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Chapter 12 “I will learn”
Summer 2941 TA
The bowstring sang and the arrow flew straight and landed with a predictable and yet still satisfying “thuwp!” as it hit the practice target boss made of tightly bound together straw placed 30 feet away. Elladan lowered his bow and looked down at his young charge, holding his own specially carved bow and enviously looking at the perfect placing of the arrow. “Estel, can you see what I did? Can you tell me why the arrow flew true and straight?”
The ten year-old boy looked back at his foster brother, and for a moment Elladan thought he saw his dear friend, Arathorn looking back at him through young eyes. The moment passed as the child’s voice answered, “Aye, your elbow was straight and you stilled your release hand and then released the arrow. But ‘Dan I did exactly the same thing and mine still did not fly right!” Estel ended with an exasperated tone.
“That’s only because you need the practice, muindor nin!” came a voice from behind him. Estel looked in the direction of the voice and saw Elladan’s twin brother, Elrohir joining them, bow in hand. “You know,” he said a theatrical whisper, “My brother was not always this good, I remember when he was not much older than you, shooting a squirrel when he was aiming for the target!”
Elrohir shot an amused look at Elladan, who laughingly leapt to his own defense, “I was aiming for the leaf behind the squirrel, the poor squirrel just happen to get in the way!”
“Poor squirrel indeed! Elladan was so upset that he took the little thing to Adar to try and save it.” Elrohir continued.
“Adar said that he would try. I remember being racked with guilt. I could not even eat supper that evening. ”
“Good thing you did not! As I remember we had squirrel pie!”
“We did not. Later Adar said that the squirrel made a full recovery.”
“He said that, aye. But what really happened…well.”
Elladan glared at Elrohir, who was clearly enjoying baiting his older brother. Elrohir was always commenting upon his brother’s soft heart saying it would be his downfall. The truth was they shared the same heart, but Elrohir was loath to admit to such weakness. If he did then he could not taunt his older brother, something he took far too much delight in.
“Just shoot your bow and have done with this silly conversation.” Elladan said with mock sternness. Turning his attention upon the smirking ten-year-old, “My Little brother,” Elladan’s voice emphasized “little”, “does have one good point at least,” An undignified “gawf!” was heard from Elrohir’s direction after he let fly a perfectly loosed arrow landing dead center of his chosen target. Estel emitted a short laugh before returning his attention back towards Elladan and his instruction, “You will improve; all it takes is practice. When you are older you will develop into a fine archer.”
Estel sighed; it was all he was ever told. When he was older. Practice. Practice. Practice. Determined to make a good shot he lifted his bow and made ready to shoot. He calmed his mind, stilled his elbow and aimed for the target and let fly the arrow. Five more of his specially made arrows found their path into the boss before Elladan would allow him to retrieve. Anxious to read his success Estel, still clutching his small bow, fairly ran the thirty paces to the boss, leaving his foster brothers, who needed to retrieve their own arrows, in his excited wake. “ ‘Dan! ‘Roh! Look!” His grouping was not entirely successful. Two had strayed far off the mark, but sitting there nestled in the dead center of the target was one of his small white fletched arrows and another was close to it.
“Most successful, muindor nin! Most successful! I think we will make an archer of you sooner than expected!” Elladan said, kneeling next to the excited child, and tousling the boy’s long braided hair, his smiling blueeyes filled with praise for the child.
A laugh was heard from the adjacent boss, “ I think we will indeed, and no poor squirrel will have to pay the price for such achievement, either!” Elrohir chimed in to further tease his older brother. Elladan shot him a look of amused annoyance, “Just keep at it, ‘Roh, and I’ll start to list a few of your less successful training escapades, Hmm! Like the time you tried to mount Adar’s horse thinking that…”
“All right, all right! Truce! Truce!” Elrohir quickly cut off his older brother, laughing. “No more mention of the unfortunate squirrel and its untimely demise!”
But by this time Estel’s interest had been piqued. “No! What happened!?” The boy looked Elrohir expectantly.
“Aye, ‘Roh, What happened?” Elladan echoed, looking his younger brother’s discomfiture with a mischievous glint in his eye.
Elrohir shot his older a murderous ‘I’ll get you for this’ look, which of course caused Elladan’s grin to grow even larger. “Not much, I tried to ride Adar’s horse.” Elrohir stopped and shrugged, hoping that would bring an end to the embarrassing episode.
