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Chapter 8: get off the mountain and changing plans
Elrond held up his hand and the three elves riding in single file behind him stopped their mounts by soft commands. At some distance, the guards were covering their rear making sure nothing would sneak up on them from behind.
Tinár riding right behind his senior healer craned his neck to see the reason for the sudden halt.
Instantly he stiffened.
In front of Master Elrond just around a bend was a crouching mountain lion swishing his tail and barring his teeth.
Elrond put forth much effort to still his skittish mount. The lion was ready to pounce. Celeborn had come alongside of Tinár, taking a deep breath when he espied the irritated wild beast.
Just what they needed. A further delay.
The mountain trail was much too narrow to forego the animal. Celeborn tried to look past the lion. Normally mountain lions were very shy and avoided any contact. Why was this one so upset?
`Maybe it´s a mother protecting her pups?´ Tinár said softly not to irritate the beast further.
`Or defending some prey.` Elrond mused while carefully dismounting.
“Elrond, be careful……..” Celeborn had no chance to finish his sentence.
Just when the Half-elf´s feet had touched the ground, the lion pounced knocking the dark-haired elf to the ground. Elrond´s mount reared up and crashed one hoof of a hind-leg into the lion´s back.
Howling with pain the beast let go of the healer and while tunnelling Tinár´s and Celeborn´s horse gained his refuge in running.
Haldir were just able to manoeuvre his horse out of the way when the lion flew past him taking flight.
“Let me see,” Celeborn said while kneeling beside his son-in-law.
Elrond was just sitting up and grimaced while holding his upper arm.
“It´s nothing,” the healer ground out between gritted teeth. He tried to rise.
“Keep sitting, Earendilion and let me see.” Elrond looked up irritated at the stern tone.
“How will you proceed with this arm?” Celeborn said already cutting away the sleeve of the tunic. A long deep scratch was running from the upper arm to the elbow.
“We have to hurry, we are already there…..”
“Yes and if you stop complaining and let me bandage this than we will be on our way shortly.”
Celeborn nodded his thanks when Tinár was handing him a thick roll of bandage.
“I fear this needs stitching,” the younger healer said after inspecting the wound.
Celeborn looked up and nodded. Haldir was busy placating the still skittish mounts. He manoeuvred them out of the way.
“Yes, but for now I will tightly wrap it until I have more space to work.”
“I´m a healer too, you know,” Elrond growled. “And I say this is enough.”
Celeborn finished his wrapping with a tight knot.
“I have treated more wounds on the battlefields of this world than you will ever see, my son. We will address this when I deem it necessary.”
Celeborn stretched out his hand after rising himself and carefully hoisted the Half-elf to his feet. Tinár narrowed his eyes when the healer rested his forehead for a minute at the flank of his horse.
“Elrond, are you alright,” he asked with concern.
“We are near but I can barely reach Elladan and he is not responding. Something is very wrong. Can we be on our way now?” The eyes of the Half-elf were blazing and Tinár nodded.
The Master healer mounted but Tinár wowed by all the urgency he would have a close eye on his Lord.
Instantly the four elves resumed their way.
Not half an hour later Elrond again stopped the procession by holding up his hand. Tinár closed up to look past the healer and gasped.
Just in front of them lay the dead body of a great white horse. Instantly Tinár knew that this could only be Asfaloth.
“By the Valar…..” the young healer muttered.
Now he remembered that Elrohir had told them that Asfaloth was dead but no one had really listened in the urgency to help the child. Now the words had become sadly true just before their eyes.
Elrond was dismounting and slowly nearing the dead horse.
“Now we know what the lion was defending,” Celeborn said and Tinár swallowed. He clearly saw the bite wounds on the horse´s flank. However, the lion must not have had much time. They had disturbed him early.
Haldir had come up to them.
“An avalanche must have come down on them and……” the March warden pointed upwards but stopped when Elrond knelt down and looked over the rim.
“Elladan, Glorfindel?, he cried loudly.
When an avalanche had killed the horse and swept the younger twin and Glorfindel down the cliff….his eyes widened at the implications.
“Elladan, it´s Ada, I´m here, answer me child. Glorfindel…?” Elrond called again but just like before only silence was the answer.
“Hold me,” Celeborn said and Haldir had just a second to grab his Lord´s waist belt before the silver-haired elf bend forward to have a better look.
“I can see a ledge half way down and if I´m not very much mistaken I can make out two…..bodies.”
When he got no response, he looked sideways at the healer. He placed a comforting hand on his son´s-in-law´s arm.
“Your bond with Elladan is intakt and Glorfindel would not dare to sneak from this world. We will get them up. I promise you.”
Elrond nodded and both elves crouched back on their heels.
“I will go down with Tinár……, Elrond begun.
“……and I will come with you,” Celeborn interrupted the healer´s words.”
Elrond looked at the father of his wife intently, absently rubbing his upper arm.
“No Celeborn. In all likelihood, Elladan and Glorfindel are injured. I will need Tinár´s assistance and then two strong pair of hands to hoist us up. I need you up here to come up with some sort of a litter we can use to pull at least Glorfindel up. Elladan I will carry on my back.”
Celeborn nodded, his mind already working on a plan to get the two injured back up into safety.
“What about your arm?” Tinár asked.
He already prepared himself for an angry retort but Elrond only took a deep breath.
“It has already stopped bleeding and I will not put too much strain on it.”
With that, the healer turned and already grabbed the rope Haldir had secured on a boulder.
“Oh yes, while going down a mountain and pulling up you will not put strain on that arm, sure…” Tinár muttered.
