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Chapter 10: over the edge
Galadriel started when someone was gently tapping on her shoulder. Her eyes focused and she blinked.
“My lady, someone is nearing the camp.”
The warrior inclined his head and left the tent Galadriel had rested in next to her grandson. She quickly checked the state of the boy and nodded satisfied when she detected at least no deterioration. Elrohir was sleeping deeply, his face still flushed from the fever.
She stretched and rose. Galadriel had in fact fallen asleep after she had called on the power of Nenya. She straightened her clothes and stepped outside the tent.
The guard, who had woken her, stood to the left and she sensed the other guards near or in the trees. She directed her gaze toward the edge of the little clearing.
I greet you, my daughter. I am glad you arrived well, she addressed the words mentally at Celebrían, riding in front of her entourage.
And I am happy to be here, Naneth, she silently replied back.
Not ten minutes later the Lady of Imladris, another dark-haired elf, and four more guards were entering the clearing.
Celebrían dismounted and walked straight toward her mother. With narrowed eyes, she looked around.
“Where´s Elrond and Adar?” she asked.
Galadriel looked at her daughter intently. She felt the tension emanating from her.
“Will you not introduce me to your travel companion?” Galadriel asked her voice still light.
“Where are my children, Naneth?”
The sharp command caused the wife of Elrond to flinch.
“Forgive me, Naneth. This is Lord Erestor, chief administrator of Imladris.”
The dark-haired elf had dismounted too and moved next to the elleth.
“May the sun shine on the hour of our meeting, Lady Galadriel.” Erestor bowed lightly.
“Well met, Erestor, your reputation precedes you. I am glad you accompanied my daughter on her way over the mountains. I am glad there is still one cool mind present.”
Celebrían raised an eyebrow whereas Erestor´s face stayed expressionless.
Galadriel ignored the impatient breath from her daughter. She turned her attention back to her.
“I have sent your Adar to accompany your husband to bring Elladan and Glorfindel into safety.”
“Elrond is not here?” Celebrían cried her hands clenching.
“Elrohir is injured, and Elrond left him alone?”
Galadriel´s eyes narrowed ever so slightly.
“Elrohir is not alone; I am here. Elrond and your Adar are just bringing your other son back. Glorfindel is in dire need of help also.”
Celebrían´s eyes blazed. “He is the source of all this mess here. He will have to answer to me.”
With that, the First Lady turned and walked toward the only tent at the clearing. She ducked inside and closed the flap.
Erestor turned and begun unloading the pack-horses. He intended to build up a functional camp until the healers, and the Lothlórien elves would arrive. Elrond would need and appreciate it as soon as he was back. To care for two injured children and possibly an injured Glorfindel would take all his attention.
When Galadriel entered the tent, her daughter was bent over her son caressing his flushed face. With a critical look, she looked her child over.
“What happened to my child?” she asked when sensing her mother.
Galadriel sat next to the low pallet.
“As far as I have learned, Glorfindel and the twins were surprised by unexpected weather. An avalanche dragged Glorfindel and Elladan down a cliff. Elrohir was fortunate to stay on the mountain. He wandered toward home where Elrond and Tinár met him halfway. I do not know any more yet.”
The other half of the story I will tell you in due time, Galadriel thought. Celeborn was regularly reporting to her on their progress.
During the short report, Celebrían had first paled, but now her face was flushed. She took a deep breath.
“And how has my son acquired these injuries when he was so fortunate not to be affected by the avalanche, Naneth?” Celebrían was pointing at the elfling´s thickly bandaged shoulder and shin.
Galadriel took a deep breath.
“I understand your frustration, but I do not appreciate your tone. Leave this tent.”
Celebrían flinched. Her mother´s reply was calm and soft, yet her tone icy. She had overstepped a line.
“Leave. You son needs your support, not your anger.”
Celebrían pressed her lips into a thin line and rushed out of the tent. Galadriel checked on her grandson and sighed relieved when she sensed the boy was still in a deep healing sleep she had sent him earlier.
As soon as Galadriel had left the tent, her daughter whirled around.
“Naneth, Elrond is shutting me out…”
Again, Galadriel did not let her daughter finish her sentence.
“Celebrían stop! I am disappointed in you. I hear nothing but complaining. I do not appreciate Elrond shutting you out, but now I see his reason. He needs a clear mind. You would do good in supporting your husband. It is unworthy of you. I am glad your Adar is not witnessing this.”
Celebrían stepped back in shock.
“If Glorfindel had not persisted on this stupid tour nothing would have happened, and I would not have to fear for my children´s lives,” she cried her hands raised in agitation.
Galadriel took another step toward her daughter.
“Glorfindel is the only reason that both of your sons are still alive.”
The Lady of Light turned and walked back toward the tent.
Celebrían stood there rooted to the spot.
Just then, a guard came rushing toward the two ellith.
“What?” she cried.
“My lady, please come quickly. Something is not right with your grandson.”
The two she-elves ran toward the tent at the guard's words.
Without conscious thought, Elrond had stepped back on the ledge, turned and slithered to the edge of the rim. Quickly he stretched his hand after the falling elf. With just his fingertips he was able to grab something. He closed his fingers around some strap. He grabbed hold of Tinár from falling yet the momentum was dragging him forward. With his other hand, he pulled over the rock, desperately trying to get some hold.
“Ada, we are falling!” Elladan screamed on his father’s back in terror nearly choking him by wrapping his arms tightly around his neck. His foot caught on some rock, and at the last moment, he stopped sliding.
“Elrond, you must…” Tinár said softly and weirdly controlled. His eyes, however, spoke another language.
“Silence,” Elrond hissed. “No further words and no movement.”
