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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…………...
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