But Elladan would not let allow the story to remain untold. “You are being far too modest in the telling of this tale!” The older dark-haired Elf looked back after Estel. “Allow me to flesh out some of the details that Elrohir seemingly wants left out.”
The younger Elf harrumphed and returned to pulling from the boss with a little more energy than was needed and nearly losing the point from one of his arrows.
Elladan continued, “Well, it was when ‘Roh was not much older than you. Adar had this big black stallion named Niphredil--”
Estel barked out a laugh, “He named a big, black stallion Snowdrop?”
Elladan smiled, answering, “Oh Aye! Adar can have a rather ironic sense now and then. As I was saying, he had this big black stallion that only Ceredir, our master horse trainer who sailed for the West centuries ago, could tame. Well, Roh had taken to riding most quickly--”
“Even quicker than you, mellmuindor nin! I might add.” Elrohir interjected.
Elladan shot him an amused look, “I grant you that, he did learn quicker than I.” Turning back to Estel, “But you know what they say, ‘Pride goeth before the fall,’ in this case literally!” he announced with glee. “Roh, here, fancied himself a great horseman and bragged one morning at break fast that he had watched Ceredir all afternoon and saw the masterful way the master horseman handled Niphredil and that he fancied that he could control the black stallion as well as, if not better than Ceredir. Naneth said something about she was sure when Roh became older that he could and maybe he would like to study the art of the horse master when he got older. Well, I remember looking at Adar who had been peaceably drinking his wine, setting his goblet down and looking hard at the excited look on my brother’s face. He quickly said, ‘Elrohir, look at me. You will not bother Ceredir and you will not try to ride Niphredil. Is that clear?’ Roh played innocent saying that he had not even thought of such a thing. Adar looked doubtful saying ‘Aye? I know you too well, ion nin!’ ”
“Well, needless to say, Roh did not listen and that day he told Ceredir that Adar needed to see him.” Elladan broke off his story to look at Elrohir, who was again doing his best to look innocent and convincing no one. Elladan just laughed and continued on with his story. “Within minutes Roh did gain Niphredil’s back, just quickly he gained the ground after Niphredil threw him. But did that deter our intrepid horseman? Nay, it did not. I think he was thrown three times before an even more frightening situation presented itself. Adar appearing at the paddock fence with a concerned Ceredir at his heels.”
Elrohir interrupted with a shudder, “I do not recall ever seeing Adar more angry than at that moment. It was not a pretty sight! I can still hear him shouting in that commanding voice, ELROHIR HALF-ELVEN, you will stand before me NOW! I stood there quaking in my little leather boots. After he examined me thoroughly to confirm whether I was hurt or not, (it might have gone easier for me had I been!)” Elrohir mused, “he said in a tight, low voice, ‘You will apologise to Ceredir to for your lie!’ I remember saying in a small voice, because that was all I could muster at the time, that I was sorry. Adar then sent me to our rooms! I could not sit about a week and I had clean out the horse stalls for a month. But I did manage to sit that horse for a few seconds.” Elrohir finished triumphantly. After a pointed nudge from Elladan he added “But of course, it was the wrong thing to do. I should not have disobeyed Adar like that.”
Elladan looked at the small gleam of interest in Estel’s grey eyes and thought it best to continue on with their archery practice, “Let us finish retrieving arrows and continue on with our practice and afterwards perhaps Cook will have some spice cakes ready for us to eat for a little treat.”
“Spice cakes!” Estel began to pull his arrows with energy and started to run back to the shooting line.
They spend another half hour shooting, and Elladan thought Estel suitably distracted from the tale of Elrohir’s mishap with the horse. Alas, small boys with an idea are not easily distracted, even when a spice cake is involved.
At break fast Gilraen should have known that something was going on in that precocious little mind. When she asked what Estel had planned for that afternoon after he finished his lessons with Glorfindel, he was rather noncommittal. All he said was, “Oh I don’t know. I’ll find something to do.” Gilraen looked at Elrond seated across from her at the breakfast table and saw the Sindarin Lord raise an eyebrow. As experience had taught them over the years, an idle Estel could only get into mischief. The child was too curious by half. The kitchens and the craft rooms had learned of the boy’s rapacious curiosity the hard way when he peered into to pots too tall for him and asking endless questions about this or that or having accidentally unraveled a day’s work. They learned it was best to have “projects” ready for him should he pay them a visit. It was not that they minded the boy’s company. He was a delightful child, but could still be an inquisitive handful when not occupied with something.
