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Vorondur was the first to react, pushing his way past the other ellyn even as he was giving orders. “Mir, take Finrod in hand while I deal with Loren.” And as he reached the bottom of the steps he took Glorfindel by the shoulders and forced him out of Finrod’s hold. By now Glorfindel’s laughter had turned to tears again and he did not fight Vorondur, but allowed the ellon to hold him. Vardamir, meanwhile, had come down and was holding Finrod while the prince pulled himself together. Laurendil stood by, rubbing Finrod’s back. Elrond gravitated to Vorondur and Glorfindel, rubbing the latter’s back in an attempt to calm him.
The library door opened and Daeron stepped out and came up the hall. “Everything all right?” he asked, giving them a concerned look.
Vorondur shook his head and looked at Elrond. “Do you want to explain it to everyone? I’m going to try to get Loren to rest. Darren, will you send Amarië out? I think Finrod would appreciate her company.”
“No, that’s all right,” Finrod said, having ceased his laughter. “I will come with you, Ron. Daeron, please tell my wife that I will join her in a while. Come, gwador, let’s get you to your room. You should rest for a time. You’re emotionally exhausted.”
It was a testament to Glorfindel’s state that he did not argue but allowed himself to be led back up the stairs and to his room where he undressed and crawled into bed, sighing as he pulled the covers around him, closing his eyes. Finrod placed a hand on Glorfindel’s forehead, covering his eyes. The prince whispered something soft and Vorondur could feel the power flowing from him. A moment later, he stood back, giving Vorondur a sigh.
“I’ve put him into healing sleep. He’ll waken on his own in the morning.”
“How are you doing?”
Finrod gave him a sour look. “How am I supposed to be doing, Ron? You say Glorfindel is fading, yet, I do not see it.”
“No one does, including Loren,” Vorondur allowed, “but Mir and Elrond have confirmed what I was told was true.”
Finrod raised an eyebrow. “Who told you?”
“Nate, along with Lords Manwë and Irmo. They came to me when I was at the café the other night.”
“Ah… and they would know if anyone did.” Finrod frowned. “We will need to watch him very carefully.”
“You mean more carefully than usual.”
Finrod nodded somewhat distractedly as he gazed down at the sleeping Glorfindel. “Were you offered a cure?”
Vorondur snorted and at the sound, Finrod looked up in surprise. “According to Lord Manwë, the Valar have no idea how to counteract the effects of fading. They can mitigate them to some extent. Apparently residing in Valinor helps, but otherwise, I think we’re on our own. I can tell you this, though.”
“According to the Valar, the Enemy is responsible for Loren’s fading. The Enemy doesn’t want Loren dead, only damned.”
Finrod’s lips thinned. “Yes, I can see that. Well, now that we know what we are dealing with, we will do our level best to ruin the Enemy’s plans.”
“Do you think you should still go to Fairbanks?” Vorondur asked. “I am not sure I want Loren out of sight.”
“The children have been promised this trip and I will not disappoint them, especially Nielluin. I think Glorfindel needs to go as well. I think he needs to get away from here for a time. But I understand your concerns. What if someone came with us?”
“Yet, who? All the healers will be gone to Anchorage. In fact, they’ll be leaving tomorrow. I can’t get away without disrupting my patients’ schedules and a couple are at a delicate stage of their treatment.”
“Perhaps Barahir, Gilvegil or Cennanion might be able to join us,” Finrod offered.
Vorondur shrugged. “We can certainly ask. Shall we go downstairs and see how people are taking the news?”
“Yes. I do not want to leave Glorfindel alone for any length of time, though.”
“I’m sure people will be willing to take turns watching over him.”
Finrod nodded and bent down to kiss Glorfindel on the forehead. Glorfindel never stirred. Vorondur opened the door and Finrod exited with Vorondur right behind, not bothering to turn off the bedroom light. They went back downstairs and made their way to the library where they found everyone who had been present for dinner gathered, looking grim and sorrowful.
“How is he, Ron?” Barahir asked.
“In healing sleep at the moment,” Vorondur answered. “Finrod would like to have people take turns watching over him.”
“I’ll go,” Barahir offered. “Anything I should know?”
Both Vorondur and Finrod shook their heads. “He will waken on his own in the morning,” Finrod said, “or that is what he should do, but you know Glorfindel. He has a way of surprising us. Even in Mandos, he refused to do the expected.”
Several people chuckled at that and Barahir started to leave. “I will spell you in an hour,” Gilvegil told him and the ellon nodded.
“So, what are we to do?” Lindorillë asked. “How do we help?”
