us. I promise.”
When he felt a nod at his shoulder, Elrond lowered the child back on the pallet.
“And now sleep, my son. The next time you wake we have will have already reached the camp with your brother and Nana.”
Elladan nodded again, and his eyes drifted shut.
Elrond had woven the threads of sleep thickly this time to guarantee the child a deep and trouble-free sleep.
When Elrond stepped outside the tent, Celeborn was looking at him with a raised eyebrow. “Let deeds follow your words, son. A serious talk is in order.”
Elrond nodded. He was tired, but he had to look after Glorfindel first. Maybe some light at the end of the tunnel there?
When Elrond ducked under the tent flap, Tinár was just finishing rewrapping the warrior´s side wound. When he sensed the healer´s approach, he looked up.
“No more bleeding and the healing looks well enough for me.”
“That is not what worries me.” Elrond sat down and reached out a hand to the fair-haired elf´s neck. The pulse was there but shallow as before. Again, there was no reaction to any stimulation.
Elrond nodded in appreciation when he saw how thoughtfully Glorfindel was placed on a heavily cushioned cot, a warm blanket covering from head to toe. When Tinár started to leave, Elrond touched the younger healer´s arm.
“Tinár, a word?”
Reluctantly the younger elf nodded. Elrond left the tent after his colleague.
Tinár was standing in the middle of the little clearing his back rigid. Elrond knew what was weighing down the young healer and he wanted to get this talk over with sooner than later.
“Tinár would you be so kind to have a look at my arm?” Elrond had spoken softly, yet the younger healer´s head snapped up.
Tinár was intelligent enough to see where Elrond aimed his request. Doing his profession would possibly loosen some tension, yet he was also confronted with part of his trouble.
“Of course,” Tinár said while Elrond took a seat at a log. The young healer rolled up the sleeve and unwrapped the bandage. The stitched cut still looked inflamed and swollen. Tinár pressed his lips into a thin line. He reached into his ever-present bag slung over his shoulders, but Elrond stilled his hand.
“Tinár, it was not your fault, and I thank all Valar that I was able to grab you at the last moment. I would have given this arm to rescue you. This wound will heal quickly.”
Tinár shook his head vehemently and swallowed against the lump forming in his throat. “But I nearly dragged you and Elladan over the edge. I put too much strain on your arm and maybe damaged it even more…you should not have grabbed me….” His voice broke, and he closed his eyes.
Elrond took both of the young healer´s hands in his. “Tinár, but it did not happen and as I said it will heal. Nothing to worry about. I will need your full concentration the following days. I need someone to rely on to help with the care for Glorfindel, Elladan, and Haldir and what may happen to us on the way home. I know no one I would trust more with this task. Can I count on you?”
The young healer took a deep breath and nodded.
Elrond smiled. “Good and I need gain against these Wood Elves from Lothlórien. Always meaning being second to none to everyone.”
This time Tinár smiled. “A strange lot sometimes, my lord, but your wife is a Lothlórien elf also, is she not?” he asked carefully. He had seen in time the Lord of the Golden Wood nearing. Elrond winked at his colleague.
“Who is a strange lot?” the silver-haired elf asked with a raised eyebrow.
“Noooooo one!” Tinár and Elrond said in unison and left a frowning Elf-lord standing.
Elrond woke with a start. He was not aware of going to sleep. After he had looked after Haldir and made sure that the Marchwarden was also resting, despite his protest and confirmation that all was well, he had moved into Glorfindel´s tent and sat beside the cot. His hand lightly resting on the warrior´s chest he must have dozed off.
He blinked when he recognized the noise that had woken him again. A groan. Now he was wide awake.
He bent forward to look at the warrior´s face. To his surprise, the eyes were open.
“Glorfindel, can you hear me?” Elrond asked softly while lightly tapping a finger on the other´s cheek to get his attention.
The warrior´s eyes focused on the healer´s face. Elrond took a cup of water placed next to the bed and held it to his friend´s lips. Elrond frowned. Though licking his lips, Glorfindel did not make any attempt to lift his upper body or even his head. This was unusual. Elrond always had to restrain the injured not to move too fast.
Elrond placed a hand under the warrior´s neck and lifted him up so he could take a sip. Again, Elrond had to position the cup at Glorfindel´s lips and even tip it.
“Glorfindel, how do you feel?” Elrond watched the warrior intently.
“I have been better.”
Elrond narrowed his eyes. This was also unusual for the ancient elf. Glorfindel had always downplayed his condition when injured; now this admission did not fit him.
“This I can see, “Elrond answered more irritated than he had intended. “Tell me where you hurt.”
Almost bored, Glorfindel looked at the tent roof. “Breathing hurts.”
Elrond sighed. “I can imagine. Glorfindel what is with your lower back, your feet. Can you move them? Have you any feeling there?”
Glorfindel directed his gaze back at the healer. “How are the boys?”
Elrond took a deep breath. Stalling. Alright. “They are alright considering the circumstances. Elrohir we found on the way, and Elladan has a broken leg. Nothing dramatically serious, even if I will keep a close eye on them.”
When Glorfindel did not outwardly react to this information and looked away, Elrond turned back the warrior´s head by gently placing two fingers on his chin.
“You have not answered my question, Lord Glorfindel.”
The formal address generated a reaction.
“What do you want to hear, great healer? I have no feeling at all down my spine or my legs. Nor can I move. I cannot even determine if I have to relieve myself. Satisfied now?” After an angry glare, the warrior lowered his eyes.
Elrond swallowed partly aghast over the confirmation of his assumption. “Glorfindel, do not despair yet it can only be….”
The healer had no chance to finish his sentence. “Oh, Elrond give me a break! I am no half-wit. I know what I am feeling or better said not feeling. You should have disposed of me on the ledge. Save the grief.”
Elrond closed his eyes briefly and blew out his breath. `Valar help us, ´ he prayed silently.
To be continued…
Chapter 13: Reunion
Elrond took a deep breath when they rounded a bend, and the camp came into sight. He had long sensed the other elves, especially his wife. And Galadriel´s fëa was not to be overlooked either, yet sensing something and finally seeing it was another matter.
Two further days had gone by since their departure. Haldir was doing well considering the circumstances. Apart from an occasional light headache, he felt no harmful after effects of the injury. The Marchwarden, however, had a streak ever to downplay his injuries and Elrond had, therefore, kept a close eye on him. Elladan´s leg was healing to expectations, yet the boy was still too quiet and often tired which was something Elrond was not comfortable with.
Glorfindel was another matter entirely. After his outbreak, he had not spoken one word again. He had closed his eyes and refused to react to anything or anyone. Only Tinár had been able to coax him to take some fluids and some bits of lembas.
Elrond wondered how to proceed. The warrior was descending into a full-fledged depression. The healer wanted to wait out the final diagnoses about the immobility. He had high hopes that it was temporary due to swelling along the spine, which he could finally answer when reaching home and he could thoroughly examine the warrior.
Elrond lightly tapped on his son´s shoulder. “Look we have arrived. Your Nana and Daernaneth are waiting for you.”
Elladan, leaning heavily against him, did not react outwardly to the announcement. “I want to see Ro,” was all he said already squirming to be set down.
“Wait,” Elrond answered frowning. Why was the boy this downcast?
While riding into the middle of the clearing and stopping his horse, Elrond looked around with appreciation.
The spot was selected thoughtfully. Secluded from casual bypassers, a little stream nearby, open space to let the sunlight down and tall trees to protect from inclement weather.
Elrond sensed at least three guards in the trees for protection and early warning. Altogether a perfect established and running camp.
Just what he needed to treat the injured properly finally.
And now Elrond recognized the reason for this perfection.
His dark-haired counselor was sitting on a log arranged around a small campfire just taking a pot with boiling water from the pole. When he spotted the riders, he rose, silently, observant and attentive as was his wont.
Elrond relaxed marginally and nodded toward his seneschal and was sure the thanks had been noticed. He would express his approval later.
While Haldir and Celeborn were already dismounting and helping to dispatch the litter with Glorfindel, Elrond kept sitting until someone relieved him of Elladan.
Just now the tent flap was thrown to the side and Celebrían followed by her mother came out.
Elrond directed his gaze at his wife, but when he had hoped to see joy or at least a welcome smile on her face, he was disappointed. Nearly instinctively he opened his bond and was greeted with icy silence. Sighing inwardly he closed up again and nodded gratefully when Tinár took Elladan down mindful of the splinted leg.
Galadriel had already greeted her husband, no kiss or boisterous hugging only a gentle touch—an intimacy Elrond envied right now.
The healer started however when he observed how Tinár repositioned his son in his arms to transfer him to his nearing mother. Just when Celebrían stretched out her arms, the older twin suddenly squirmed and turned, hugged the young healer and spoke softly in his ear.
“Take me to Ro, please?”
Tinár was stunned in such a way that he directed a helpless gaze at Elrond. The healer sighed and nodded ever so slightly. Ignoring the shocked face of his first lady, Tinár hugged the boy close and fled the scene.
Elrond directed his gaze at his wife while dismounting. If her face was closed before, it showed open fury now.
Outwardly appearing calm, he kept standing on the spot awaiting the storm to come. When Celebrían had reached him her eyes blazed.
“It was not enough to shut me out from my children, peredhel, now you have influenced them such that they will not even great me? I hate you…” she cried raising her hand for a slap.
Elrond intercepted the raised hand and pressed it down to her side clenching his fingers around her wrist.
“Calm down, wife. You speak nonsense.”
When she ceased her struggles, Elrond released her and strode toward the tent where Celeborn had placed Glorfindel. He did not miss the thinned lips of Galadriel while passing her. He inclined his head and knew that this was much too rude for a greeting but he would make up for it later. All what he would say now would be wrong.
Elrond was just about to kneel beside Glorfindel to check on him when an urgent call from Tinár brought him back to his feet.
“Elrond come quickly, something is wrong with the twins.” Tinár’s voice held a tinge of panic.
While exiting the tent, Elrond nearly bumped into Galadriel also running toward the children's shelter. When he entered, he saw his wife sprawled over both children caressing their faces.
“My poor babies, what is wrong. Answer me…” Tears were running down her pale face. She did not even notice her husband and father entering.
Elrond looked bewildered at Tinár.
“Elladan went unconscious, and both stopped breathing.”
Shocked, the healer wanted to assess his children´s condition, but his wife blocked him purposely with her body.
“It is your fault. It is because of you,” Celebrían cried still hindering her husband to reach out.
“Celebrían, Elrond–out! Leave this tent at once.” Celeborn's voice was not overly loud but insistent.
Elrond´s head snapped up. “But…”
Celeborn had moved quickly and grabbed his daughter´s and son-in-law’s elbow shoving both out of the tent. Galadriel slipped inside and gestured for Tinár to leave also. The young healer complied bewildered.
Tinár stopped outside and witnessed aghast the scene unfolding at the clearing.
Celeborn was standing opposite his children, and his eyes were blazing. He looked from one to the other.
“Have you two lost your mind? You are responsible for your childrens’ condition with your witless quarrel. The twins are shutting down because they can no longer stand this hostile atmosphere between you. Stop this immediately.”