“Estel,” Elrond began, setting down his berry cakebread, “I’ll be busy in council in the early afternoon but if you want you can join me in the herbarium afterwards, say half past midday?”
“Could I?” Grey eyes lit with excitement at the thought of sharing time in the herbarium with his Ada. Herbs held all kinds mysteries and secrets to learn about and when Elrond extended the rare invitation with work with his herbs it was not to be missed.
Elrond with a conspiratorial look at Gilraen thought the matter closed and again picked up his berry cake. Gilraen returned the smile, but cast another look at her son. She would also like to think the matter closed, but she knew her son’s face far too well and looking at him now trying to look innocent made her suspicious. Unfortunately there was nothing to be done about it. She, too, was busy in the early afternoon, supervising the daily weaving in the solarium. She looked back at Elrond munching peacefully on his cake and perusing a parchment in front of him. Their relationship had developed during the almost eight years she had been living in Imladris into one of friendship built upon their mutual love of the little boy that ate his break fast between them.
Elrond had been extraordinarily kind to not just Estel, but to her. He had done his best to give her some sort of structure to her life in Rivendell so that she did not feel so completely an outsider in this beautiful haven of Elven peacefulness and cheer. As he had no wife of his own through tragic circumstances, as she was to come to understand, he allowed her to have her own responsibilities in the running of his household. He said it would be nice to have a woman’s touch about the place. The Last Homely House ran quite smoothly from what she could tell, but again she appreciated having duties and responsibilities once more. She sensed that he still remembered what it was like to lose the one whom you loved more than life itself and he had somehow managed to live through the pain of separation. Of course all of this remained unsaid, for Elrond did not confide in her with regard to such feelings. But theirs was a friendly relationship and the pain of needful separation from her people and her family were made less by these considerations. Primarily they spoke of Estel and what was best for him, along with matters dealing with the running of his house. Such thoughts brought her back to her son and the look of strained innocence upon his face.
Breaking into her thoughts were the words, “And is my young pupil yet ready to enter the realm of study?” Glorfindel announced his presence in this way as he bowed slightly to Elrond.
Estel crammed the last of his hot buttered berry cake into his mouth and said, “Aye, Ah um!”
Glorfindel laughed, “Chewing your food before engaging your mouth to speak might work just a bit better, young master! Let us try that again and then you can answer me in an intelligible fashion. Hmmm!” The Elf Lord peered down his nose at his young charge.
Estel swallowed some black currant juice from a silver goblet and then did as Glorfindel instructed. “Aye, I am ready. Let’s go! What are we talking about today?” Estel eagerly looked toward his Ada to be excused from the table.
Elrond nodded his permission, saying, “Ah, So eager, Estel. It is good to see.”
“Aye the sooner we start the sooner we finish!” Estel stated emphatically.
Glorfindel laughed, “And here I thought it was an unquenchable thirst for knowledge that had you so excited!”
Estel had the decency to looked slightly abashed and turned earnest grey eyes upon the Elven Lord, “Oh I did not mean that! It just that I have don’t have archery today and there’s lots I want to do.”
Glorfindel chuckled, “Well, let us get to it then, I would not want to keep you from your busy schedule.”
Estel hopped down from his chair to make his way out only to be stopped by Elrond, “Remember, ion nin, half past midday in the herbarium and,” he said more pointedly, “No getting into mischief,”
Estel quickly shook his head, “I’ll remember!”
“Off you go now and give your mother a kiss!” Gilraen said. Estel obliged and then trotted off after Glorfindel.
Gilraen peered at Elrond, “Just what do you think that was about.”
Elrond shook his head, “I do not know, but I am afraid we will find out soon enough,” and returned to his berry cake and parchment.
It was during the time that the stable hands took their afternoon meal so the stable was empty. Estel approached his Ada’s stables where his new strawberry roan stood. This animal had scared him from the first time the little boy saw the great beast. It was funny that it should because Gilgilath was almost as big as the roan, but there was something in Carannin’s eye that unnerved yet challenged the boy.