“There is no known cure for this,” Vorondur answered, “at least, there’s no medicine or medical technique that will solve the problem. We need, or rather, I need to find the underlying cause of Loren’s malady. Fading is merely the outer symptom of an underlying cause. In the meantime, we need to devise as many different ways as we can to… to brighten his fëa, to help him regain estel. I will continue counseling him, but others can help as well.”
“Even if all you do is take up some of Glorfindel’s duties for yourself and relieve him of some of his burdens, that should help,” Finrod added.
“Are we letting our mortal friends know what is happening?” Cennanion asked. “They might want to help as well.”
Vardamir shook his head. “I think we should keep this to ourselves for now,” he said. “With the Mortals divided in thought about us, we don’t want to give any of the naysayers fuel for their fire. If they learn of Glorfindel’s condition…”
“And yet, our friends, when they find out, and they will, may feel betrayed by our lack of respect toward them by not letting them know upfront what is going on,” Daeron suggested.
“Still, what could they do to help?” Manwen asked.
“They may do nothing more than offer Loren tea and sympathy,” Vorondur answered, “but I agree with Daeron that it’s not fair to leave our friends out of this. Zach, at least, will need to be told because of his working relationship with Loren. And there are those who join us in council. They may not understand about fading but they see Loren on a regular basis and they will know that something isn’t right with him. I would not countenance lying to them.”
“Nor would I,” Finrod said. “Still, I do not fancy shouting the news on every street corner.”
“That won’t be necessary,” Vorondur said with a smile. “For now, let’s just concentrate on Loren. When an opportunity arises with our mortal friends to address the subject, then we will do so.”
Everyone nodded in agreement and people began discussing among themselves ideas on how to lift Glorfindel’s spirits and help him. Vardamir motioned for Vorondur, Daeron, Finrod and Elrond to join him as he left the library and headed for the kitchen. Only when they were alone did he speak.
“I am not sure if we healers should leave at this time.”
“You’ve been planning this trip and working too hard to not go,” Vorondur said. “Elrond will still be here and you saw how he was able to control Loren. Even I don’t have that kind of power.”
Elrond smiled grimly. “Power has nothing to do with it, my friend. I was Glorfindel’s lord and he knew better than to disobey any command I uttered. Old habits such as that are hard to drop.”
“Perhaps,” Vorondur allowed, “but what I am saying is that we don’t need every healer on hand at the moment. Getting yourselves board certified is important, more than you probably think. Elrond and I can deal with the situation during your absence. Finrod and I were discussing earlier whether or not the planned trip to Fairbanks should still be allowed given what we now know.”
“And I said that I would not disappoint the children and if others wish to join us, I am fine with that.”
“Who would you like to see accompany you?” Vardamir asked.
“It does not matter,” Finrod said somewhat dismissively, “so long as it is someone whom Glorfindel trusts implicitly.”
“That would be any of us, wouldn’t it?” Vardamir asked.
“Not necessarily,” Daeron countered.
Vardamir gave him a surprised look, but both Vorondur and Elrond nodded. “But, surely he trusts all of us,” Vardamir insisted. “We’re Elves, after all, not Mortals.”
“And we Elves have a history of betrayal no less than the Mortals,” Vorondur replied with a grim look. “No, I agree with Daeron. Loren respects us all, but he trusts only a few. Finrod is one. Daeron is another. The Twins certainly and I suspect Elrond as well. But the rest of us? No, he’s more careful than that.”
Vardamir continued looking disturbed. “Could this be symptomatic of his fading, this wariness and lack of trust towards his own people?”
“Oh no, my friend,” Elrond said with a grimly amused look. “Glorfindel has always been that way for as long as I have known him. Do not mistake me! The Lord of the House of the Golden Flower takes his oaths seriously and he would gladly die for any one of us without counting the cost. No, that is not his nature, but trust, true, implicit trust, the trust one gives to another only after you have both suffered together and have proven yourselves to one another, is something else entirely. It is a trust born from fire and has nothing to do with love or the giving of oaths.”
Silence hung about them as Vardamir contemplated Elrond’s words. Finally, he looked at Finrod. “So, who should we ask to accompany you to Fairbanks?”
“The one problem I see is that most everyone will be unavailable. The healers will be gone and so will those who plan to join the Rangers. They leave on Tuesday for a time, do they not?”
Vardamir nodded. “Yes. They plan to be gone for a couple of weeks on their… fieldtrip, I believe the word is.”