Celebrían was just about to retort, but she closed her mouth quickly upon seeing her father´s angry eyes. Elrond only gasped when the implication hit.
Both parents turned as one.
“Stay where you are!”
The sharp command stopped them effectively.
“My wife will anchor them, and after that I expect you two to do what loving parents do and make it very clear to your children that there is no need to flee this world, have I made myself clear?”
While Celebrían nodded Elrond thinned his lips. He bristled at the tone of the older elf, but he was in too much turmoil to reply to anything.
When Celebrían gasped Elrond´s head snapped toward the tent. A faint blue light suddenly emanated from the inside. A slight wind was ruffling the flap even if no leaves outside moved. When the light grew in intensity and finally became blinding, Elrond closed his eyes swallowing convulsively.
Galadriel used her ring to save his children. How could it have come so far?
When the light was reduced to a reasonable level and finally expired, Elrond and Celebrían moved forward this time not stopped by the Lord of the Golden Wood. Elrond looked briefly at his wife, yet her gaze was fixed on the tent.
He swallowed. Was the chasm between them already too great to overcome? He only wanted to protect her from bodily harm in coming out here in the wild. He had closed his bond to concentrate entirely on the rescue mission. He never wanted to shut her out from her children. Her overbearing anger was uncounted.
`Maybe you should tell her that?`
Elrond started when he heard Galadriel´s words in his mind. They had just reached the tent. Galadriel was blocking the entrance.
“I was able to revive them and persuade them not to fade. They are in a deep healing sleep now. Whatever you do do not ruin my efforts.”
Celebrían rounded her mother and vanished into the tent without a word. Elrond was stopped by a raised hand of his mother-in-law.
“Give her some space to breathe and some time alone with them. You owe her that.”
Elrond nodded, his face a mask. “They are alright?”
Galadriel inclined her head, knowing that Elrond was referring to the bodily state of the twins.
Without a look at the tent or another word the healer turned and strode to the edge of the clearing. Before any guard could react, he had vanished into the trees.
A lone black-clad figure followed the healer silently.
Elrond strode through the underbrush with quick strides. The clearing had suddenly been too enclosed for him to breathe. He could no longer stand any face looking at him. He needed air and craved for the serenity of the trees. He stopped and leaned his back at a tall pine and listened…all right no comfort here too. He resumed his walk nearly running now.
What had went wrong? He only wanted to protect her and everyone else. He would die should Celebrían come to harm. Why did she not see this? Yes, Elrond loved his children beyond anything and was now worried sick because they had come to harm due to his decision to let them go. Had he made a wrong choice not considering the dangers enough? And then Glorfindel–his long-time companion, protector, and supporter–he could not, no would not, rule Imladris without him. If his worst fears about his diagnosis were confirmed and the golden-haired warrior was permanently paralyzed, Glorfindel would leave for the West, this much was clear.
He cried out more in fright than in pain when he stumbled over a root and fell flat on the forest floor. He recovered and leaned his back at the base of the nearest tree.
He raised his knees to his chest and lifted his head to the canopy. Voiceless but powerful he let out a mental cry full of anguish, hurt and worry.
A shockwave raced through the underbrush. Closing his eyes, Elrond lowered his head on his knees. Unseen by mortal eyes he blended perfectly into the natural surroundings.
Erestor had followed the dispute in the clearing with narrowed eyes. He had been aware that some misunderstanding was going on between Elrond and Celebrían. He had witnessed the heated parting words when Elrond had made it clear to his wife that he did not wish for her to accompany him in rescuing their children and Glorfindel–yet he had not been aware that the argument had raised to this level.
He had also tried to convince the first lady to remain home when she had informed him that she meant to follow her husband. He had failed in this part but quickly decided to accompany her so he could protect her personally.
On the way she had complained that Elrond was purposely shutting her out from her children.
Erestor was wise enough not to argue. He had known Elrond now for a very long time. First, he also had his fair trouble with this withdrawn and close-lipped elf, but gradually he had managed to advance Elrond´s inner core.
Elrond had many bad experiences during his life, and this had started when he was a small child. During his life, he had acquired a technique which allowed him to protect his injured soul. He seldom let his emotions show and he showed an indifference which often let him appear uncaring and aloof.
However, just the opposite was the case. Elrond was a perfectionist and loved clear rules and standards. He did expect much from others but instead of himself. When it came to understanding, caring, love or support, there was no elf west of the sea with a greater heart.
Elrond´s greatest wish was a wife he could cherish and love and children he could guarantee a pain-free and worry-free life, all he and his brother never had.
This was the reason why he was sometimes overprotective and unmoving when a decision was not matching his standards of control.
When meeting Elrond at the camp Erestor had seen the level of stress Elrond had reached, and he knew that he could not endure much more.
The confrontation with his wife and parents-in-laws had caused the final impact. Erestor had clearly seen that Elrond´s endurance was overstepped.
However, before he could interfere, Elrond had left the clearing and vanished into the underbrush.
Erestor sighed and instantly followed the elf after he had quickly pointed out to Celeborn where he was going.
Elrond was a formidable fighter and more than capable of looking after himself, yet in his current state, Erestor knew he would not be able to react to any danger adequately as he had not taken any weapons with him.
Erestor followed the half-elf quickly as Elrond did not make any attempt to conceal his passing. When the healer stumbled and fell, Erestor kept behind a tree knowing that Elrond would not react well when he would appear and offer his help.
When Elrond leaned back against the tree and let out a cry, Erestor started. A shockwave was racing through the underbrush not only ruffling his hair and clothing but sending tremors along the floor.
Erestor blinked. He had occasionally seen Elrond use his power but always positively, never had he negatively witnessed Vilya.
When the wave had ebbed away, he moved forward. He had to act now before the healer entirely withdrew.
He sat beside the half-elf and waited until Elrond lifted his head.
“Better?” Erestor asked eyeing his long time friend intently. When he had expected a sharp retort and the demand to leave, Elrond only took a deep breath.
“Yes. Erestor, I am glad you are here.”
There it was again–clear words without much ado. Elrond was all passion and feelings but not very good in voicing them.
“Always at your service.”
Long moments the two elves sat there staring into nothing. Erestor had long sensed the guard that had followed him but remained unseen in the trees so Erestor could concentrate on his charge.
“My children feel the need to fade, my wife is mad at me, and Glorfindel is descending into depression. Right now I do not know how to proceed, Erestor. Whatever I do it turns out wrong.”
Erestor moved a bit so that he could sit opposite the healer and look him in the eye.
“Elrond, I will take the liberty of quoting words you spoke to your wife, not an hour past. YOU SPEAK NONSENSE. Heed your own counsel. The only thing I see that is paramount now is to make amends with your wife.”
When the Lord of Imladris did not answer, Erestor took another deep breath. Marital problems were not really his area of expertise.
“Elrond she is hurt and worried. Tell her of your motives, and she will understand.”
Erestor saw the inner battle. Elrond wanted nothing more than to take his wife in his arms and explain all, yet he dreaded the reaction, another rejection.
Erestor tried a different approach. “Elrond, the twins' condition will not improve if you two continue with this quarrel. So take the first step. You owe this them.”
Elrond´s eyes blazed. “I have done all to save them. What more do you expect?”
Erestor ignored the tone. “You have done all to heal their bodily hurts, but it is the emotional level you have to address.”
Looking highly irritated at first, Elrond gradually calmed down and nodded. Erestor sighed inwardly. He knew what cord he must play.
He clapped the other on the shoulder. “Come let us return before your mother-in-law comes and gets you back.”
Elrond snorted very unlordly.
Just when the two elves had risen and dusted off their clothing, a call from a perimeter guard alerted them.
“Orcs, orcs attacking the camp!”
To be continued…
Chapter 14: a bit of coming closer
“Orcs, Orcs attacking the camp!”
When Elrond heard the warning, his heart nearly missed a beat. He looked at Erestor, and without a word, both elves ran back to the clearing. From the corner of his eye, Elrond saw how Erestor readied his sword. He had not even noticed that his advisor had brought the weapon along. His sword he had left at the camp.
As they neared the clearing, Elrond could already hear the usual sneers of orcs and shouted commands of Celeborn.
`Only a few more strides and I am there,` Elrond thought overcoming a fallen log with a mighty leap. When he heard the high pitched cry of his wife, he stormed into the clearing; a sword thrust into his hands. He had no time to look who had done this because an orc was already running toward him.
Elrond got into a defensive crouch and waited until the beast was near enough. With a precise and mighty stroke, he beheaded the orc. The body fell to the ground with a dull thud.
He quickly looked around and was glad to see Tinár, Celeborn, Haldir and the guards fighting and holding their ground. He could not see his wife however and hoped that she and Galadriel were hiding in one of the tents.
The elves were building a protective circle around the tents, and no orc so far had managed to slip past them. Elrond made quick work of another orc stupid enough to come too near.
He swallowed as more and more orcs were swarming into the clearing. He could easily fight five or six orcs, yet time was a factor. Even elves tired and if they did not gain the upper hand soon the sheer mass of orcs would overrun them sooner or later.
When Haldir cried out, Elrond whirled around. The Marchwarden was holding his upper arm, but the healer could see no blood. Perhaps it was only a hard blow?
While skewering another orc, Elrond saw Haldir raise his sword and attacked anew. No broken bone apparently.
The short diversion, however, was enough to allow two orcs to slip through their defense. Celeborn was quick to take action and slew the one nearest to him.
Before Elrond could react or shout a warning, one orc had vanished into the tent his children were resting and presumably Galadriel and Celebrian.
While Elrond knew that Galadriel and Celebrían were trained with the sword and could use them effectively, fighting a mad orc in an enclosed space with two injured children to consider was nothing he wanted to imagine.
Without losing another second Elrond and Celeborn started toward the tent, yet stopped when the orc emerged again, a bewildered look on his face. Elrond frowned. What had happened inside?
While making quick work of the still stunned orc, Elrond stole a quick glance at Celeborn and saw a little smile on the fair-haired elf´s face. What magic was working here? The healer shook his head. No matter, the important thing was that the orc had not found what he was looking for or so he hoped.
The mass of orcs was still great, yet Elrond noticed that no more were coming. However, when he took a quick look around, he saw Tinár was clutching his side and one of the guards—Thalan he was sure—was kneeling on the ground with a pain contorted face, his colleague standing over him and fighting the advancing orcs off.
“This has to stop now,” Celeborn called while moving toward him until the two elves were stood back to back.
“I agree,” Elrond retorted. The healer knew what Celeborn was attempting. Draw the attention of the orcs toward them to give the injured a breather.
The orcs took the bait and concentrated on the two elves and like in a practiced choreography, both thrust and parried in a deadly dance until a heap of orc-bodies piled around them.
When the last orc fell, Elrond sank to his knees panting. Rivulets of sweat ran down his face.
“Are you alright, peredhel? You look awful,” Celeborn ground out between clenched teeth as he knelt on his knees too.
“As do you, my lord,” Elrond retorted while looking the Elf-lord over. Apart from a few cuts, he could see nothing serious.
While Celeborn kept sitting, Elrond stood back to his feet.
“I will look at you shortly,” Elrond called out while he passed an also kneeling Tinár. The younger healer only nodded still clutching his side.
