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On the knife’s edge  by Laikwalâssê

Chapter 11: Keeping spirits up

Just after her daughter, Galadriel entered the tent where they had placed Elrohir. The guard stepped back when the two she-elves entered.

Celebrían instantly knelt next to her son while Galadriel stood looking at the elfling intently. The guard left at a sign from his lady.

“Elrohir, dear, Nana is here,” Celebrían crooned her voice a bit too shrill. The elfling, however, was not hearing her neither was he recognizing anything going on around him.

The younger twin´s upper body was held upright by his straight arms behind him. He was shivering all over, and from wide open eyes, large tears were rolling down his cheeks.

“Dan, Dan he´s falling…no, do not let him fall…it hurt´s…help Ada…”

Celebrían tried to coax her son to lay back down again, but the small child put up an unexpected resistance.

“Dear, where do you hurt?” Celebrían asked frustration coloring her voice.

“Daughter,” Galadriel said softly but insistent. “It is not his pain. He is witnessing someone´s other hurts and fears.”

Galadriel frowned. Her daughter, more than all others, knew about the close connection between the twins and that they could feel each other's emotions. What was happening with her? Was she so trapped in her anger about Elrond´s rejection that she could no longer think straight?

This condition had to be remedied soon; otherwise, she would negatively affect this mission. Galadriel would fiercely defend her daughter´s decisions, but gradually she was beginning to understand why Elrond did not want his wife on the road. Even if she did not appreciate his course of action, she realized that his decision had been sound.

Celebrían looked up irritated.

“Do you think I do not know this? He is most certainly witnessing Elladan´s pain. But, why I ask you is my other son even in pain, Naneth? Elrond and Adar are with him, so why this great anguish?” Celebrían cried.

Galadriel narrowed her eyes. She had to act before her daughter could do more harm than good.

The Lady of Light knelt down placed one hand on the rigid back of the crying elfling and one hand on his forehead.

“Shhh, child. Your Ada is looking after your brother; all will be well. Now lay back down, dear and relax. We will do all in our power to prevent any harm to Dan.”

Slowly the shivering eased, and when the rigidness left the little body, Galadriel carefully guided the elfling back on the pallet.

When his head touched the pillow, Elrohir´s eyes had already drifted shut. With a bit assistance, Galadriel sent the boy back into a deep healing sleep with the promise that no harm could befall him.

When regular breaths indicated that Elrohir was again sleeping deeply, Galadriel gestured for her daughter to follow her out of the tent.

As soon as both she-elves had left, the Lothlórien guard slipped silently inside.

Celebrían was standing in the middle of the clearing, her gaze directed westwards toward the mountains. Galadriel stepped beside her daughter. Both elves stood perfectly still for long moments.

“Celebrían I am worried. Is there anything you want to tell me?” Galadriel did not look at her daughter; however, she felt the up-flaring anger and turned her head quickly.

“Mind your tone!” the older elf said warningly.

Celebrían took a deep breath. After she had briefly closed her eyes, she looked at her mother intently.

“Naneth, I was against this journey because of just these reasons we are now standing here. I feared that something terrible could happen and I was right. Elrond overruled my opinion and let them go. When we were informed that something happened to my children, he forbade me to come, and to top it all off he even shuts me out from our bond. You say I am angry? I am furious and with good reason.”

Her eyes were blazing, her whole-body rigid. Galadriel let her daughter´s emotional storm rage until she was forced to take a breath. This was her daughter one hundred percent, and she was proud of her self-conscious demeanor, but in this case, some things had to be set straight.

“Celebrían I see your point, I really do, yet I am sure Elrond would never have gone against your will if you had earnestly objected. Therefore, do not blame him alone. For not letting you come along I am grateful. Child, you know how dangerous these paths can be. He had enough on his mind to worry about. He only wanted to know you were safe. For shutting you out—this is an entirely different matter and something between you two which needs discussing. But, for now, your children need you, and your husband needs your support, not your anger. This can wait until later.”

When Galadriel had thought she had reached her daughter she was sorely mistaken a moment later.

“You are on my side, you say? I can see nothing on that behalf, Naneth. I am only interested in bringing my children home alive.”

After she had spoken, the Lady of Imladris turned and headed back to the tent. Galadriel had not outwardly reacted to her daughter´s words. She pressed her lips into a thin line. Her daughter was steering into a full-fledged martial crisis and with two injured children on the road.

 `One step at a time, my love.'

At the mental reassurance of her husband, Galadriel closed her eyes briefly.

 

…………………………………………………

 

When Tinár knelt next to the warrior, he swallowed. Just at the sight, Glorfindel looked already dead. As Elrond before him, he searched for a pulse. He had to keep perfectly still and quiet to feel the weak pounding.