“So who does that leave us?” Vorondur asked. “Who does Loren trust implicitly enough to let them accompany you to Fairbanks knowing why that person is there?”
“The list is alarmingly short, I’m afraid,” Daeron replied. “I would go, but I think it wiser if I remain here.”
“I will come.”
They turned to see Prince Legolas standing at the doorway, his expression distant, almost regal.
“Do you not have your own duties at the police station?” Vorondur asked, giving him a fond smile, remembering the wide-eyed elfling visiting Imladris for the first time in the company of his adar and naneth. Legolas had been about thirty, if he recalled correctly, and the Twins had instantly adopted him.
“More to the point, how much does Glorfindel trust you?” Vardamir interjected.
Legolas raised an imperious eyebrow at both questions and Vorondur hid a smile at the sight, suddenly reminded of Thranduil at his worst, or best; it was always hard to tell with that one. Legolas decided to answer Vorondur’s question first. “I am sure that once we explain the situation to Dave Michaelson he will be more than willing to let me go.”
“And once David knows the truth it will not be long before the entire town does,” Daeron offered.
“But not from Michaelson,” Vorondur said. “Dave knows how to keep his mouth shut. He is, after all, in a position of trust. Well, we can only ask.”
“Yet, does Glorfindel trust you?” Vardamir insisted. “Would he allow you to accompany him, knowing what your purpose is?”
“Elladan and Elrohir trust me,” Legolas answered.
“And if they trust you, then Glorfindel trusts you,” Daeron said with a nod.
Vardamir still looked skeptical, but Elrond nodded. “Legolas has always had Glorfindel’s trust and love.”
“Then, it’s settled,” Vorondur said. “Liam, you leave for the station soon do you not?”
“Yes. I am scheduled for the graveyard shift. I will speak with Captain Michaelson when he comes in the morning after I end my shift.”
“It might be wise for me to be there to answer any questions of a medical nature that Dave might have,” Vorondur suggested. “I’ll plan to be there around seven. I can give you a lift home afterwards.”
“That would be acceptable,” Legolas said. “I must go now.” He gave them a nod of his head in farewell and left.
“Well, now that that is settled, I must go and pack,” Vardamir said. “We’ll be leaving before dawn.”
“The very best of luck with the exams for all of you,” Vorondur said sincerely. “I know you will all do fine. You’ve had excellent teachers.”
“Yes, I am beginning to see that,” Vardamir replied with a slight, sardonic smile. He gave them a short bow and made his way up the back stairs, leaving Vorondur alone with Finrod and Elrond.
“I should be getting home myself,” Vorondur said. “I still have two ellyn to deal with.”
Elrond and Finrod grinned. “Just when you thought you were safe from elfling raising,” Finrod commented and Vorondur gave them a rueful look.
“Which just goes to show that you should be careful what you wish for,” he quipped. “After Liam and I have spoken to Dave, we’ll let you know what he decides.”
“I would appreciate that, thank you,” Finrod said. “I won’t be going into work until the afternoon, so you will find me here.”
“Good enough,” Vorondur said. “Good night,” he bade them and headed for the front door. Finrod decided he would check up on Glorfindel and Elrond joined him, the two making their way up the back stairs.
Legolas returned to the police station after his shift, writing up all that had happened while on patrol with Officer Huggins. Once done with that, he went to the locker room and changed back into civvies, chatting amiably with his fellow officers. It had been a week or so after he first joined the police force before Michaelson thought to have him assigned a locker. Over the last several months since beginning his training, he’d become more relaxed as the Mortals began to warm to him. He knew he had ‘arrived’ as Glorfindel had put it when he told him, when one of the men shared an off-color joke with him. He recalled how even someone like King Bard of Dale with whom he was close friends would never have presumed to speak before the elven prince in such a manner even if he knew any off-color jokes, which Legolas seriously doubted. Even Aragorn never showed that level of familiarity.
Glorfindel had merely smiled when Legolas shared the incident with him. “Well, my boy, it looks like you’re in like Flynn with the boys and girls in blue.”
“The uniform is brown,” Legolas couldn’t help pointing out.
“Just an expression,” Glorfindel said dismissively. “Congratulations, Liam. I mean it. That the Mortals see you as one of them enough to trade naughty jokes with you is a good sign that you’re fitting right in. I doubt Thranduil would approve.” He smiled knowingly.
“Good,” Legolas said smugly and Glorfindel joined him in laughter.
