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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…….
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