The older healer had informed him about Glorfindel´s condition, and Tinár was of the same opinion that down here they would not be able to help the warrior. To bring him up the cliff was paramount.

“Tell me how I can help you best?” Tinár looked up at the Marchwarden. Some friendship had already formed during the short period they knew each other.

“First we need the litter. The tricky part will be to escort the litter up without too much jostling.”

Haldir nodded und turned. “Adar, please rope down the litter.”

A few minutes later, a sturdy construction of branches secured with thick ropes came down. On both sides of the litter were loops where braided lines were attached. The plank in the middle was cushioned with a thick blanket.

Haldir pulled the contraption as near as possible. A note was wedged between the branches. `Reduce the jostling to a minimum. I fear a break of the spine or something similar. Minimize the stress on the punctured lung. `

Tinár swallowed at the quickly scribbled words of Elrond.

“Easier said than done,” Haldir muttered while reading over the healer´s shoulder. Tinár nodded grimly.

“Let us begin. We have only three hours of daylight left.”

While Haldir unfolded the blanket, Tinár shoved his arms carefully under the still and cold body.

He took a deep breath and carefully lifted the limp body. The ledge was too narrow to make a full turnaround, so Tinár stepped sidewise until he had reached the litter. Slowly he crouched down and Haldir quickly shoved the litter under the body. Ever so slowly, Tinár lowered Glorfindel on the blanket.

The healer frowned. The warrior had made no sound or even twitched a muscle. Even if deeply unconscious, the body was feeling pain and reacted in some way. Glorfindel, however, showed no reaction at all.

Tinár was partly relieved that the warrior could not feel anything, yet he never knew if he did something wrong and worsened the condition. With a moaning or complaining patient, you could correct your handling anytime.

After placing the body down on the blanket, Tinár helped Haldir to carefully secure ropes over the breast, the belly, and the legs. With a wary eye, Tinár monitored the red patch on the right side of the shirt. Hopefully, nothing would get out of hand while going up the cliff.

“Let us test to see if this works,” Haldir said. “Adar, please left the litter but only a little bit.”

After a short confirmation, the two ropes went taut. The littler was lifted half a foot. Tinár swallowed when he saw how the branches scraped along the wall jostling the contraption with every pull.

Quickly Tinár and Haldir secured two further ropes around their middle, positioned themselves left and right of the litter and gave the signal. Celeborn and two guards pulled and the litter flanked from the two elves moved upwards.

They were already halfway up when the wind came up.

“Stop!” the healer called.

The litter was moved sideways by a gush of wind and Tinár, and Haldir grabbed the ropes to hold the litter steady. Celeborn had stopped the pulling waiting for the signal to proceed.

Just at this moment, Glorfindel moaned and struggled against the bonds.

“Wonderful,” Tinár muttered and moved in front of the litter pressing it on the wall.

Haldir followed his example, and so the elves protected the injured warrior from the wind and saved the litter from tipping.

“Lord Glorfindel, please do not struggle. We are guiding you up the cliff.” Tinár was not sure if the warrior had comprehended what was said, even though his eyes were directed at the young healer. To his relief, however, the warrior closed his eyes again. After a questioning look from Haldir, Tinár nodded.

“Continue,” Haldir cried and instantly the ropes went taut again.

Painstakingly slowly, the litter was hauled up, the two younger elves permanently correcting the alignment of the litter. Gratefully the warrior had not struggled again or reacted in any other way.

They had nearly reached the top and could already see Celeborn and the guards pulling them up when Tinár heard a crack.

He looked up sharply and saw some large stones loosened from the rim and came raining down.

He cried out a warning, but it was already too late. One of the larger stones hit Haldir on the head. Dazed, the Marchwarden released the hold on the litter and sagged down a few feet. Fortunately, he was secured by the rope to his middle. Tinár heard Celeborn swear until he had managed to stop his son´s fall.

“Please, Valar give us a breather!” Celeborn cried, his gaze accusingly directed at the heavens.

Tinár had bent himself over the warrior to prevent him from being hit by the boulders. He grunted when a large stone crashed into his back.

As soon as the avalanche had stopped, the healer straightened. Glorfindel had not been harmed; only his whole body was covered with smaller pebbles and dust. Maneuvering carefully, Tinár bent forward and looked down.

“Haldir are you alright?” Celeborn called.

Tinár feared that his friend was unconscious when a soft reply came.

“I am all right.”

Tinár saw the younger elf touch his head and his hand came away bloody. This was not good, not good at all.

“Stay where you are. We are pulling Glorfindel up and then coming after you,” Elrond had leaned over the rim and called out to Haldir.

When no answer came, the ropes of the litter went taut, and Glorfindel was hauled up the rest of the way with quick pulls. It took Tinár much effort to keep up.

In no time, the litter was dragged over the rim, and Tinár was grateful for two pairs of hands pulling him on safer ground.