Legolas shook his head in amusement at the memory as he left the locker room and made his way to Michaelson’s office. He had already told the desk sergeant that he needed to speak with the Captain on a private matter and that Dr. Ron Brightman (remembering to use the ellon’s professional name and title) would be at the meeting as well. The sergeant had given him a surprised look but had made no other comment except to assure the prince that he would inform Captain Michaelson when he came in.
Legolas checked the time and saw that it was now seven-fifteen. Michaelson should have arrived by seven. Reaching the main squad room where the detectives sat before computers checking files on their ongoing cases, Legolas saw Vorondur standing at the front desk and made his way to him.
“Good morning,” Vorondur said. “Have a good patrol?”
“It was very quiet,” Legolas answered.
Vorondur nodded, knowing what the ellon meant. Before he could comment further, Michaelson’s door opened and the captain stepped out. “I understand you wished to see me,” he said by way of greeting. “Well, come in then.” He stepped out of the doorway to allow the two Elves to enter. “Sergeant, see that we’re not disturbed,” Michaelson ordered before he closed the door and went to sit behind his desk, motioning for the ellyn to be seated. “So, what is this all about?”
“Let me give you a bit of background first,” Vorondur said and at Michaelson’s nod, he continued. “There is a condition among Elves that we call fading…”
The explanation did not take long and when Vorondur was finished, Michaelson sat in silence digesting the psychiatrist’s words. Finally he said, “So this fading is like, what, cancer or something?”
“In a way, though the analogy falls far short of the reality,” Vorondur allowed. “Consider it a malady of the soul or spirit rather than something physical, although the effects are clearly physical as well as spiritual.”
“And Loren’s caught this… this disease,” Michaelson responded, obviously trying to make sense of what he’d been told.
“It’s really not a disease, Dave,” Vorondur assured him. “It’s not catching and the condition is reversible when caught in time as is the case here. The person does not go into remission with the threat of it returning like it is with cancer.”
“Is he a danger to others in this state?”
“No. He isn’t going to start foaming at the mouth or anything like that. From what others have told me, the actual fading is a quiet affair. One day the person is there, the next he or she isn’t. Our task at the moment is to keep that from happening. Loren and Finrod have been planning a trip to Fairbanks for the youngsters for quite some time. There was concern about allowing Loren to leave, but Finrod can’t do this alone. Liam, here, has offered to go with them, ostensibly to keep an eye on Glorfindel and to help Finrod if necessary.”
“How long?” Michaelson asked.
“I believe they planned to leave on the Friday after Memorial Day and return sometime on the following weekend,” Vorondur answered.
Michaelson glanced at Legolas. “And you’re the only one who can go?”
“Anyone else whom Glorfindel will accept as a traveling companion will be away, either in Anchorage for the medical boards testing or in the national park with the rangers,” Legolas replied.
“And it’s not a matter of availability,” Vorondur added, “it’s also a matter of trust. Loren will know that whoever goes with them is going for his sake, so he needs to trust that person. Liam is one of the few whom he trusts implicitly.”
Michaelson raised an eyebrow. “What if Loren rejects your offer?”
“He will have no choice in the matter,” Vorondur said in a solemn tone. “Neither I nor Elrond will permit him to go without Liam accompanying them. That will be non-negotiable.”
The Mortal quirked his lips in a sardonic manner. “Good luck with that one,” he said, then nodded, leaning forward, his hands clasped before him. “Normally, I would reject your request on the grounds that you haven’t been here long enough to warrant you taking off for a week, but under the circumstances I think it might be a wise move on your part.”
“Oh? Why is that?” Vorondur asked.
Michaelson licked his lips. “This goes no further than this room.” He gave them an enquiring look and they both nodded in acquiescence to his demand. “The truth is, we have reason to believe that there may be retaliation from certain circles for the arrests that we made with respect to Loren’s mugging, not to mention what went down during the election. Our informants tell us that something big is going down and soon and Loren seems to be the main target. In a way, I’m glad so many of you are going to be away for a time. I would like to see all of you go away for a time so we can deal with this situation.”
“Do you know any real details or is this just… supposition and innuendos?” Legolas asked.
“We have no real details as to time, manner or place,” Michaelson admitted, “but all our sources lead us to believe that the threat is real. You actually saved me a trip to Edhellond, because I was planning to speak to Loren and Darren about this.”
“You will be at the picnic this weekend, will you not?” Vorondur asked.
“Oh yes. Wouldn’t miss one of the Elves’ shindigs for all the world. Janna and the kids are looking forward to it and unless some unforeseen emergency shows up at the last minute, I plan to be there as well.”
“Then, let’s discuss it with Loren. Your news may be what convinces him to let Liam come with them to Fairbanks. Having another warrior with them would only make sense.”
