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On the knife’s edge  by Laikwalâssê

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.

“Daro.”

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……….

 





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