As soon as Estel entered the stable Gilgilath’s head picked up quickly, expectant that he would soon be lead out in the paddock and out on the many favoured trails that he and Estel loved to trace. So it was much to Gilgilath’s surprise that Estel merely patted his head and fed him a carrot out of the small feedbox near his stall before moving past him in a determined fashion.
Estel neared Carannin’s stall; as soon as the roan sighted the boy it started to snort and stomp slightly in its stall. Estel stood there, at first mesmerized by the size of the animal, but then shook himself slightly and emboldened by Elrohir’s story of horse-taming strode forth in what he hoped was a confident, commanding fashion.
First he tried to appease the large snorting animal by feeding it a carrot. Gilgilath loved them so he figured that perhaps Carannin would, too. He was right, at least partially; the horse readily took the carrot, but did not show any signs of calming down. Estel remained undeterred.
With some effort he lifted the saddle, that had been made for Gilgilath, to place it on the strawberry roan’s back, but he stopped to wonder whether it was a good idea to place a foreign saddle on Carannin’s back. He thought back to the last time the stable hands had the horse out in the paddock for training and replaced the saddle remembering that Carannin had been broken without a saddle. He paused to briefly think about the wisdom of this adventure, he had only been riding bareback for only a few months and only on Gilgilath, but he decided that he had come this far, there was no backing out at this point. He would prove that he was every bit as good a horseman as Elrohir was at his age. He was no longer a child; he was ten years old. Estel opened the stall door and under the disapproving eye of Gilgilath, he started to lead the horse out of his stall. The boy looked at back his horse and said, “Don’t you look at me like that! I will be fine!” Gilgilath snorted disbelievingly and continued to look on sternly. Estel pointedly ignored him and resumed leading Carannin out into the paddock murmuring what he hoped were comforting and reassuring noises.
He mounted the horse with the help of a fence and sat atop the huge strawberry roan and surveyed his world. This sense of achievement lasted exactly two seconds. This was how long it took Carannin to realize that an inexperienced horseman sat him. He reared up and the last thing Estel heard was the stableman’s voice call out, “Young Master Estel, dismount immediately!” That instruction was quickly followed, Carannin threw the boy and all went black.
When he opened his eyes and he immediately wanted to close them again as the world started to spin. Opening them again, he looked up into the worried face of his Ada. Elrond was kneeling at the child’s head and whispering, “Shhh-Shhh! How do you feel? Can you move at all?” Estel thought he heard a tenor of worry running through a voice striving to remain calm. The boy made to get up only to be restrained gently by his Ada’s hand. Estel nodded his head, tried to move his right arm, which was pinned at a strange angle and shrieked with pain. His Ada’s face went ashen white and but calmly said, “Where does it hurt?”
“My arm, it hurts, Ada! It hurts!” the little boy cried.
“I know it does, my love. Does anywhere else hurt?”
“My head. I’m all dizzy, Ada! Make it stop!”
“I will, my love. First things first though, hmm. Famvir!” he commanded.
The Elf that ran attendance on the Lord of Imladris knelt at his Lord’s side, “Yes, milord.”
“Run to my herbarium and bring me my medicine bag!”
“At once, milord.” The elf ran off to complete his task.
The Lord of Imladris turned his attention back towards his injured charge, “Now, my love, lie still,” he said as he took off his outer robe, wadding it up to make a pillow for his son’s head. “I must look you over to see if you are hurt anywhere else.”
The child whimpered as Elrond laid Estel’s injured arm a bit straighter so to examine the rest of him.
“Tell me if this hurts.” Elrond said, as he motioned the stable hand to help straighten the boy and keep him calm as the Lord of Rivendell examined the rest of the boy’s body. Seemingly nothing else had been broken.
During the examination a frantic Gilraen had made her way to the paddock after being paged about the boy’s fall.
“Estel!” she sobbed as she dropped on the side opposite the one being tended by Elrond. “What happened? How is he?”
“It seems that our headstrong son, my lady, tried to tame Carannin! And none too successfully at that.”
At this the stable hand stepped up and continued the story as far as he knew it. “You see milady, Intal and I broke for lunch. When I came back to the stables a bit early after my morning skin of wine I had forgotten, I saw little Estel on top of Carannin. I shouted that he get off immediately, but by then the horse had reared and bucked throwing him into the grass.” Gilraen’s complexion grew more and more ashen as she heard the story unfold.