“Have you said anything, Tinár?” Celeborn asked.
The younger healer only scowled. Like Elrond, he had shouldered a big bag with all utensils they deemed necessary. He grabbed the second rope.
“Let us go down there and then I will stitch this wound and when Lord Námo personally is sitting there!”
Despite the graveness of the situation, Celeborn had to smile.
“What is the meaning of this commotion in the crack of dawn?” Erestor asked a servant hasting by.
The servant stopped only briefly shrugging his shoulders and was quickly out the front door.
Erestor narrowed his eyes.
The administrator of the Last Homely House was an early riser but this activity was unusual. He had now seen the third kitchen servant hastening down the hall and hurriedly leaving into the courtyard.
Had he missed something?
He followed the staff member out the door and stopped in his steps as soon as he had left the house.
Lady Celebrían was standing next to her horse checking some bags already tethered to the back of the mare. Four guards and two further pack-horses were waiting dutifully.
Erestor raised an eyebrow.
He had not been aware that the first lady had planned to leave the valley. And surely, he had not been informed.
He cleared his throat die gain the she-elf´s attention.
“All is prepared, Erestor. I´m ready to leave.”
The wife of Lord Elrond had whirled around before Erestor had been able to say a word.
“This I can see, my Lady. And you wanted to tell me about this when?” he asked in a careful neutral tone.
Her eyes were blazing.
“I do not need your permission and you will surely not stop me,” she answered her tone irritated.
Erestor made a step forward his eyes never missing eye contact with his Lady.
“Of course you need no permission, my Lady, but my last impression was that your husband wished for you to stay home and keep contact. We should be prepared when he returns.”
She took also a step toward the councillor. She spoke softly only for him to hear.
“My dear husband has shut me out, so much for keeping contact. But I have my own bonds with my children and know that Elrohir needs me now.”
Some dispute further than the one at the departure of the healer must have taken place. He did not have to be a mind reader to imagine what had happened. Yet, too much pieces of the puzzle were missing for him to piece the picture together.
Why did she only speak Elrohir, what about Elladan? Her words made only partially sense. He knew he had to act quickly.
“My Lady, I understand your motives but please will you rethink your plans? Four guards are much too less to guarantee for your safety.”
Again, the First Lady whirled around.
“My children need me now, Erestor. I will go alone if necessary.”
Erestor took a deep breath.
“No you will not. I´m responsible for your safety, Celebrían and I will be dammed to let you leave with such poor preparations.”
Anger was rolling in waves from the she-elf. Erestor could see her bristling. He readied himsef for a fight.
“How dare you…..,, Celebrían begun but stopped suddenly. She closed her eyes and listened. After long minutes she opened them again Erestor was surprised to see tears glistering. He was sure that some sort of communication has taken place.
“Erestor, I´m sorry. I know you mean well but I have to go to my children. They need their father to heal their injuries, yes, but they also need their mother. Some hurts can be healed only with a kiss.”
Erestor blew out his breath. Now she had done it – broken through his resistance.
“My Lady give me three hours and I will prepare all necessary for you to travel to your children´s aid and arrive there alive.”
The reprimand did not go unnoticed by the daughter of Galadriel, nonetheless she nodded her consent.
“Thank you Erestor, but please make hast.”
“I will my Lady. Latest at noon we will be on our way.”
“We?” she asked with a raised eyebrow.
“Yes we. I make sure that you will arrive alive and I will avoid your husband´s wrath that would descend upon me would I let go you alone.”
With that, the councillor turned and heeded back into the house to make his preparations.
The uncounted time Galadriel wiped her grand-son´s forehead. The boy was glowing with fever. All remedies she could think off she had tried but Elrohir did not respond. At the contrary, his wounds seemed more inflamed, his fever had risen and even the burn marks on his leg seemed more angry.
Absentmindedly caressing Elrohir´s black hair, the Lady of Light directed her gaze into the distance. She assumed that the boy´s condition did not only come from his bodily hurts. She knew that the twins were very close and when separated they were linked through their bond on an emotional level only few could comprehend.
Likely Elladan was hurt too and Elrohir would feel it as keenly as his brother – not really conductive to his own health, but this was their nature.
Additionally Elrohir was missing his parents. Even if Galadriel did have powers to reach and heal a wounded soul, a parent´s touch even she could not replace. Her son-in law had this magnificent gift to send healing power with a simple caress. Her grandsons had often told her that only a caress from Ada had made them better.
And, of course the twins did miss their mother. As excited they had been to be on this trip, they were still very small elflings, which did now show very obvious. A mother´s touch Galadriel could also not provide. She could only act in their stead.
It was paramount that at least one parent should be here with their wounded son and so Galadriel had consented with her daughter to make the journey. Elrond would not be happy and Galadriel knew about the already brewing conflict but the welfare of the children was more important as any quarrel. She would make sure of that.
Galadriel started when Elrohir let out a keening wail. The child´s upper body came up and frightened eyes looked at her uncomprehendingly.
“ADA, NANA" was all he cried before his little body slumped back on the pallet.
Galadriel checked for a pulse and took a deep breath when she found one but recognized that the boy was now unconscious.
Extending her senses outward Galdriel tracked the guards and when she was sure that no evil was lurking she place her right hand lightly over the child´s heart. Centring her thoughts, she called forth the power of the Ring.
A soft glow enveloped the child and wrapped the little body like a cocoon. Time seemed frozen.
`Hurry Celebrían, hurry Elrond´ Galadriel thought before she rested her head next to the child´s.
To be continued………………………
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