Elrond ran toward the tent and entered. He had taken a deep breath before he entered. When he stepped inside, he stopped and started. The tent was empty, but when he looked closer…
Just then a big cloak was thrown up, and his wife, Galadriel and his sons, all crowded together appeared before his eyes.
Seeing the nonplussed expression on his face, Galadriel smiled. “A trick my father taught me.”
Elrond raised an eyebrow and stored this information away for later. Then he sighed relieved. The ellith and his sons were safe, and no further harm had come to them.
“They are still sleeping,” Galadriel said when Elrond scrutinized his sons.
Celebrían had risen, and when she was passing past him, he touched her elbow.
“Are you alright?” he asked softly. He could feel her shivering.
She only nodded and left the tent.
“Be patient, Elrond,” Galadriel said softly. The healer nodded and was just about to exit the tent when they heard the pain-filled cry of Celebrían.
Elrond turned instantly and left the tent. He looked bewildered at his wife lying on the ground a long knife sticking out of her calf.
An orc believed to be dead was snickering trying to crawl away. The laughter went into a gurgling when a guard skewered the orc with his sword.
“Cel!” Celeborn cried and was already running toward his daughter. Elrond knelt beside his wife swallowing. The crude and rusty knife was still sticking into her calf, thus sealing the wound.
He gently caressed his wife´s sweat covered face. “Do not move too much. I have to remove the knife in a controlled motion.”
Celebrian only nodded.
“Concentrate on her, I will look after Tinár,” Galadriel said. She had also left the tent and was now heading toward the younger healer. “Celeborn, please follow me.”
The silver-haired elf looked irritated at his wife but then complied. His daughter was in good hands, and others needed attention too. While he hastened after his wife, Galadriel approached the injured guard.
Elrond nodded gratefully. He had already promised to look after his colleague, but the wound of his wife looked more urgent or so he hoped. He had no time to assess what kind of injury Tinár had suffered.
Elrond scooped his wife into his arms and hastened into the middle of the clearing where Erestor had already opened his bag and prepared some healing supplies.
Celebrían was gritting her teeth and had clenched her eyes shut as Elrond set her down carefully with her back leaned against a log.
“Are you alright?” Elrond asked his advisor while he washed his hands in a small bowl with water.
“I am fine,” Erestor replied while he placed a folded blanket next to Celebrían.
Together they slowly rolled her on her side so that Elrond had better access to the knife.
Quickly Elrond looked up and was pleased to see that Galadriel was tending to Tinár and Celeborn was caring for the injured guard. A wink from Haldir just emerging from his sons´ tent confirmed that all was well.
Leveling his mind, he concentrated on the wound of his wife. Considering the length of the knife, the blade was embedded deep, yet he doubted that it had reached the bone.
“Celebrían I have to tug out the knife. This will hurt, but it will lessen quickly once it is out. Are you ready?”
“Do it,” was all the daughter of Celeborn ground out.
Elrond nodded at Erestor, and the dark-haired elf tightened his hold on his First lady´s shoulder and hip.
“One…” with a determined tug Elrond retrieved the knife and placed it aside.
“What happened to two and three?” Celebrían gasped but now let out a sigh of relief.
Elrond quickly pressed a thick pad to the wound and held it for some moments to staunch the bleeding. He monitored his wife carefully, but Celebrían´s breathing slowly returned to normal, and apart from an expectable pale face, she appeared to be coping well.
After a few moments, he retrieved the soaked pad and replaced it with a new. He then tightly wrapped a bandage around it to hold it in place.
“What about the pain?” Elrond asked while he and Erestor helped to turn her on her back and lean against at the log.”
“It is bearable,” Celebrían said her gaze directed at her lap. Elrond made sure that no blood was seeping through the bandage and that Celebrían was resting as comfortable as could be. He cushioned the log with her cloak and offered her a sip of water which she took gratefully.
“I will see how Tinár is doing,” Erestor declared already rising. After a nod from Elrond, he walked over where Celeborn was still treating the younger healer.
“I will join you shortly,” Elrond called after him.
Elrond kept sitting beside his wife appreciatively registering that the guards were removing the dead orc bodies from the clearing. Haldir was helping, and Elrond made a mental note to look after the Marchwarden as soon as the injured had been cared for. He had not forgotten about the painful cry during the battle; even a deep bruise needed dressing.
Elrond was just about to rise when a slender hand touched his elbow.
“Elrond, a moment?” Celebrían´s voice was soft.
The healer sat back down and looked at his wife. “I can mix you a painkiller,” he offered.
Celebrían shook her head. “It is not that.” She gathered one hand of her husband in her´s. “Elrond, I had no right to try and slap you. I overreacted.”
Elrond nodded. He was too worn out to answer something appropriate. He retrieved his hand and squeezed his wife´s shoulder softly.
“I will have a look at Tinár and Thalan and then let us care for the boys, shall we?”
Elrond knelt next to Celeborn and Tinár. The young healer had his eyes closed and was apparently sleeping. Celeborn was repacking the remaining healing supplies.
“How is he?” Elrond asked looking at the thick bandage around Tinár´s middle.
Celeborn addressed his son-in-law. “He has acquired a deep stab wound just below his ribs.” When Elrond swallowed and narrowed his eyes, Celeborn touched his lower arm in a placating gesture.
“It looks worse than it is. The scimitar has only gone through skin and flesh; no organ was pierced. The bleeding has already stopped. I gave him something for the pain.”
Elrond nodded his face still taut. Celeborn was well trained in the healing arts, and he trusted his statement. Tinár looked content so far.
Just now Galadriel came over. “Thalan is alright. Just a broken ankle and a deep cut to the upper arm.”
Elrond sighed relieved. No severe damage there also, yet the summary of injured was bad enough. The way home would be a difficult one.
“How is Celebrían?” Galadriel asked. Celeborn had already joined his daughter.
“A stab wound to her calf. No sinew affected but a torn muscle. It has already stopped bleeding and should heal well.”
“And how are you?” Galadriel asked looking at the healer intently. Absentmindedly Elrond touched the bandage on his upper arm. He had nearly forgotten about the cut.
“I am alright,” he answered curtly not liking to be scrutinized by Galadriel.
“I did not mean that peredhel,” she replied her tone tinged with irritation. Galadriel nodded toward her daughter.
Elrond directed his gaze also at his wife and saw how Celeborn was hugging his daughter. Was she crying?
“We talked—sort of,” he replied.
Galadriel placed a palm on the side of her son-in-law´s head and gently forced his gaze toward her.
“That was a start but no talking, young one.”
Elrond squirmed out of touch.
“I promised her to let her check on the twins, and Glorfindel needs my attention also.”
Galadriel sighed. Stubborn half-elf, but in stubbornness, she could outrank him easily.
“The boys are still sleeping, and Glorfindel is also resting comfortably. He even asked for water and food. You see all are cared for and now you can rest.”
Elrond looked at his mother-in-law bewildered. He did not like being told what to do.
“I am not tired and…” He shook his head when he felt he could barely hold his eyes open.
“Oh yes you are,” Galadriel said softly catching the upper body of the healer already slumping forward. The short contact had sufficed to work her magic.
Galadriel placed the head of the dark-haired healer carefully on a blanket and covered him with another one.
After she had scanned their surroundings and found nothing disturbing, she joined her husband and daughter at a small campfire.
Tomorrow they would finally return home.
To be continued…
Chapter 15: Coming home
Elrond cast a last look around; the group was ready to march. Finally, they would return home. Elrond had forestalled the departure two further days to give the injured time to recover enough to make the journey.
Thalan was fit for travel even if only on horseback due to his injured ankle. Celebrían was also doing well, the wound to her calf healing fast. Tinár was still recovering from his stab wound, yet strengthened sufficiently to make the journey on one of the wagons Erestor had brought with him from Imladris. Haldir had shown no further after-effects of his head wound.
There were only his sons and of course Glorfindel to consider. The twins had regained consciousness after Elrond and Celebrían had come to some understanding, even if they still did not speak much with each other.
Elrohir had accepted the change and was acting remotely normal while Elladan only responded to his father. He had not once spoken to his mother nor accepted a touch or help from her. Celebrían had been shocked, but Elrond had asked her to be patient.
Elladan's leg had healed enough even to stand short periods of time on it, but Elrond would take no chance. Elrohir´s arrow wound to his shoulder was also healing nicely, yet Elrond still kept a close eye on him and made sure that his youngest always wore a sling for support. The burn marks on his leg were already fading.
Glorfindel was another matter entirely. He would make the journey on the other wagon so that he would get as much rest as possible. He was now awake longer periods of time, but more downcast than Elrond was comfortable with. The body could only heal if the mind complied.
He had asked Elrond to ride on horseback with the healer´s help, but Elrond had declined. The warrior´s broken ribs had just healed, the wound on his side closed, yet there was still swelling to his spine, and the jostling on the back of a horse was surely not helping.
Even if understanding the warrior´s desire to get back some of his self-esteem he still hoped that in getting more rest the paralysis would be only temporary. Glorfindel had apparently already given up on this matter.
Elrond had expected another fierce debate, but to his surprise, the warrior had complied without a comment and let himself be bedded on the wagon.
Elrond sighed knowing how his old friend was suffering from being dependent of other´s helping him, yet it could be not changed for now.
Furthermore, Elrond wanted both hands free should another attack arise during their homeward journey. They already were too much of a vulnerable target.
Elrond held up his hand to stop the baggage. They had made a good time the last two days, and Imladris was not far now. Just one hour ago he had spoken to the first sentries and given the order to relay a message that he wanted all prepared when he arrived with the injured.
A border guard, now acting as a messager, had bowed and left to bring word of his lord into the valley.
Elrond had been surprised how smooth their journey had been so far. No danger had presented itself, and no problem with the injured had arisen. Glorfindel had even accepted a meal Erestor had cooked for them all last evening.
Elladan had been delighted when Elrond had allowed him to ride with him and the boy had directed the great stallion to his wishes. Elrond had patted his faithful steed´s long neck in thanks for accepting the child´s irritating commands. Elrohir had driven Erestor´s mare to her patience limit.
Celebrían had come over to take Elladan down, but the older twin had turned away and ignored her mother´s hands. After a pained look at her husband, Celebrían retrieved her hands and turned to try her luck with her youngest. Elrohir, ever eager to please, complied and let himself be set down.
Elrond lifted the chin of his son gently until Elladan was looking at him. “Your Nana wanted to help. You hurt her.”
The older twin looked at his father. “I need no help. Can I get down?”
Elrond sighed and let his son wriggle down. His feet had not touched the ground when Celeborn came from behind and snatched the elfling.
“How are you, my little warrior. Are you hungry, yes?”
Elladan shrieked in delight. “Yes, yes please let me down. I can walk.”
Celeborn swept the boy in a wide arc to the ground. “Of course, my lord, I forgot.” Celeborn bowed to the elfling in an overdone gesture.
Elladan ran off to his brother already sitting on a log in the middle of the little clearing.
Elrond also dismounted and raised a surprised eyebrow when Erestor appeared with Glorfindel on his back. He was placing the warrior on a log around the now kindled fire.
Elrond even saw the warrior smile to something Erestor had said.