Elrond looked up at this point his calm voice belying by the worry deep in his pale blue eyes. “It is only a broken wrist and a blow to the head. I think there will be no permanent damage.”
“I feel funny, Ada.” Estel said in a sleepy voice, “Like I want to fall asleep.”
Immediately Elrond sat the boy upright causing him to cry out, as his broken wrist was none too gently jarred. “My Lord, what are you doing? His wrist.” Gilraen said, stunned that Elrond could be so ungentle.
He paid her no mind as he stared into Estel’s sleepy grey eyes. “Estel, ion nin! Listen to me. I know you are feeling sleepy, but you must not give in to sleep. If you do you may never wake up. Do you understand me, ion nin! You must stay awake.”
Gilraen was quite panicked by now. “My Lord, what do you mean?” she asked in a quick worried voice.
“I mean, My Lady, that Estel received a knock on the head and if we are not careful the sleeping sickness will fall upon him. From this I may not be able to revive him.”
“Famvir!” He shouted as he spied the running elf just entering the paddock area, “Inside my bag there is a herb extract that will cause wakefulness. It is a dark syrup stoppered in red.”
Famvir quickly located and unstoppered the vial and passed it to Elrond who smelled it to assure himself that it was the proper vial then quickly upended it into Estel’s mouth holding the child’s nose closed to ensure that the medicine was indeed swallowed. The boy winced at the bitter taste, but his eyes looked a little more awake as the minutes passed.
Content that the boy would remain wakeful at least for the moment, Elrond gently placed the injured arm in a sling and he picked him up and carried him up the path to his suite of rooms, Gilraen following. Upon entering Estel’s bedchamber he sat the child on the bed held by the arms of his naneth. The two healers that he sent Famvir for had already arrived and were preparing a tea for the pain and special wrappings for the broken wrist. Elrond went to check on their process and brought the tea over for Estel to drink.
Sitting on his bed Estel looked pale but alert and was staring after Elrond. Big grey eyes watched as Elrond walked back over to the bed with the mug of tea in his hand. “Drink this, Estel. It will help with the pain.” Elrond put the mug into his good hand and Gilraen helped him drink it all down.
Elrond was preparing the splint and wraps when from behind him when he heard a small, “I’m sorry, Ada.” The band of worry and anger that had been tightening around his heart since he had heard that Estel had tried riding the horse slowly began to loosen at those contrite words. He turned around and saw the little boy encircled by his naneth’s arms looking at him with pain-dulled wide grey eyes.
“Thank you, Estel. But it is not to me you should be apologizing, but to yourself.” Seeing confusion cloud the child’s eyes he withheld the necessary lecture until a time more conducive to understanding. “But that discussion is for another time. Just answer me one question. Where in Iluvatar’s bright world did you get the idea to try and ride Carannin?”
“Yesterday during Archery practice ‘Roh was telling me about the story about how when he was an Elfing and tamed your Niphredil.”
Elrond’s eyes grew wide with shock and astonishment. Will my two sons EVER learn? He would be having a discussion with those two when they returned from their trip in a few days’ time. Outwardly he said as he gingerly swabbed Estel’s arm with a salve intended to reduce swelling and aid in the healing of broken bones, “And did Elrohir tell you what happened afterward.”
“He said he could not sit for a week.
Elrond hid a smile. Well he remembered the event. He had been so frightened when he saw Elrohir up on that horse. Much the same fear had flooded over him today. “I seem to recall it was longer than that. But that is also story for another day.” He looked at Gilraen, “I think I need to have a talk with my sons.” Gilraen, looking chagrined, nodded her assent.
“I’m sorry, ion nin that I cannot give you anything stronger for the pain but I cannot have you sleep until tomorrow night, so setting your wrist is going to be painful,” He handed the little boy a wooden spoon that had many other teeth marks are already on it. “Whenever you feel pain bite down this spoon. It will help you deal with it.”
After fifteen minutes of painful work Elrond had the bones set in a splint and clean ointment soaked bandages wrapped next to the skin. Estel was then cleaned up and placed in bed with a mug of healing tea placed within good arm’s length.
“I will stay and keep first watch and make sure that he takes his medicine,” Gilraen said to a tired Elrond.
“That will be good. I will tend to a few matters and then return to check in. Remember no sleeping.”
“I’m not likely to forget.” Gilraen said a bit wryly.
“No, of course not. Forgive me.”