“Fine,” Michaelson said. “We’ll do that. In the meantime, Prince, I’ll put you down for time off. That means that when you get back, I will have you tested to make sure that you haven’t forgotten all that you’ve been taught.”
Legolas gave the Man a slight smile. “I doubt if a week away from here will ruin my memory that much, Captain.”
“Maybe not, but I was planning on giving you a midterm anyway.”
Legolas frowned. “Midterm? I am not sure I understand.”
Vorondur smiled as he stood. “Come. We’ve taken up enough of Dave’s time. I’ll explain the term on the way.” He turned to Michaelson and thrust out his hand. “Thank you. We’ll see you at the picnic, then.”
“Until then. Oh, and Prince, forget your self-defense class today. In fact, I’m cancelling the classes altogether.”
“Oh? Why? I was rather enjoying them,” Legolas said.
“You’ve been enjoying them too well, my friend,” Michaelson said with a shake of his head. “That’s the second instructor who’s ended up in the hospital after sparring with you. I’m running out of instructors and I’ve been assured that what you don’t know about the subject isn’t worth teaching. In fact, Mr. Ishimori, who is recovering nicely by the way, says that he would award you the highest belt level they have in his style of fighting if he didn’t think it would be inappropriate under the circumstances.”
“I am sorry Mr. Ishimori was injured. It was not my intent. I think he should have zigged when I zagged.” Legolas shrugged. “At least, that is what Lieutenant Conrad told me afterwards.”
“Yes, well, whatever. The truth is, Prince, you’re becoming dangerous, but in a good way, I assure you.”
Legolas gave the Man a grim smile. “I have always been dangerous, David Michaelson. I have merely been careful not to show it around you Secondborn. You are too fragile to endure the wrath of the Eldar.”
“Oh?” Michaelson said with a skeptical look.
Vorondur nodded soberly. “Yes, my friend. Liam speaks truly. The power of the Firstborn, especially those like Loren or Finrod who resided in Aman in the time of the Trees, is greater than you have seen or can easily comprehend and our wrath is a terrible thing to witness. Pray very hard that you and your children will never see it, for I tell you truly, Wiseman will not survive if it ever comes to it.”
Michaelson looked troubled and Vorondur took pity on him. “But in truth, we Elves are trying very hard to keep such a thing from happening. Now we should get out of your hair and let you get back to work.”
“I’ll see you out,” Michaelson said. As soon as the Elves were gone, Michaelson turned to the desk sergeant. “Sergeant, contact Kenneth Talbot. Tell him I need to see him as soon as possible.”
“Yes, Captain. Right away,” the sergeant said, picking up the phone and punching in numbers.
Michaelson looked around. “Conrad, with me.” And he strode back to his office with Conrad at his heels, the lieutenant firmly closing the door behind him, while the others in the squad room privately wondered what the Elves had said to have upset the captain so much.
From the sealed files of Dr. Ron Brightman:
Name: Liam Prince (Prince Legolas Thranduilion)
Personality Profile: ENFP: Fury
Charm: Cobra-like hypnotism
Adaptability: Cockroach, but more so
Planning ability: Needs serious development
Survival preparations: Better than average
Weapons skill: Yo-yos don’t count
Intelligence: Wise, but crazy
Warm fuzzies: Melting, but not immediately evident
Leadership skills: High
Analysis: Liam Prince is an optimist, curious about the world around him, willing to extend himself beyond expected societal parameters in order to experience life to the fullest. That is why, in an earlier age, he was able to befriend Dwarves and Hobbits and Men to a degree not normally found among his fellow Elves. It is why he was able to leave the security of his father’s realm to strike out on his own and create his own enclave in Ithilien. It is why he turned away from the idea of becoming a Ranger as many of the others were planning to do to pursue a different goal: becoming a police officer. The choice of career is not surprising, given his military background and his desire to protect his loved ones, be it from monstrous spiders or common garden-variety criminals. There is, however, a darker side to him: Liam can allow fury at his enemies to rule him, making him heedless of his own safety when passionate rage takes over, as when he went after the carjackers. Yet, he is savvy enough to recognize this weakness in him and guard against it.
For the most part…
My primary concern with him going with Quinn and Loren to Fairbanks is that Liam will find himself in a situation involving Loren that he may not be able to handle simply because it lies outside his experience. He is, after all, not a healer or a psychiatrist. I pray to the Valar that all goes well on their trip and everyone returns home in one piece…
Note: At thirty, Legolas would have been the equivalent of a 13-year-old human child.
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