Elrond would not, however, let himself be fooled. If Glorfindel´s injury to his spine could not be reversed, then the warrior would not remain in Middle-earth.
He shook his head while he let his stallion roam free. Now it was not known if the damage was permanent. The swelling was still there and could eventually go down.
“Tomorrow I will ride with Ada,” Elrohir just announced when Elrond joined the elves around the small fire. He gratefully received a mug of tea Erestor was offering him.
Even Tinár had joined the little group, his complexion much improved.
“You can ride with Nana,” Elrohir said with a side look at his brother.
Elrond held his breath. Cunning little boy. The younger twin had clearly sensed the dissonance between his brother and Mother. Elrond directed his gaze at his oldest in expectation. Elladan looked darkly at his brother.
“I will ride with Tinár then in the wagon,” he announced as if this was the only logical answer.
Elrond sighed. Another rejection. Elladan always kept his course. He looked at his wife. She did her best not to show her frustration. Elrond made a mental note to talk to his son as soon as they had reached home.
Elrond sighed when they finally crossed the border to the hidden valley. Although twenty guards were accompanying them for hours, the healer was relieved to arrive home. Even if all injured were holding up it was high time to give them proper care and most of all a bed to lie down.
Reaching the courtyard, he sat for a few moments on his horse´ back to savor the peace and serenity. He blended all the bustling activity all around and let his mind wander free around the house, through the valley, and along the Bruinen and was relieved to detect no disturbances.
“My lord, welcome home, may I take charge of your horse?”
Elrond blinked. He had not noticed Lindir, the house´s administrator approach. “Yes, thank you, Lindir.”
Elrond slipped off his horse. He walked over to the wagon and observed how four of his healers staff were already busy to discharge Glorfindel. Tinár was instructing his colleagues.
Elrond stepped next to the litter. “I will come and check on you shortly.” Even if the warrior had his eyes closed Elrond knew that he was awake.
“I will see you at the healing yard too.”
Tinár trailing behind the litter nodded.
Elrond sighed when the last homecomer had vanished into the house. What weird days—now was time to recover and reflect.
He was also looking forward to a hot bath, a hearty meal, and his bed to replenish his strength.
“Maybe I can help you to relax tonight?” Celebrían asked suddenly appearing behind him. Elrond looked up in surprise. His wife had never been shy to voice her wishes, yet he had heard her uncertainty.
“I would like that,” he answered quickly in seeing her rising irritation. “I will see all injured settled; maybe you can instruct cook for a sustaining but light dinner?”
She nodded and turned to heed after Erestor who was carrying a sleeping Elrohir inside. He mother was carrying another sleeping elfling.
Three weeks had passed since their arrival, and all injured had been released from the infirmary care, except Glorfindel. The paralysis had not vanished after the swelling had gone down. He had been transferred to his own rooms for more privacy; this, however, did not mask the fact, that he needed constant assistance and care. Nothing the warrior could cope with easily.
Elrond had not given up on the warrior and had ordered a moving program to keep the muscles always trained in the hope that the paralysis could still be reversed. Maybe some nerves had to knit again, and this would need time. He had always told the warrior this and demanded not to give up hope.
After another week, Elrond now had the sneaking suspicion that the paralysis did not have a physical cause. He had witnessed patients where the mind´s condition had blocked a physical recovery. Was this the case here? Why would Glorfindel not want to return to his former life?
Elrond was at a loss. At first, Glorfindel had responded well to the exercise and participated in the daily routine to train his legs and arms while forced to lie in bed all day.
A few days passed, however, and things had changed. The warrior had refused to work his morning´s schedule and had driven his therapist from the room.
Elrond sighed when the healer appointed to work with Glorfindel had reported to him that the Glorfindel denied any further treatment. Elrond had long expected this to happen. While the warrior had complied at first, his motivation had more and more lacked until he even refused to eat properly. He was no longer interested in anything going on around him. Something had evoked this reaction, but Elrond was not sure what had brought this change of mood.
The healer feared that Glorfindel had now decided to leave for the West or much worse to fade. He had to find out.
Elrond was just on his way to talk with Glorfindel and had nearly reached the warrior´s rooms when he heard a small sniff and a forced swallowing. Raising a concerned eyebrow, he quickened his steps and saw how an elfling just vanished around the next corner.
“Elladan?” he called while stopping just in front of Glorfindel´s door.
His oldest son came slowly back around the corner. “Ada?” he queried fruitlessly trying to give his voice a steady tone.
Elrond knelt down at eye-level. “Elladan, what´s wrong, child?”
First hesitating, the elfling walked up into his father´s outstretched arms. Gently Elrond lifted his son´s face with his finger until they locked eyes. “Well?”
Elrond saw the inner struggle. He lifted the boy up and entered a small room just to the left. He used the room to treat minor injuries or discuss further proceedings away from the flurry of the vast infirmary complex.
He placed the elfling on the high table and pulled a chair in front of the counter. Elladan squirmed under the gaze of his father.
Elrond placed a comforting hand on his son´s thigh and waited patiently. Elladan was
not to be pushed. He would come out with information voluntarily or never.
Since their return, the child had never returned to his happy self, and unfortunately, the relationship with his mother had not improved. Elladan was still shunning her.
Elrond had had a long talk with his wife and was sure all misunderstanding had been addressed. She had expressed her anger over his decision not to let her come along, and he had tried to explain his reasons. It had ended with many tears and apologies, and a romantic dinner cook had produced miraculously sensing that the right evening had arrived. Galadriel and Celeborn had just left the morning after, and some contentment had again settled over the valley. All had returned to normal…almost.
There was still Glorfindel.
Finally, Elladan looked up.
“Glorfindel no longer wants us to visit him…” the boy stopped his underlip already quivering.
Elrond looked at his son aghast. Since the trip and their shared experiences Elladan and Elrohir had, if even possible, developed a much deeper relationship with their mentor than before. Elrond had always encouraged this in the hope the children could drag the warrior out of his depressive mood. This seemed to work of some sort. What had happened now?
Not wanting his son to draw back, Elrond inhaled slowly.
“He has said this to you?” he asked carefully. He still could not believe that Glorfindel would confront the boys in such a manner.
Elladan nodded. Elrond frowned. Something essential must have happened to change the warrior´s mind so radically.
“Elladan, maybe he did not mean what…” Elrond had no chance to finish his sentence.
Elladan had looked up with anger in his eyes.
“Yes, he meant it, but it is Naneth´s doing. She is to blame.” The elfling brushed away his father´s hand and hopped from the counter.
Irritation was coloring the healer's voice. What has his wife to do with the deterioration of Glorfindel and his son´s distress?
The elfling was slowly turning around his fists clenched.
“Can you please enlighten me on what is going on, child?” Elrond kept his tone light but insistent, and Elladan was no fool.
“Naneth has scolded Glorfindel that he is responsible for our injuries and she no longer wants us to visit him. She had already caught me twice sneaking in. Today she was really angry. I hate her!”
Elrond swallowed. He could barely believe what his son had told him. Celebrían had never voiced any resentments against Glorfindel in his presence. What had his son witnessed? But if Elladan was right, then he had found the reason for Glorfindel´s deteriorating state, and Elladan´s still repellant attitude toward his mother.
“Elladan calm down, I will talk to your Naneth. Maybe it was a misunderstanding? You…”
The boy looked up his eyes swimming.
“It was no misunderstanding. She has said it at the camp and twice since we arrived home. I have heard it myself. I am no baby, Ada but you do not believe me. I hate you too!”
Before Elrond could react in any way, the elfling had turned and ran from the room.
To be continued…
Chapter 16: an overdue talking and bad dreams
“It is high time for bed,” Elrond said directing a stern gaze at his sons. Already two times they had managed to beg another few moments to stay up longer.
While Elrohir stood up and hugged his mother first and then his father good night, Elladan opened his mouth to protest.
“Elladan, your father, has already said it is time for bed,” Celebrían looked at her son expectantly.
The elfling crawled down from his chair and turned facing his mother.
“You can tell me nothing!”
Celebrían threw down her napkin while Elrond´s eyebrows rose in irritation.
With a scowl, the elfling turned and was already halfway to the door when a chair was shoved back loudly.
“Elladan, come back here at once.”
The sharp tone of his father made the elfling stop and turn. With uncertain eyes, he shuffled closer. When he had reached his parents, he looked at his feet.
“I will no longer tolerate your tone with your mother. You instantly apologize to her.” Elrond´s eyes blazed dangerously.
After a few minutes, the boy raised his eyes. He looked first at his father and then at his mother.
“I am sorry,” he said.
Elrond took a deep breath. Nothing he had hoped for, but it was a beginning.
The healer stepped next to his wife. “You may go, and I do want to see nothing of you until the sun rises; light out immediately, understood?”
“But Erestor promised a story…” Elladan retorted his chin raised in defiance.
“Elladan, I have had it, out!” Elrond´s anger was palpable.
Elrohir quickly ran over and grabbed his brother's shirt. “Come,” he said softly practically dragging his brother from the room.
When the door had closed with a thud, Elrond sat down with a sigh. His wife kept standing with a stony face.
The children's obstinacy against them was their fault. They clearly felt the tension still being present between him and Celebrían. Only last evening Elrond had talked to his wife about her supposed blaming of Glorfindel. The talking had ended with a door in his wife’s face and him sleeping on the couch in his study.
The talk the day before…
Elrond closed the door to his private chambers. Celebrían was sitting at her dressing table brushing her hair.
“Care to help me?” she asked holding out the brush.
Elrond sighed and sat on the bed. “Celebrían I want to talk to you about something Elladan just said.”
Elrond looked at his wife expectantly. He could still not believe what his oldest had told him. His mother had forbidden him to visit Glorfindel and had blamed the warrior for the bad outcome of the trip.
Celebrían laid down the brush and turned on her seat until she faced her husband.
“He complained to you that I caught him visiting Glorfindel—the second time that is, right?”
Elrond narrowed his eyes at his wife´s arrogant tone.
“No, I caught him crying and running away. Only after much coaxing, could I get him to speak.”
Celebrían only raised an annoyed eyebrow.
Elrond had risen, his eyes narrowed. “Celebrían, why in Valar´s name have you blamed Glorfindel for being responsible for the children's injuries and pray tell me why do you forbid our sons to visit with him?”
Celebrían had also risen. For long minutes both elves were staring at one another in anger. “He is responsible that our sons nearly died. He has betrayed the trust we had in him. I have said it from the beginning that it is not safe to let them go, but you overruled me again.”
Elrond took a deep breath. “Again?”
Celebrían waved a hand in dismissal. Elrond stepped closer and grabbed her upper arms and forced himself to stay calm.
“Celebrían, it was an accident. Just inclement weather. Glorfindel would give his life to protect our sons, and he had nearly done so,” he said. His heart still clenched when he thought back at how the warrior had sustained the twins fëar with his own life energy.
Celebrían only raised a derogatory eyebrow at her husband´s words.
“He was not very successful, now was he? Both of my boys nearly died!”
Elrond stared at his wife speechless. Where did the deep aversion against Glorfindel come from?
“I cannot comprehend your feelings. With your careless words, you ruined the weak hope that Glorfindel would overcome his depression and maybe recover. He is on the edge of fading.”