He looked at Estel and saw in his eyes that the painkiller was started to take full effect. “You are not to give you Nana any trouble.”
“I promise, Ada,” came the earnest reply.
At that Elrond left naneth and son alone. Elrond gained his study before giving in to the swirling emotions within him. Anger, fear, panic and genuine worry crowded around him as he stood on his balcony overlooking the two waterfalls that fed into the Loudwater. Of course little Estel was the hope to restore the Dunedain and best hope to defeat the darkness that would try to engulf Middle Earth. But it was more than that, he had provided refuge for the Heirs of Isildur for generations, and seen each in their turn travel beyond the veil to receive the Gift of Iluvatar. He mourned them in his own way as the passing of a mortal friend. But Estel was special, he was not just the Heir of Isildur, the representative Dunedain hope, the difference was that Elrond loved him, he realized in a flash, as his son. He was not just his foster father but his Adar, the only Adar that Estel had ever really known. And the fact that he had come close to death this day both angered and scared him more than he would like to admit to anymore. Elladan and Elrohir would have quite a bit of explaining to do when they got back after the morrow.
Elladan sat on his horse and sipped from his wineskin as his horse slurped the fresh, clean waters of the Bruinen. He felt at peace now that they had slipped across the border of his homeland. As he looked around at the lush green hills that lead to the ravine in which Imladris was nestled, he could feel the trees singing their welcome into his heart and he was made whole once more. He and his brother loved this land more than life itself. He knew others who were called to the Sea to take ship for the Undying Lands, but he could never understand such longing. Given all that he and Elrohir traveled among the lands of Men in their quest to rid said lands of such filth as Orcs, he knew that he could never forsake Imladris for his heart and soul bound to this land. Sever it and he would die.
Elrohir broke into his thoughts, unsurprisingly putting voice to feelings that mirrored his twin brother’s, “It is good to be home once again, is it not, muindor nin.”
“Aye, it is.” Elladan smiled gently. “My only regret is the news that we bring from the White Council. The conflict begins, muindor nin. And I know not how it will end. Adar has long looked for this, but its beginning will sadden him greatly.”
“Aye, but we best get on,” Elrohir said as he mounted his horse, “Bad tidings only get worse with the delay of telling.”
Within an hour they were in sight of the Last Homely House. As they stabled their horses, Elmiran appeared bowing slightly with hand on heart, “Mae Govannen, milords, your Adar wishes to see you as soon as you have settled.”
“Mae Govannen, Elmiran. We have much to say.” Elladan returned the greeting, wondering the worried look on the face of Elrond’s chief attendant. Had they already heard? he wondered.
“As does Lord Elrond.” Elmiran bowed and took his leave without another word causing Elladan to first look quizzically at Elmiran’s departing form and then at Elrohir, who shook his head, saying only, “We shall find what Adar needs to say in due time.”
After quickly settling, they were at the entrance to Elrond’s study as the page announced their presence to Lord Elrond.
“Mae Govannen, ionnath nin. I trust your journey was eventful.” Elrond was seated at his desk and motioned that they should help themselves to the wine sitting on the near table. Elrohir noticed the strained tenor in his Adar’s voice and a flare of worry lit inside his heart as he poured wine into the crystal goblet sitting next to the decanter.
“Aye, Adar. We have grim tidings.” Elladan replied after taking a little of the fine vintage that Elrond kept in his study.
Elrond’s face darkened slightly at the words and he leaned forward, elbows on desk pyramiding his fingers at his mouth, “Continue.”
“It has been agreed that the White Council should form an attack on Dul Guldur itself, to drive the Necromancer from his fortress. It has begun, Adar.”
A look resigned sadness crossed Elrond’s face. “So it shall be. Which renders what I have to say next of tantamount importance.” Elrond tenor changed to one of suppressed anger. “Right now, little Estel lies in his bed asleep after a long wakeful night because he was thrown from Carannin after trying to ride him.”
Both twins visibly paled, “Is he all right?” “What happened to him?” “Can we see him?” they questioned after hearing the dire words spoken.
Elrond looked daggers at his miscreant sons. “He received a nasty blow to the head from which I feared the sleeping sickness would take him and he has broken his right wrist. You may see him later, he has finally been allowed to sleep and I would not have you disturbing him. First you must deal with me.” Elladan realize that it was not only sorrow that darkened his Adar’s eyes but anger as well. Anger leveled at he and his brother. He did not have wait long for its explanation.