For a few minutes, he only lay there breathing.

“Thank you,” he said softly as Celeborn bent over him.

The Elf-lord smiled. “You are welcome, young one.”

Tinár got up and came over to the litter. He began his examination of the injured warrior.

“Maybe you can stop chatting and help me up?”

Haldir had managed to come up to the rim alone, yet had not the strength to get over it. Elrond and Celeborn dragged the elf up. Carefully Elrond leaned the head of the Marchwarden back on the wall and took a look at the bleeding wound.

“I told you to wait,” Celeborn said annoyed, yet there was more worry than anger in his voice.

With blood still running down his face, Haldir managed a crooked grin.

“I did not want another boulder to ruin my haircut completely.”

Celeborn snorted. “As if there is anything to ruin.”

Elrond smiled inwardly. Celeborn was just doing the right thing by loosening a bit of the tension.

 

The healer carefully probed the wound on the skull and grimaced when he found a rather deep hole. He was surprised that the elf had not been unconscious at once.

Elrond held up his index finger.

“Haldir, please follow my finger with your eyes,” he instructed while moving his finger slowly to the right.

The eyes focused on the finger but moved a bit sluggish for the healer´s taste.

“Headache, dizziness?” he asked while pressing a pad over the wound. 

“I am tired,” Haldir retorted while Elrond was fixing the pad with a bandage Tinár had given him.

“Rest until we leave, but no sleeping” Elrond instructed, and Haldir closed his eyes while nodding.

When Elrond straightened up, he looked into the concerned eyes of Celeborn.

“He has a slight concussion. We will take a look at him on the way back. Someone has to ride with him.”

Celeborn nodded and grimaced. “As if we do not have enough on our mind.”

Elrond clapped his father-in-law on the shoulder. He knew that the older elf´s irritation was not directed at his son.

Elrond turned while taking a deep breath. After checking on his still sleeping son, he knelt next to his assistant.

“Any new insights?” he asked.

Tinár had meanwhile cleaned and bandaged many cuts, abrasions, and scrapes and had bandaged the open bump on Glorfindel´s head.

He shook his head.

“I am still worried over his prolonged and deep unconsciousness. He came around half way up, but I am not sure he recognized his surroundings.”

Elrond frowned. He had thought a lot about this problem. If Glorfindel had broken his spine or some grievous injury to his back, this could explain some of his symptoms but not this total lack of response.

Again, he thought back on the warrior´s visitation at the orc´s assault on Elrohir. This had undoubtedly cost much energy, but it could not be the only reason. Had Glorfindel again extended his senses, and so depleted his reservoir of strength to a life-threatening level?

Elrond sighed.

Anyway, they had to get off this damned cliff first and find a location where he could make a thorough examination. It would help Elrond a lot more to assess his state if Glorfindel was awake.

Elrond squeezed the shoulder of his young colleague in sympathy and rose.

He was just about to announce their departure when Celeborn cried out in surprise. Elrond whirled around into the direction of the silver-haired elf and followed his outstretched arm.

He narrowed his eyes at the dark point quickly coming closer. Then he gasped. A big eagle was coming directly toward them. There was no doubt that he was looking at the spot they were standing on.

Elrond quickly turned, grabbed two blankets and tossed one at Tinár. The young healer caught it in mid-air and covered Glorfindel. Celeborn caught the second one and placed it over Elladan. A guard covered the head of Haldir with his cloak.

Not a second too early. An enormous gush of wind hauled at the mountain wall. The mighty beast slowed down only a little bit, brought his clawed feet in front and descended on the cliff trail.

Tinár let out a cry of surprise when the bird´s claws dug into the belly of dead Asfaloth.

The eagle intensified the flapping of his great wings and then lifted the horse up. Burdened by the additional weight the great bird sagged down a few feet but soon recovered and sailed majestically away with his heavy load.

Elrond stood there speechless. It happened very rarely that an eagle of Manwë could be seen. According to the stunned faces of Tinár and the guards, they had never seen one, and even he and Celeborn had the opportunity only once or twice in their lives.

What a courtesy to the dead companion of Glorfindel. This would mean much to the warrior.

Elrond looked at his son and Glorfindel after the blankets had been removed. What a pity that both had not been able to witness this. It would have given the warrior some peace of mind and his son quite a story to tell his brother.

He shrugged. It could not be changed.

“We should move on.  A storm is brewing.”

Elrond looked up sharply at the words of Celeborn. He directed his gaze into the distance but could not detect any clouds.

When he raised his famous eyebrow at his father-in-law, Celeborn sighed.

“Not there,” he said while nodding his head at the heavens, “there.”

He pointed his index finger at Elrond´s heart.

“Use your bond, Peredhel.”

Celeborn turned to gather their supplies while Elrond gasped.

 

To be continued…

      





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