Elrond shook his head and sat down heavily on the bed.
“I only want to protect my children and make sure that anything like this damned trip will never happen again. That they get hurt no more. Unfortunately, the boys are enchanted with Glorfindel. I want to change that. If he leaves for the West; all the better.”
Elrond gasped. He had thought immense worry behind his wife´s repelling attitude toward the warrior, but her words could only be interpreted as hate. His sons injuries had healed completely. There was no reason for such an over-reaction. Only together, the children and Glorfindel would overcome the trauma they had suffered. His sons would be devastated if Glorfindel left them. Did his wife not see this?
Whom did she want to protect or punish? Surely not her children? He looked up sharply. Maybe her anger was directed at him? This he could manage but to direct her anger at others in need was no concept to him.
“Elrond, I want…”
“Celebrian, I have heard enough for today. I have to digest this. I will sleep in my study. I do not wish to share this room with you tonight.”
With that, the Lord of Imladris turned and left his wife staring after him speechless.
Celebrían tossed and turned in her bed. She could not find real sleep. The path to elven dreams was somehow blocked. Doubts were gnawing at her conscience. She did not, of course, hate Glorfindel, but she did not like how her sons hung on every word the warrior said. He had too much influence on the boys. She wanted to protect them as long as possible. Glorfindel encouraged them too much to spread their wings, and she could not tolerate this in such dangerous times. She only wanted to limit the contact her sons did have with the ancient elf.
She doubted that the worsening of his condition had anything to do with her talking to him. Had he not continually agreed with her children that the trip would be a good idea, nothing would have happened. Only with much luck both of her babies had survived, and this was Glorfindel´s responsibility. She had not thought the warrior to be this sensible not to tolerate the truth.
Her husband was again overreacting, not she. If the warrior had lost hope to live on, then it was his decision and not because of her. Elrond was blaming her for nothing. First, he had handled her like a child in forbidding her to come and save her children, and now he was accusing her of being responsible for Glorfindel´s state.
She sighed. This was not talked through for her. Contrary to her expectations she felt suddenly exhausted and soon was fast asleep.
She woke with no memory of her dreaming. Maybe she had slept dreamless—all the better.
She rose and blinked when the light falling through the high window looked much dimmer than the day before. Clouds must have come up last night. She put on her sleeping robe and was determined to break her fast before she would talk to her husband. The big bed had felt very empty, and this quarrel had to be put to rest. A new morning and maybe Elrond would now see reason?
When she headed down the corridor, she frowned. She could barely see the end of the hall and only two of the torches were lit. What was the meaning of this? Elrond always insisted to light all twenty torches, so no child or visitor on a nightly errand would break his neck.
She shook her head but stopped when she headed past a wall hanging. She knew all the tapestries at the Last Homely House because most of them she or her mother had woven, but this one was foreign to her. Not only was it woven in dark colors it also showed a fight scene. She nor anyone else had produced this tapestry, and she had surely not agreed of such a hanging.
What was going on here? She gathered her gown and headed further down the corridor when the door to her husband´s study opened. She stopped, her eyes wide with surprise.
Elrond was standing in the doorway dressed all in black with leather armors protecting arms and legs, a sword attached to his hip and a bow in hand.
Celebrían swallowed. Her husband´s hair was braided like the warriors of old, and he looked ready for battle.
“Elrond, what is the meaning of this? Do you hunt for our breakfast?” Erestor came out after the healer and was also dressed all in black nodded toward her and headed down the corridor.
Elrond looked at her while narrowing his eyes.
“Hilarious, wife. Have you not heard the horn? As if it is not the third time this week we are under attack. This time they have breached the inner circle. Please go to the cellar, where all others are already barricading. I am not sure if we can hold them back.”
Celebrían took a deep breath.
“Elrond, that was funny for such an early morning, but please I am not in the mood for such jokes. I know that Glorfindel is not in charge, but this play is a bit too macabre for my taste.”
Elrond looked at his wife bewildered. What was she talking about?
“I do not know who this Glorfindel should be, but I advise you to head toward the cellar before it is too late.”
Without another word, the Lord of Imladris turned and headed after his advisor.
Celebrían stood there clueless. Had all lost their minds this morning? Orcs had never invaded the valley; they had not even found it. What nonsense was Elrond talking?
When Lindir came running down the corridor, she was about to open her mouth to ask the administrator what was happening, yet the raven-haired elf grabbed her wrist and dragged her toward the staircase.
“My lady, what are you doing still up here? We are under attack.”
Celebrían wrenched her hand free.
“Stop, stop this madness. I will go nowhere until someone has explained to me what is going on.”
Lindir stopped and looked at his lady in anguish.
“My lady, this is no time for discussing. You know better than that. If we do not hide immediately, they will find us…”
“Who?” Celebrían nearly cried.
Lindir blinked. Was his lady testing him, or why did she act as if she did not know what was happening? For many years Imladris was besieged, and occasionally the orc broke through, like today.
“Orcs and Uruk-hai, my lady,” Lindir said unsure looking at the first lady.
Celebrían sighed. “Dear Lindir, that´s impossible. Glorfindel has built a formidable defense around the valley. No evil creature has ever breached our borders. Glorfindel has made sure of that. His legions of warriors have protected us against all evil. So what are you talking about?”
Lindir´s eyes went wide. “Glorfindel? I have never heard of an elf called this, but we could have needed such a formidable warrior in the past. Our valley could still be saved…please my lady, if no miracle happens this day then we will be overrun. Please come with me.”
Celebrían shook her head. She had to admit that Lindir´s words had frightened her, but it was impossible. She knew it otherwise. What weird play was going on here?
She started when she heard the clashing of metal and the usual sneers of orcs. This could not be.
She looked about wildly. “Lindir?” she asked her voice not so sure anymore.
The elf grabbed her wrist once more. “Please, my lady we have to leave—NOW!”
Celebrían swallowed. Whatever was happening she did not understand right now but one thing she knew with certainty. She would go nowhere without her sons. She had to get them first.
Again she wrenched her hand free. “Lindir, I will follow you, but first we have to fetch my sons.”
Why had no one thought about the children, she wondered.
Lindir´s head snapped around. “Sons? What sons? My lady now is not the time for such cruel jokes. You have no sons. And now let us go!”
Without waiting for another comment, the black-haired elf dragged the first lady down the corridor.
The shocked wail of the daughter of Celeborn was drowned out by the howl of the orcs.
To be continued…
Chapter 17: changed reality
Glorfindel tossed in his bed and tried to find a more comfortable position. Something on his back was itching, and a wrinkle in the bedsheets was giving him trouble.
With much effort, he raised his upper body and cursed once more his helplessness. His arms were shaking just from the weight to hold him upright.
He tried to smooth out the wrinkle but was once more unsuccessful. He let out a frustrated sigh and sank back. One of the healers would soon show up anyway.
As much as he wished for someone to help he also dreaded it. To be handled and washed and dressed was not a concept he would ever be comfortable with. Even if they all treated him with the utmost respect, he felt ashamed nonetheless every time.
This could not go on. Elrond´s hopes that the feeling in his lower body would return after the swelling had gone down had been futile. Nothing had changed after Elrond had declared this very fact. He still had no feeling below his waist.
Long days he had tried to come to terms with his new predicament and had even considered only to work as Elrond´s personal assistant, taking over all the paperwork being neglected because of fewer elves able or willing to do it.
He could help to organize Imladris from the desk, read all border reports and add his experience even only with advice. He could help mediate treating agreements, his diplomatic skills only a bit rusty, or so he hoped.
He was just about to carefully think this through when he registered that the visits of the twins had thinned out and finally ceased altogether.
He frowned. Had he done or said something to frighten the children off? As small as they were they were fully aware what had happened to him and handled his immobility much better than he. They had shown no dread to ask him about matters and his feelings. With their carefree spirits, they had given him hours of joy in his darkened existence. They loved to help him eat, dress and were always more than willing to keep him company.
In his opinion, he had also done the boys some good in talking over what had happened. They had voiced their fears, and inner thoughts, not even their father was aware of.
And now they stayed away.
One morning he was sure to hear little feet running down the corridor and in joyful expectancy he awaited them to burst through the door.
Suddenly he could hear a hushed voice, and the light feet trudged away. He frowned. Who had hindered the boy or both to visit him?
His train of thoughts was interrupted when the door opened, and Celebrían entered. Glorfindel raised an eyebrow at seeing her closed features.
“My lady,” he intoned with a carefully neutral voice.
Celebrían inclined her head. Contrary to her earlier visits she did not sit on the edge of the mattress but dragged a chair near.
Without much stalling, she looked up.
“Glorfindel I do not want my sons to visit with you any longer.”
Glorfindel narrowed his eyes and took a deep breath. The fear that he had done something wrong or that he had frightened the children off resurfaced.
“Celebrían, if I have said or done something to upset the children it was not my intention. I will instantly make up for it…”
Elrond´s wife had raised a hand preventing him not to be able to finish his sentence.
“Glorfindel, you have said nothing wrong. I simply do not want them to come here anymore. They are still traumatized, and I will not have them confront every day with the cause of their hurts.”
Glorfindel swallowed. Celebrían was accusing him that the trip had gone wrong and her sons getting injured in the process. Elrond had assured him that both boys had healed or would completely and no lingering effect was to be expected. Celebrían apparently thought otherwise.
Glorfindel was aware that today her parents had departed. Had this changed her mood so radically?
Seeing that there was no response forthcoming she rose.
“I take your silence that you agree. Let some time pass. Maybe we can then reconsider our agreement.”
Glorfindel did not answer. Instead, he closed his eyes until Celebrían had left his rooms. This was not really an agreement; it was an order. What could he say anyway? If the first lady did not want her sons to visit with him, then he had to accept this. He briefly wondered talking to Elrond, yet the couple had inevitably aligned their opinions.
Glorfindel swallowed the threatened tears. All recent thoughts of redirecting his position in this community had vanished into thin air. The twins were like sons to him.
He had always enjoyed teaching and mentoring them, to share his experiences and training the boys into formidable warriors. This had been one of his foundations in life, his mission. The other was to protect the line of Earendil and to keep Imladris safe and hidden.
Both tasks he could no longer perform. What sense did staying in Middle-earth still make?
Glorfindel awoke the next morning and blinked. He could not remember going to sleep. When his memory returned, he sighed. The talk with Celebrían must have drained his reserves if there were some.
Again this unique pain in his heart returned–the first signs of fading. He knew it the instant he felt it and nothing could reverse this process once it started.
He stared out of the window and wondered why the morning shift had not appeared to help him wash and get dressed. Glorfindel sighed. He did not care. It no longer mattered to him.
He grunted when something itched at his ankle. Irritated he rose up and scratched the spot. While retrieving his hand, he stopped in mid-air. His eyes went wide. Why could he move effortlessly and why could he feel the itching in the first place?
His breathing increased. Something had changed. He felt it clearly.
He tossed the cover aside and looked at his feet. Carefully he wiggled his toes. He nearly let out a cry of surprise and immense joy. The feeling had returned. He could feel his thighs, his shins, his feet.
Carefully he moved his feet to the edge of the mattress and let them glide over the rim. He sighed contently when his bare feet touched the plush carpet. He could feel the rich texture, the coolness from the floor below. What a bliss.