“Do you know why he tried to ride Carannin?” Not waiting for an answer, “I asked him why he would try such a foolhardy thing. And do you know what he said?” Elrond’s anger was on a slow burn growing hotter by the second.
Elladan ventured, “No, m’lord. We do not.”
“Because you gave him the idea.” Elrond leveled.
Elrohir looked genuinely shocked, “What? How? We never suggested that he ride the beast.”
“Not in so many words, no. But you did tell him the story about your riding Niphredil? Did you not?” Elrohir paled and gulped. “And that is enough to put ideas in his child’s mind.” Elrond paused to see the effect his word had on his two sons. Gratified, he continued in a less angry tone, “He idolizes you two. You are his brothers and he looks up to you and wants to someday be your equal.”
Realisation flooded over Elrohir along with acceptance and responsibility and as he cast his eyes downward he said, “I’m sorry, Adar. I did not think. I did not realize.” Looking up into his Adar’s eyes, “I never meant to cause him harm.”
Elrond’s eyes softened at his younger son’s contrition, and he stated solemnly, “I know you did not, ion nin. But you must remember that he idolizes you two and it is your responsibility to set a good example so that he will learn. Now more than ever, considering that the Time is at hand. He must be ready. Besides.” Elrond’s tone lightened considerably, “He finds quite enough mischief by himself without you two giving him ideas.”
Elrohir’s eyes lightened as he smiled, “That he most certainly does.”
Elrond looked from one of his grown sons to the other. They returned the look. Elrond pushed his chair back and came around his desk to stand before them and place a hand on each son’s shoulder. “You may see him in the morning. He needs his rest. Now join me at the sofa. You must tell me all that was said at the White Council.”
There they sat for the next hours discussing all that would involve the coming of the storm.
The next morning Estel woke to more than one familiar face. His naneth was wiping his forehead, but sitting on the bed and a chair near were Elladan and Elrohir, both looking rather sheepish. “Dan! Roh!” Estel struggled to get into a sitting position.
“Shh-Shh! Tithen-nin! There is no need to get up.” Elladan hastily stated as he got up from the corner of the bed. “We’ve just come to see that you are all right.”
Estel chimed, “Oh, Ada says that I will be fine. I’m feeling much better now that you are here! Did they tell that I tried to ride Carannin!?” He looked excitedly at Elrohir who immediately looked abashed and somewhat scared, which confused Estel a great deal. He had never seen Elrohir look so unhappy.
“Yes, they did,” Elrohir said in a quiet and subdued voice. “Promise me you will never try to do anything like that again.” He finished sternly.
Estel looked confused and a little upset, “I thought you would like it! And be proud of me.”
The dark-haired Elf rose from his chair to stand closer to the bed and grasp Estel’s good hand, “Proud that you risked your safety needlessly. No, My little love. You should never risk your life needlessly. What I did as an Elfling was silly and foolish, but I did not injure myself so perhaps I did not fully appreciate the silliness of my actions. But when I heard that you had almost killed yourself because of something I did,” The Elf paused for a moment, “It is not something that I am proud of. Taking risks is part of life and it must be done, but to risk your life trying to impress someone is never a good idea. Promise me you will not.” Star-filled solemn blue eyes met and held the earnest young grey ones.
Estel nodded, “I promise.”
“Good.” A weight seemed to lift from the Elven shoulders and Elrohir bent over to kiss the boy on the forehead, “Now you rest up and get better and then we shall have many adventures in store for us I am sure,” he ended in a much more jovial fashion.
“Heed your brother’s words, ion nin. For they have the ring of truth to them.” Elrohir turned around and Estel looked up.
“Ada! Roh and I were just talking about grown up things.” Estel announced proudly.
“I could hear that, ion nin. Now you and I must discuss other grown-up things.”
“I’m going to be punished aren’t I?” Estel added with trepidation.
“That may well be true, but we have yet other matters to discuss also.” He turned to the others, “Can you leave us for a few moments?”
Elladan kissed his little brother’s forehead, “Be well, we will return.” He and his brother left quickly. Gilraen followed more slowly, straightening her son’s bed sheets and then motioning for the healers to depart as she closed the door behind her.