Elrond panted with the exertion. The weight of Tinár strained his injured arm beyond anything bearable. His left foot was wedged behind a rock, the full weight of Tinár and his own tearing him down.
The healer had frozen. He wanted nothing more than to take his weight off the healer´s arm but he knew that one small movement could push all three of them over the edge. He saw the strain and the rivulets of sweat on Elrond´s face. The panicked eyes of Elladan were staring down at him.
“Keep absolutely still, Elladan,” Elrond ground out between clenched teeth.
“Please do not move.” The elfling stilled but Tinár was not sure if he stopped moving due to his father´s words or from fright.
Ever so slowly, Tinár looked up and swallowed when he saw Haldir scrambling down the rope toward them. The last few feet Haldir slipped down. When he landed on the ledge, he instantly knelt, bent forward and stretched out his hand.
“Take my hand, now!” he cried. Haldir was sure that Elrond would lose his hold any second.
The young healer risked all. He stretched out one hand and reached for the hand of the Lothlórien elf.
When Elrond saw that Haldir had a good grip, he released his precarious hold on the strap of the bag Tinár had slung over his back. Now he could prevent being dragged over the rim with his son.
With a mighty tug, Haldir hoisted the younger healer onto the ledge.
All three adult elves lay there panting, the elfling frozen on his father´s back, no longer screaming but silently crying.
“Haldir, Tinár, Elrond? Are you alright?” The voice of Celeborn held worry and frustration.
Long moments neither of the four moved. Haldir was the first to recover.
“Tinár is safe. Elrond will come up in a moment,” Haldir informed his foster father.
The young healer had already risen. His knees shaking slightly, he looked at Haldir.
“Thank you, without your quick reaction…” the healer looked pointedly at the chasm.
Haldir waved a hand. “You are welcome, but now we should finally ascend before my father goes out of his mind.”
Tinár nodded and turned. Elrond rose carefully on his hands and knees as to not jostle the elfling too much.
“Tinár, please look at Elladan´s leg. I will immediately ascend if all is well.”
Elrond sensed that the younger healer fought with his emotions.
“Tinár we will talk later but now time is of the essence.”
The younger elf knelt and immediately began checking the elfling´s leg.
“Lord Elrond, if I may make a suggestion? I will take your son and bring him up. Tinár can look at your arm, and you can come up after me much easier without the additional weight.”
Haldir looked pointedly at the ever-growing red stain on the healer´s sleeve.
“I will go back down and help Tinár prepare Glorfindel for the ride up. You can care for your son while we help Glorfindel.”
Hearing his still crying son and looking at the still body of Glorfindel Elrond finally nodded. He felt drained, and his arm hurt.
“Sounds like a plan,” he answered curtly.
In no time, Elladan had been removed from his father´s back after Tinár had checked that no further harm had come to his leg. The tears were a testimony to the tired mind of the elfling. Just as quickly, Elrond had secured the boy on Haldir´s back.
Just as Haldir had called out to his father to tighten the rope, Elladan squirmed.
“Ada, I want to go with you,” he wailed. He removed his hands from around the younger elf´s neck.
Elrond sighed. “Elladan, you have to go with Haldir. I will be right behind you. So, I can have a better look at your leg and make sure you cannot fall.”
When the elfling nodded reluctantly and had his hands again around the neck of the fair-haired elf´s neck, Haldir gave the signal again.
“I will not let him fall,” Haldir muttered silently.
“I know,” Elrond answered just as quietly, and Haldir started.
“We are ready, up,” Haldir called.
“I will be back shortly,” he said this time directed at Tinár.
The rope went taut, and Haldir began the ascent. Tinár was already re-bandaging the older healer´s arm.
“This should do,” he said. Elrond realized that Tinár was not looking at him. A talk was in order as soon as the injured were cared for.
Elrond grabbed the second rope Celeborn had thrown down. One of the guards would secure the other end.
He began ascending the cliff wall his eyes on his son.
“You are doing well, Elladan. I see you. All is well.”
The elfling did not even react. He had squeezed his eyes shut.
Quickly the two elves had reached the top and were hoisted over the rim by Celeborn and the guard.
Elrond took his son from Haldir´s back and placed him on a blanket Celeborn had already spread on the ground. Haldir instantly turned and grabbed the rope, Celeborn again securing him.
“The litter will be ready when you call,” he said.
Haldir nodded and had already swung over the rim. In no time, he had joined the waiting Tinár.
When the rope went slack, Celeborn knelt beside his son-in-law. Elrond was already busy sending his son into a healing sleep after he had checked on his leg. The unexpected endeavor had done no further harm to the broken limb.
Celeborn waved at the drowsy child.
“Hello, my little warrior,” he called smiling at the dirty face of the boy.
“Hello, Daerada. I have fallen down a cliff…” the eyelids of the elfling already drifted shut.
“This I have heard, but you have been very brave I was told.”
A small smile had appeared on the face of the elfling before he closed his eyes.
When Elrond was sure that his son was sleeping deeply he covered him with another blanket.
The healer rose and looked at the spot where Celeborn had already placed a makeshift litter.
“Now on to the tricky part…,” he said with a sigh.
Celeborn stepped into the healer´s path.
“Elrond, take a breath and sit down. A sip of water and a bite to eat will not hurt. Haldir and Tinár will need some time preparing Glorfindel.”
When the Lord of Imladris started to protest Celeborn narrowed his eyes.
“Elrond Eärendilion, if I shall help appropriate I need some information, you will give me now. It would also not hurt to inform your wife. She has a right to know how her children fare.”
With that, the silver-haired elf turned and left the healer standing speechless.
To be continued…
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