With some dread, he carefully rose to his feet and wondered how easily this was accomplished. No pain, no swaying, all felt as it ever did.
He shook his head. Elrond had been right after all. He looked around and grabbed his sleeping robe. Since the healers did not come to him this morning, he would go to them. He was agitated like a child to see their faces. Elrond would be in the healing ward as every morning making his tour.
The warrior hastened down the corridor still savoring how all his motoric abilities were working like before. He refrained from running.
When he passed Elrond´s study, he stopped bewildered when the door opened, and the healer stepped out. He had expected the Elf-lord at the healing ward. All the better. Elrond would be overjoyed to see him.
Glorfindel waited at the healer's reaction. The reaction came, yet much different than Glorfindel had expected.
“Ah, already awake. A long night, yes? Maybe you could dress. We do not want to scare anyone, do we?”
Without another word the healer turned and left him standing speechless.
Glorfindel swallowed. What was happening here? The feeling had returned to his body, and he could again walk. Something Elrond had wished for desperately, and now he had nothing more to say then some sarcastic words?
Glorfindel grabbed the wall for support. The joy had been intoxication, but the fall down made him shiver.
He slowly walked forward again and still tried to solve this riddle. He had nearly reached the Hall of Fire when the great double door opened. He held his breath when he spotted Celebrían at the door.
When she looked at him with a raised eyebrow, he narrowed his eyes.
“Celebrían I can walk on my own,” he said for lack of anything smart to say.
The first lady let out her breath.
“Not to ignore. A real accomplishment after your late night´s drinking splurge.” Her laughter rang in his ears.
Drinking splurge? What was she talking about?
He resumed his way suddenly no longer willing to visit the great hall. He hastened down the staircase, through the corridor and quickly out of the house. The many elves he traversed did not even notice him passing.
He ran over the grass and around a bend where he knew there was a bench. With trembling legs and shallow breathing, he sat down. First, organize my thoughts, he demanded of himself.
“Glorfindel, are you alright?”
The warrior started at the voice. In his haste, he hadn´t seen Erestor sitting on the other end of the bench.
“Alright? Do I look for you okay?” he retorted while briefly closing his eyes.
He opened them quickly when Erestor laughed.
“My dear Glorfindel, you look like you do every morning. Sleeping long, recovering from too much wine and a bit dizzy. Nothing special. But why do you care? Others have long started their day. You are just yourself–as always.”
Glorfindel swallowed. He blinked several times, but the image in front of his eyes did not change. This could not be. What were they all talking about? He had just recovered, and no one was noticing that? Anger rose in him.
“I had expected more attentiveness from you but most of all mind your tone. I´m the Troop Commander of this valley and well in my rights to give you orders.”
Erestor threw his head back and laughed even harder.
“Troop Commander. Hey, Glorfindel what was in this wine last night? You have never been and will never be in such a position. Thalan would die laughing if he could hear you. He is in charge since I can remember. Not very successful, this I have to admit…”
Erestor suddenly sobered. “Imladris would not be invaded once in a while…ah, what nonsense…Glorfindel, thank you for a good laugh this morning.”
With that, the dark-haired elf turned and left.
Glorfindel stared at him a second time speechless this morning. All around him had changed. And not for the better. What had Erestor said? Imladris was not guarded properly and therefore overrun from time to time? What a horrific thought. He had ever made sure that the valley remained hidden. Erestor had acted as if he had never done such.
He shook his head. So much did not make sense. All he had met treated him as if he was the cause for the shortcoming of the defenses. As if he was only unworthy, lazy and not able to accomplish anything. How ridiculous.
The joy over his recovery had vanished. He had to investigate what was wrong here. Slowly he rose. Elrond would know the answer, and this time he would talk clear words.
He headed back inside the house, and when he had reached the healer´s study, he hesitated only briefly before knocking.
After a grumpy “enter” he opened the door.
Elrond looked at him irritated.
“Glorfindel, I have no stomach for your complaints. Please let us talk another time. Orcs have just crossed the Bruinen.”
Glorfindel’s head jerked toward the great window.
“What?” he cried.
The Master of Imladris raised a surprised eyebrow.
“Calm down Glorfindel. Nothing new. As you well know, we have nothing to protect the valley. Neither the warriors nor a competent leader.”
Glorfindel narrowed his eyes.
“I´m guarding the valley. I´m more than competent. Why does everyone intend to insult me, what´s the matter?”
Elrond only raised an eyebrow.
“You? Since when? Glorfindel I´m not in the mood.”
The healer started when Glorfindel stepped forward and grabbed his upper arms.
“Elrond stop this farce. Only yesterday you pleaded with me not to give up hope, and you still voiced your hope that I would recover and today you act as if you know nothing of all this? Is it some sort of punishment? Are you also of the opinion that it is best I stop meeting with the twins?”
The healer´s eyes went wide. He wrenched free.
“Very good, Glorfindel. Re-opening old wounds is your specialty, right?”
“Pardon?” Glorfindel growled now thoroughly confused.
He started however when tears appeared in the healer´s eyes. Elrond turned already shaking.
“Glorfindel not…” He nearly pleaded with a thin voice.
The warrior advanced again.
“Elrond speak plainly. I do not understand.” His tone was icy now.
Elrond´s head jerked up at the sharp tone. He slowly turned.
“Alright, mighty Glorfindel. My sons died nearly three-hundred years ago. Murdered in their beds. Only being elflings of ten summers. Orcs slaughtered them and hacked them into pieces. And all because of you. Again you had more important things to do than your task in guarding our borders. Four-hundred elves died this day, including the twins…” the healer´s voice broke.
“My heart broke this day. You promised to protect them…”
Glorfindel had stepped back in shock. He could barely believe what the healer had told him. He had neglected his duties and was responsible for this horrific happenings? Impossible. This was not the Imladris he knew. What was happening with him?
His world begun to spin. This could not be. He sank to his knees, and the outside world faded into nothingness.
To be continued…
Chapter 18: waking up
Celebrían woke up a small scream still on her lips. She swallowed after quickly closing her mouth. What in the name of the Valar had happened? Her home, the people she knew, and all circumstances around her had changed, no, twisted into an unreal nightmare.
For several minutes she kept lying on her side slowly breathing in and out. The large bed felt so empty, so cold as Elrond was sleeping in his study after their last quarrel. She sobbed. All she had wanted to do was to protect her children. She never intended to hurt anyone, and yet, she had lashed out at Glorfindel, Erestor, and Elrond and she had even opened a ridge to her eldest son. What was happening with her? She felt so stupid all of a sudden.
`You have no sons´ constantly echoed in her mind. Why? Why should reality change and forget that she had two wonderful children? Elrond had been so hard, not the kind elf she had always known, and Glorfindel had not even existed?
What was the message of that…dream?
Was it a dream or had she been punished for something she did or did not do?
“That is an interesting question, child, is it not?”
She jerked upright at the softly spoken words. Celebrían blinked until her eyes had adjusted to the dimness of the room as it was still early morning the sun just rising.
In the far corner of the room, she could make out a tall, dark-haired figure sitting in a comfortable chair. Even if she could not see his face in the darkness, she knew instantly who was sitting in her favorite chair where she had nursed her children.
“My Lord Namó,” she said her voice not as strong as she had wished. Her eyes were fixed on the rich dark blue robe flowing on the floor, the beautifully embroidered sleeves and long black braided hair with many sparkling stones woven into it.
“Be at peace, child,” the Lord of Mandos said while he rose and came toward the bed. Celebrían swallowed when the Vala sat next to her on the mattress. She was wearing only her nightgown, and was sure that the mighty lord could look straight into her soul regardless of what she was wearing.
She looked down at her cold hands. When no further word was spoken, she hesitantly raised her eyes. The Lord of Mandos was looking at her with an unreadable expression. She could see kindness in the brown depth but also reproach. She swallowed. Alright, she had done something wrong.
As if reading her inner thoughts–what he actually did–the Vala cleared his throat.
“I am pleased you have come to the right conclusion, daughter of Galadriel. Your behavior as of late has set processes in motion that should not have come to pass.”
Celebrían swallowed. She had realized that herself already but…
A finger was set under her chin gently forcing her to look the Vala in the eye.
“Your heart is right child and your motivations high-minded, yet sometimes we have to look past our worries.”
She nodded her chin still in the Vala´s grip.
“But what of the dream? It was a dream, right? What was the meaning?”
Anxiously she wrung her hands. The Vala took his time to answer her.
“Yes, it was a dream. Can you not guess what I wanted to show you?”
Celebrán lowered her eyes, suddenly no longer able to endure the burning gaze. She did partially understand what her fault was. Had she no right to worry, to voice her fears, to wish her children safe?
“Look at me, Celebrían!”
The command was soft, yet there was no way to ignore it. She looked again at the Vala.
“I wanted to show you an Imladris without a mighty spirit to guard it…”
“Glorfindel…” the wife of Elrond breathed.
“Yes, Glorfindel. We have appointed this task to him, and it is not your task to deter him from his way.”
Celebrían opened her eyes wide. She knew a command when she heard one.
“Imladris would not be same without Glorfindel. Your sons would have never been born.” The voice of the Vala had softened, his finger no longer under her chin.
Celebrían lowered her head and started sobbing. All the strains of the last few months now found release. All the worries and fears could run free. After long moments she quieted, and her heart no longer felt so burdened. A gentle arm had been placed around her shoulders.
But something else happened. She suddenly realized how she had acted–selfish, inconsiderate, impatient. She had wronged many around her but most of all her sons, her husband…Glorfindel.”
“I am so sorry; I will make up for it. Forgive me,” she whispered not aware that she was alone in her room.
Glorfindel was awake from one moment to the other. Despite the abruptness, he could clearly remember his dream. Glorfindel knew it was a dream, yet a small part of him dared to hope otherwise. The golden-haired warrior tried to rise and instantly knew that he could not. He tried again to wriggle his toes but could not even feel if there were toes to move.
He sighed. So much for reality. The dream was weird, dark and horrific, yet the awareness also held much he was not looking forward to. He still could not move, yet he could still feel the thrill from the dream discovering that in his dreams at least all was well with him. The tingling sensation was still coursing through his veins but was quickly abating.
He lay still again waiting for one of the healer´s to arrive like every morning. Again he wondered what was keeping them so long. It was already past the appointed time.
Suddenly, however, he was aware of another presence in the room. He jerked upright as much as his limited movement allowed him.
“Easy child, time is of no importance, just now.”
Glorfindel swallowed. He would have recognized this voice under thousands.
“Lord Namó,” he said carefully neutral. The Lord of Mandos was the least he had expected here–and truth be told–wanted to meet.
A silent laughter echoed through the room.
“Fortunately I do not ask for permission to visit, and I think you have thought of me a lot lately, or am I mistaken Glorfindel?”
Glorfindel sank back on his pillow with a groan. Never challenge the soul keeper. He had learned this while dwelling in his halls long ago. And of course, the Lord of Mandos was right. Had he not recently doubted his worth of existing?
His eyes, however, opened again when he felt a weight lowered on the mattress. The Vala was looking down at him with an unreadable expression. Glorfindel let the scrutiny happen. What was there to hide anyway? His condition was evident even if he doubted the Vala would need eyes for confirmation.