Elrond waited for the door to shut before turning back to the anxious-looking boy sitting in bed. Elrond pulled the chair that Elrohir had been sitting in closer to the bed and sat down. For a moment he look at Estel with those inscrutable pale blue eyes and sighed. “Estel, I first want to say that I love you and your mother loves you. Your brothers love you. Nothing can change that. But you will be punished because what you did was wrong. You caused your mother and I and many others much worry and that is wrong to do without good reason. But that is not what I want to discuss with you right now. Right now I want to talk to you about responsibility. Do you remember yesterday just after we brought you up here to tend to your injuries? Do you remember what you said to me?”
Estel thought hard and then he remembered, “I said I was sorry to you.” Wide earnest eyes stared into his Adar’s.
“That is right. And do you remember what I said to you?”
Estel screwed up his face and trying to remember back through the pain, “You said ‘Thank you,’ but that I should not be apologizing to you, I should really be apologizing to myself.”
“Very good. Do you know what I meant by saying that?”
Estel shook his head sheepishly.
Elrond reached out a hand to gently stroke his son’s dark brown plaited hair, “Let me explain then. Was it a smart thing to ride a horse that you knew you were not allowed to and without supervision?”
Estel again shook his head sheepishly.
“Then why did you do it?” Elrond continued.
Estel shrugged, “I don’t know.”
Elrond sighed, “While you did worry your naneth and me, what you really did is let yourself down by acting so foolishly.”
“I did think maybe it wasn’t the best idea.” Estel began in his own weak defence.
“But you went ahead and did it anyway. Did you not?” Elrond pressed.
Again Estel nodded.
“I realize that you are yet young, even by Men’s standards, but I do not think that can excuse you from realizing a few things. I want you to take to heart what your brother said about taking foolish risks with your life. There will be times in your life that you may have to take risks and do things that are dangerous and cause those you care about to worry. But what you have to learn is the difference between risking your life in a needful cause and risking your life foolishly. That is the difference between bravery and recklessness. There will be many times in your life where you will be working to protect others, say for example you needed to protect your naneth or me and what you had to do was considered dangerous. That would be acceptable, responsible, and even brave because you were doing it to protect another, to serve another. But if you choose to do something dangerous without a good enough reason to justify that risk, such as trying to ride a horse you should not ride just to impress someone, even someone you love then you are being foolish and letting yourself and those who love you down. Do you understand what I saying to do you, ion nin.”
Estel chewed his lower lip before replying, “Riding Carannin was foolish because I worried you and Nana and ‘Dan and ‘Roh and I only did it because I thought it would impress ‘Roh.”
Elrond nodded, “Now promise me that you will think about what your brother and I have said here today.”
Estel looked at his Adar and said solemnly, “I promise.”
It broke his heart to see Estel trying to act so grown-up, but he supposed it was a necessary thing. However it still saddened him. Elrond again reached out a hand to stroke his son’s hair, “The path you are destined to follow in life, ion nin, will take you into many dangers. I wish I could protect you from it all, but alas I cannot.” He gazed mournfully into his son’s young grey eyes and could only imagine what his son would have to endure in the years to come. Times that would change the boy into the man he would need to become. Elrond felt sad and old beyond his years pondering such hardships.
Estel looked at his beloved Adar and saw the sadness he was trying to hide. “Don’t worry, Ada. I will learn.”
Elrond smiled ruefully, “I know you will, my love, I know.” He bent over to kiss his son on the forehead. “Rest now.” Rest. He thought of the word as he straightened his son’s blankets further. In the coming storm there would be precious little of that commodity, but for now, Estel remained safe within his hands, to guide him as best he could. He only hoped it would be enough.
Note on the Sindarin usage: These are mostly my own shaky constructions. I have only a rudimentary understanding of lenition and any corrections or suggestion for shaping endearments would be very welcome.
mellmuindor nin: my dear brother
muindor nin: my brother
ion nin: my son
Carannin: (rough trans.) my red one (Literally: red my)
Tithen nin: My little one (Literally: little my)
Author’s notes: Happily (at least for the author J) Estel’s tenth year happens to coincide with the convening of the White Council. I noticed this during the writing of the story and needed to send somebody to the Council. Granted Elrond would have been the logical choice but for story purposes he needed to stay home and the whole White Council meeting allowed me to tie Estel’s life in Rivendell with the larger story outside of Imladris, and it gave me a shape and end to my chapter. Yeah.
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