Glorfindel felt more and more uncomfortable under the stern gaze even if he had much experience in dealing with this mighty Vala. What did the Doomsman of the Valar want from him? Why had he even bothered to visit? In his current state, he was useless. For himself, for his lord and the Valar.
“And there you err, young one. Life is never useless. How often do I have to remind you of that?”
The warrior took a deep breath.
“I can no longer protect the line of Eärendil. You have to find someone better suited,” he said bitterly not able to look the other in the eye.
“There is no other. We have appointed this task to you. I think I showed you clearly in your dream what will happen when no mighty spirit guards this valley, have I not?”
Glorfindel heard the sarcastic undertone, and it made him angry. Had Namó no eyes? Could he not see that he was no longer able, even if he was willing?
“My eyes are pretty good, child, yet there are other ways to serve and protect. It does not always have to be a sword to do what must be done.”
Glorfindel snorted. Oh yes, he would defend Imladris from his bed. He had many good warriors, but they could only function with a competent leader and strategist. Someone who lived, breathed and sensed danger. Someone much older than any evil of late. Someone like him.
“I´m sorry to disappoint you, but these times are over. Someone else has to take over now.”
Glorfindel defiantly looked up to see the Vala´s reaction. He was not in the least surprised when the figure was no longer there, yet he started at the very present voice in his head.
“And there you err again.”
Closing his eyes in frustration, Glorfindel wept silently.
Elrond looked up when a knock sounded at his study door. It was still very early in the morning, and he could not guess who wanted to speak to him in the wee hours. He had not slept well and had hoped for a few more moments alone with his thoughts before he started the day. He slowly rose from the makeshift bed on his couch.
The door opened before he had the chance to invite the visitor. He narrowed his eyes at the intrusion. He had not even stored away his bedclothes. All of Imladris knew by now that he was sleeping in his study, but he had no intention to make it this obvious.
However, he raised an eyebrow in surprise when his wife slipped inside wearing only her nightgown. He instantly saw while looking at her face, that she was troubled, if not highly irritated. Her defiant expression was gone; her overbearing attitude had vanished. Elrond swallowed. He almost saw the wife he loved dearly, restored.
Seeing his hesitancy and scrutiny, Celebrían stopped halfway.
“May I speak with you?” she asked softly, her voice nearly pleading. Elrond blinked. What had happened. His heart still ached but went out, hesitantly at first.
“Of course,” he answered and made an inviting gesture toward the couch. Slowly she came forward, and after Elrond had sat down and patted the place beside him, she followed suit. Wringing her hands and looking at her feet she took a deep breath.
“Elrond, do you still love me?” she asked, hesitantly raising her eyes.
Elrond swallowed. How deeply had they hurt each other for such a question? He had always loved this woman and would always. Nothing could ever change that. They had some discrepancies, yes, but never would this waiver his love for her. Did she not know–feel–that?
Misinterpreting the silence, Celebrían rose desperately trying to prevent her tears from falling. She had just taken one step when gentle fingers curled around her left wrist.
“Cel, stay, please.”
Elrond had also risen. With little effort, he turned the slender body of his wife and enveloped her in a hug. She hesitated at first, but quickly she fiercely returned the embrace.
Elrond took her face in his hands and placed a kiss first to her forehead and then captured her lips. Only the need for air let them part.
“Of course I still love you. I always have and I always will. Nothing can change that.”
Celebrían nodded and swallowed.
“I love you too, and I´m here to say that I´m sorry. I only wanted…I had hoped…I thought…” long held back tears drowned out her words.
Elrond only held her close until her sobs had stopped. Again they sat down on the couch.
She took her husband´s hands in hers.
“Elrond, I´m sorry for my behavior lately. I overreacted out of hurt and anger. I was angry that you did not let me come with you, I was mad at Glorfindel for letting harm come to the boys, but now I understand your motivations. I´m sorry that I nearly slapped you, that´s inexcusable. I have wronged you. I hope you can forgive me.”
Elrond placed a finger over her lips.
“It was as much my fault. I had no right to deny you coming with me, but all my doing was born out of worry that even more harm could come to someone I love. Celebrían I could not bear the thought of something happening to you. Alone the imagination that the twins had been hurt nearly drove me insane.”
Celebrían nodded again.
“I know. I have already promised I would make it up and I will, beginning with you,” again her lips captured Elrond´s.
“Promised whom?” Elrond asked between two kisses.
“My dear husband, I have just laid bare my soul to you, but you do not need to know all my secrets.”
Elrond smiled also. He could pretty well guess who had changed his wife´s mind so drastically. He did not care, as long as his family could be restored as before.
Celebrían opened the door of her sons rooms silently. As always the twins slept in one bed. The second bed was never unoccupied. Her children had always been close, yet since this trip, they had become even closer. As much as she admired the connected souls, sometimes she forgot that she had to deal with two very different personalities. Often blending similar, hard to distinguish, yet sometimes more than different.
Especially Elladan. He had always shown her when he did not agree with her opinion. Some kind of rift had built up the last few weeks between mother and son. The twins had reacted strongly to the discord of their parents. While Elrohir nearly faded, Elladan had decided to punish his mother in shunning her for hurting his brother. Until today he had not spoken more than the absolute necessary words with her.
Celebrían lowered her eyes. If she did not turn from her path, she would fray the bond with her children, especially Elladan´s, beyond repair. Elladan was still a child, but he would not stray from his path or forgive her quickly. Whatever she had to say she would have to do it whole-heartedly otherwise she would lose one son and with him the other too. Elrohir would always follow his brother; she was sure of that.
Just, when she still was not certain whether to wake them, Elrohir sensed her presence and his eyes came into focus.
“Nana,” he said softly while already scrambling into her lap. When he had snuggled up to her, she stroked the black tresses and inhaled the scent of her child. Outwardly all injuries had healed, but she could sense the still lingering echo of fading. She shuddered. This should not have happened.
While still rubbing the younger twin´s back she looked up when Elladan sat upright. Long minutes mother and son looked at one another. She extended one hand, but Elladan did not move.
Celebrían took a deep breath.
“Elladan,” she said softly. “I´m here to apologize to you and your brother. I´m sorry that I caused you two distress.”
While Elrohir tightened his hold with his little arms around her middle Elladan did not even blink.
Celebrían sighed. Determined little boy.
“Elladan, love. I was very worried about you two. Can you not understand that? I wanted nothing more than to envelop you in my arms…”
“You nearly slapped Ada,” Elladan said accusingly not letting his mother finish.
Celebrían swallowed. She had not even noticed that this scene had been witnessed by her sons.
“That was not right, and I´m sorry about that. I already apologized to your Ada, and he forgave me,” she said with a little hope that her son would also.
“I forgive you, Nana. You love Ada, don’t you?”
The doubt in Elrohir´s eyes nearly broke her restraint to hold her tears in check.
“Yes, of course, and nothing will ever change that.”
Elrohir was perfectly content with this admission, Elladan, not so much. He still looked at his mother doubtful; gratefully he was no longer glaring.
After long minutes of silence, Elladan looked up.
“I accept your apology, but I hope you will not fight against Ada again.” This was a simple statement. Celebrían had a flash like vision. Seeing her son already grown looking at her with the same sincere eyes.
She knew her son was not convinced easily but she would do all to win him back.
“I promise, my son. Nothing like that will ever happen again. Now, will you join us and come into my arms?”
Reluctantly the older twin moved closer until all three elves were snuggled against one another on the large bed. Soon the even breaths indicated that they had fallen asleep.
Half an hour later, Elrond silently opened the door and slipped inside. A relieved smile crossed his face. He could clearly see the mending bonds, the vibrant strings slowly glowing golden again and growing stronger. He sighed. His family was on the way to fully heal.
Still, there was one left to worry about…
To be continued…
Chapter 19: A miracle
Glorfindel sighed after another embarrassing morning. He had been bathed and re-dressed and was now waiting for someone to bring him his morning meal.
While his weird dream had disturbed him, the talk with the Vala had disturbed him even more. What had the Vala meant that he was erring in saying he could no longer protect this valley? How could he in his current condition?
He shook his head in frustration. There had to be an end in asking and doubting and hoping. He had made up his mind and would act upon his decision.
Before the elves who had been assigned to help him with his morning chores had left, he had expressed his wish to visit the garden, but the healer on duty was reluctant and promised to counsel with Master Elrond.
Glorfindel closed his eyes in frustration. What could possibly happen in the garden to him? Were they afraid that he would break his neck?
He had to laugh aloud at the absurdity of this statement.
While he still tried to find his inner equilibrium the door opened, and he heard someone enter. Another one telling him what to do and not to do.
“You will not visit the garden in your nightgown.”
Glorfindel opened his eyes in surprise at the Master Healer´s voice.
Long moments the elves looked at one another.
“I would go there naked if someone would let me,” Glorfindel said softly. “Elrond, I need to feel the sun on my skin.”
`One last time,' he silently added.
Glorfindel could not place the look in the healer´s eyes but was yet again surprised by the Half-elf´s reaction.
“Alright,” what are you waiting for?”
Half an hour later, Glorfindel was sitting in a comfortable rocking chair under a mighty oak; a light blanket over his knees and a refreshing lemonade next to him on a bench.
He inhaled deeply and closed his eyes in content. `I will miss this valley,' he thought sadly.
Elrond inhaled deeply after he had returned inside. He headed straight into his study and closed the door quickly so as to be undisturbed. He had sensed Glorfindel´s depressing mood. He did not have to be a mind reader to know why the warrior wanted so desperately to be in the garden to feel the sun.
Glorfindel had decided to fade. Elrond swallowed even if the healer in him cried out at him to do something––anything!
Yet, there was nothing he could further do, at least not physically. Against his hopes and prognosis, the warrior had remained paralyzed, even if nothing physically did warrant this.
Glorfindel´s injuries to his back had healed, and he should have been able to walk. Why he did not or could not, was a mystery to Elrond.
Even if the healer could understand the warrior´s motives not to remain here in his state, the friend in him still denied accepting this decision. Again, he had tried to reason with the warrior, to give it more time, he had pleaded to give nature a chance, had even called at the warrior's famous known pride and stubbornness, but all his attempts had been ignored. Glorfindel had decided to give up, and the process of fading had long started.
Even if his wife wanted to speak with Glorfindel and apologize for her former accusations, Elrond doubted that this would reverse the effect. He was not even sure if the accusation had started it, enhanced it maybe.
He was ripped from his thoughts when the door to his study was pushed open and banged on the wall with a thud. He closed his eyes shortly. This could only be one of his sons or both.
He quickly masked his features not wanting to let his children see what thoughts were coursing through his mind.
“Ada, Nana has allowed us to visit Glorfindel, but he is not in his rooms. Where can we find him?”
“Are we allowed to visit with him?” Elrohir asked from behind his brother.
Despite his dark mood, the healer had to smile at the two rapidly fired questions. Many elves often had trouble with the manner of asking at the same time. He had long grown accustomed to it.
“Glorfindel is in the garden under the old oak near the path leading to the stables and yes, Elrohir, you both are allowed.”
After two identical whoops of joy, the door was closed with the same bang as opened before.
Elrond sighed. ´Please open the door carefully and do not bang it shut. Thank you, my sons, for again ignoring me´.
He shook his head. Maybe the children could make an impression on the depressed warrior. He doubted that.
When another knock sounded at his door, he was on the verge of denying entry when he quickly reconsidered. No one was to blame for the situation and should be reprimanded, so he called to enter.
When the stable master entered, Elrond took a deep breath. He had totally forgotten about a fact, which would have brought great joy to his heart under other circumstances.
Therefore, he only inclined his head.
“Master Elrond, last night it happened. You wanted to be informed!”
“Thank you Calan; I will be along shortly.”
The stable master frowned at the lack of enthusiasm of his lord but refrained from commenting.
After some moments, Elrond rose. This happening would sadly change nothing.
Glorfindel watched the twins play ´warrior sparring,' as they called it, on the grass with their tiny swords he had given them a year ago. Real toys, still it could not hurt to practice early enough.
How he had wished to teach them in earnest, to form them to formidable warriors. Someone else had to perform this task now. He closed his eyes and continued to soak as much energy from the sun as possible. This was his mission today.
After a while, he opened his eyes. He must have dozed off. The sun was already descending, and he could no longer hear the childrens cries. Maybe someone had called for them to come inside. He was glad that he remained unbothered during this beautiful afternoon.
´Thanks to Elrond.'
However, the wooden swords were still lying in the grass abandoned. He frowned puzzled. Whoever had retrieved the twins would not have left them behind knowing how much they loved them.
A high-pitched cry jerked his attention toward the stable.
“Elrohir, watch out!”
Glorfindel´s blood ran cold when he saw one of the twins––Elrohir––balancing on the stable roof. His heart nearly missed a beat when the elfling swayed and stumbled.
He quickly gauged the distance to the building and knew with some luck he could reach it and hopefully catch the falling child before he hit the ground.
He flung the blanket aside and without a conscious thought, ran at a mad dash toward the stable. He reached out and felt the weight of the elfling crash into his arms. The momentum ripped him from his feet. At the last moment, he rolled on his back so that the child´s fall was cushioned. With a quick glance, he made sure that Elladan was still on the roof.
“Do not move, Elladan, sit down. I will come to you shortly,” he called.
The warrior inhaled deeply to slow his rapidly beating heart.
“Child are you all right?” he asked while carefully cupping Elrohir´s face in his hands. He was still lying on his back the elfling on top of him.
Elrohir´s eyes were wide open. Only now registering that he was safe, he began to cry loudly. Glorfindel gently hugged the elfling to his chest and rocked back and forth.
“Shhh, nothing happened, you are safe.”
With his free hand, he had made a quick check of the little body for injuries but could find nothing obvious. Only after long moments, the elfling quieted and rested his head on the broad chest.
Only now the world around him began to exist again. Glorfindel was surrounded by many elves staring at him in wonder and at the elfling in sympathy.
With relief, Glorfindel registered that Calan, the stable master, had climbed on the roof and came down with a shocked Elladan in his arms. He placed the elfling next to the warrior.
“Thank you,” was all the fair-haired elf could say. The rising murmur unnerved Glorfindel. What was so special about rescuing a child from a fall? Every other elf would have done the same. Why were all looking at him in wonder?
He slowly rose to his feet, Elrohir still in his arms. He sighed relieved when he saw Elrond come running down the lawn. Someone must have informed him. Now the healer could make a thorough examination.
When Elrond had reached them, he looked with the same consternation at the warrior like all the other elves around. Glorfindel, already wanting to hand the elfling over, frowned.
“What?” he asked irritated. Elrohir should be the reason for the healer´s concern.
After a brief glance at both of his sons, a big smile suddenly crossed the healer´s face.
“Glorfindel…” he breathed.
The warrior´s knees suddenly went weak. Elrond was just able to receive his son when the warrior sank to his knees. Convinced that his son was all right, only shocked, Elrond handed the boy carefully to his mother who had just appeared beside him.
Elrond knelt next to his friend.
“Glorfindel, are you all right?” he asked a hand on the other´s shoulder.
“I was able to catch him,” was all, the warrior retorted, staring at his hands.
Elrond nodded and laughed. “Yes, my friend, and you ran all the way.”
Glorfindel´s head snapped up. Only now the words were sinking in.
Elrond rose and extended his hand. Glorfindel reluctantly let himself be hoisted to his feet. He felt no discomfort, no pain, only a slight weakness from the fright the elfling had given him.
Slowly a smile was spreading across his face while the surrounding elves cheered at their captain. Elrond was smiling too, gathering Elladan in his arms. With a quick check, he made sure that the other twin was all right too. Thanks to Glorfindel. The lecture could wait until later––much later.
Elrond held his breath when Celebrían––Elrohir now in her arms––walked toward Glorfindel.
She kissed the warrior on the cheek and hugged him with one hand.
“Thank you for rescuing my son. I want to apologize to you for my unjust behavior toward you. I should have apologized done long ago. Can you forgive me?”
Elrond blinked when he saw tears glistening in the warrior´s eyes. A rare thing.
Glorfindel swallowed. “You are welcome, my lady. There is nothing to forgive. I am glad I could be of service,” he replied with a perfect bow.
Celebrían took a deep breath and squeezed the elf´s arm. She looked at her son sternly.
Elrohir squirmed under her gaze. He looked up uncertainly.
“I´m sorry Glorfindel. Thank you for catching me…” the elfling swallowed.
Glorfindel stretched out his arms and knelt. Both boys ran into the comforting embrace.
“You are welcome, both of you,” he said while placing a kiss on each head.
When the crowd had dispersed, Elrond took an arm around his wife´s shoulders and steered her toward the house.
“Glorfindel, are you coming?” he asked laughingly over his shoulder.
The warrior nodded and followed the couple with an elfling on each arm. Despite the joyful mood, Elrond had a critical eye on the warrior. Glorfindel´s gait was still a bit unsure but nothing to worry about. Elrond took a very deep breath. Just what he had so desperately hoped for. The injury had not been physical.
“You can walk,” Elrohir said in wonder.
“Yes, I can,” Glorfindel replied a smile firmly attached to his face.
“Are you finally ready?” Glorfindel asked irritated. For half an hour Elrond was examining him, and there seemed to be no end.
Elrond smiled. He only wanted to make sure what his eyes had already told him. The warrior was back to normal. The interaction of body and mind was working again. This was still a miracle to him. Only in union, all could function perfectly.
“Yes, I´m ready, Glorfindel. Nonetheless, I would advise you to take it slow. Many of your muscles and sinews are still untrained. An inconsiderate movement can cause extensive damage.”
Glorfindel nodded. “I will keep that in mind, Elrond. Thank you for everything.”
“It is I that has to thank you, my friend,” Elrond replied squeezing the other´s arm firmly.
The gratitude in both elves´ eyes made more words unnecessary.
When Elrond said nothing more, Glorfindel hopped from the high examination table.
“Right, I have a valley to guard, my lord. If you would excuse me?”
Before the warrior could turn, Elrond grabbed his arm.
“Glorfindel, one moment I have something to show you.”
The fair-haired elf raised an eyebrow. When Elrond only smiled and turned he frowned.
What was the Elf-lord up to?
Curiously, Glorfindel followed the healer out of the room. Elrond descended the great staircase, crossed the hall and walked outside. He did not once turn, evidently sure that the warrior would follow him.
Glorfindel did just that, intrigued where the healer would lead him. When Elrond turned around a bent, Glorfindel knew that the healer was heading toward the stables.
Glorfindel swallowed. Since his return, he had not been at the stables. Too sore was his heart over the loss of his faithful companion. He had not had the heart to choose another horse just now. For what should he have anyway? Why was Elrond probing this wound?
With a heavy heart, Glorfindel stopped at the stall door. He had to choose another companion, yet in doing so, he would finally accept that Asfaloth was gone––forever. Knowing that his friend had found a peaceful last resting place gladdened his heart somewhat.
“Glorfindel, are you coming?” Elrond´s voice sounded impatient.
Glorfindel took a deep breath. He stepped into the shady aisle of the stable and stopped dead in his tracks.
Elrond was kneeling in the middle corridor a very fidgety snow-white foal in his arms. When the warrior came into sight, the healer whispered something into the little horse´s ear and gave it a light push.
The wobbling baby horse walked forward eyeing the tall warrior curiously and with a bit of fright.
Glorfindel swallowed and quickly knelt. The foal stalked forward until it had reached him. After a brief hesitation, it walked into the elf´s arms and placed his head on the warrior´s forearm. Glorfindel carefully enveloped the tiny animal in a gentle hug tears in his eyes. He stroked the fluffy fur and felt the foal already relaxing against him.
Drawing back a bit, he looked into the great brown eyes. The colt stood perfectly still looking back at the ancient being. Time was of no essence right now. When the little horse snorted softly, Glorfindel released his hold, and the foal raced from the stable into the paddock jumping left and right like a goat.
Elrond stepped next to Glorfindel. Drawing his gaze from the perfect being, Glorfindel looked at the healer.
“He´s for me?” When the healer nodded, Glorfindel inhaled deeply.
“He´s perfect, Elrond.”
Briefly, he regretted now having replaced his old companion.
Elrond placed a comforting hand on the other´s shoulder.
“Not replaced, Glorfindel––continued.”
When the warrior looked puzzled, Elrond smiled.
“The foal is a one hundred percent son of Asfaloth. He had already sired this little one before your trip.”
Glorfindel looked at the healer in awe. He hadn´t known this. Elrond must have done it in secrecy.
“Thank you,” was all he could breathe, his gaze already returning at the antics of the young colt.
“You are welcome, my friend,” Elrond retorted. “Now, tell me, what shall we call him?”
Before Glorfindel could answer, the foal was again racing into the aisle nudging Glorfindel with his head and whinnying loudly after stopping abruptly.
Glorfindel knelt, and again elf and horse looked long at one another. The fair-haired elf started. The shape of the eyes was so familiar, the golden specks around the pupil, the long curved lashes, the shape of the nose and this look…
Again the horse whinnied softly, parting his little teeth and softly biting the warrior´s left forefinger, just as Asfaloth had always done.
After another soft nudge, the baby horse raced again from the stall. Glorfindel stood with a frown on his face. This was definitely no son of Asfaloth; this was Asfaloth reborn. Glorfindel closed his eyes and sent a heartfelt prayer to every Valar listening.
“Are you alright?” Elrond asked concerned, seeing the inner struggle of his friend.
Glorfindel opened his eyes and smiled at the healer.
“All is perfect, Elrond. You asked for a name? What other than Asfaloth would be appropriate?”
Elrond raised an eyebrow in surprise. What reasons would Glorfindel have to call the little horse like his old companion? Watching Glorfindel look back at the foal, a thought came to his mind. Surely that horse could not be Asfaloth…could it? Glorfindel merely smiled at his friend and shrugged before sending a thoughtful look after the young colt. Stranger things have happened.
“Then, Asfaloth it shall be.”
I would like to thank my wonderful beta reader, LadyLindariel for her constant help and support and most of all for her excellent idea of having the foal being Asfaloth reborn. Thank you, my friend. Lai
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