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On the knife’s edge  by Laikwalâssê

Chapter 12: stop-over

Elrond held up his hand and called for a stop. They had made a good way the last hours, but now he wanted to check on his patients.

He nodded gratefully when Celeborn dismounted quickly and approached to take a drowsy Elladan down. Elrond dismounted and stretched his muscles. With his leg, he had supported the splinted leg of his son, his shin now feeling nearly numb from being held in the same position for so long.

Looking around, Elrond was pleased to see the path widen to a little dent not ten feet ahead and upon listening carefully, he could hear a small stream running to the side. Perfect!

The guards were already busy unloading some supplies and building a makeshift camp. Two of them had vanished into the trees and one to collect firewood and water.

He thought back to their departure nearly two days ago. After Celeborn´s reprimand, he had opened his mind and almost stumbled back with the intensity of emotions coming his way.

His wife was still angry—no fuming, furious. He had frowned at the intensity of her incomprehension. Yes, he had not wished for her to come on this rescue mission for two reasons. First and paramount was in fear for her safety and second because he knew how very emotional and her being protective of her children. Even if he loved her for this, he needed a clear mind to prevent any further harm to his children. Elrond did not need her emotional ranting on such a delicate mission. He was stressed enough with the worry for his sons and the concern for Glorfindel, that he did not have the patience to placate his irate wife. And now, he had learned that she was here against his explicit wish. This was his mothers-in-law doing, and he was not pleased that she had complicated a difficult mission even more.

With a troubled heart, he had started the return journey not looking forward to meeting his wife at the camp where he had left Elrohir. After trying to contact her mentally and a brusque rejection, he had not tried again. He would deal with his wife later. His focus now lay on his sons and of course Glorfindel. He did not let it show, but his troop commander´s condition worried him greatly.

Uncounted times he had treated grievous injuries Glorfindel had obtained while simply doing his job—protecting Imladris—yet he had never found him in a state like this—body and spirit at a low level, nor responding.

If Glorfindel had broken his spine in the fall—and Elrond was now relatively sure of that—and had to lie unmoving all these days and nights then he had spent too much life energy to hold his fëa up. Additionally, the ancient elf had depleted his resources in helping his sons. Elrond had witnessed one time, and he still shuddered when Elladan had told him from his “excursion” with Asfaloth. These two actions had most likely rescued his children spirits and even bodies but pushed the warrior over the edge.

Before they had departed, Elrond had treated the wound to the lung and after he had removed the protruding rib and closed the wound and the bleeding had stopped this injury would heal. Any human would have long died of blood loss, pain and a down shutting system. Even if being a pure and strong elf, Glorfindel had his limits and they had been reached if not even breached.

Elrond started when someone squeezed his shoulder.

“One step at a time, son,” Celeborn said carrying a sleeping Elladan into the tent Tinár had meanwhile erected.

“I am this readable?” Elrond retorted, annoyed at himself.

Celeborn waved a hand.  “Yes, you are, Peredhel.”

Elrond walked toward the litter which they had attached between the two pack-horses after they had left the mountain trail. The guard who had provided the water and Tinár were already busy unloading it.

Elrond spoke softly to the mares and coaxed them to stand still. “Careful now, no twisting and jostling. The wound to the ribs is very precarious.”

Tinár and the guard nodded grimly. Both remembered vividly the three times they had to stop the last two days when the wound had started bleeding again. Tinár was sure that the warrior had not one drop of blood left in his body.

“We will place him in the second tent, Elladan is awake and had asked for you,” Tinár said, and Elrond nodded.

He headed for the shelter his son was resting in. He slipped inside and smiled at Celeborn sitting next to the pallet and talking to his son.

“…and see here is your Ada. Until later my brave warrior.” Celeborn waved while making space for the healer. Elrond thanked the Lord of the Golden Wood silently.

After sitting down, Elrond caressed his son´s cheek checking for fever and pouring healing energy into the small body. Celeborn smiled when the child relaxed instantly only knowing that a touch from Ada brought relief. He left silently.

“Ada?” Elladan asked softly after opening his eyes. “Where is Ro?”

“Your brother is with your…Naneth and Daernaneth.” Elrond still had to come to terms with the fact that his wife was at the camp they would hopefully reach the next few days.

When Elladan did not react as expected Elrond frowned.  “Elladan what is wrong?” the healer asked puzzled. He had expected excitement or at least joy from his son.

“Ada, have we done something wrong?”

Elrond´s frown changed in barely masked irritation at this question. “Why do you ask this, Elladan?” Elrond guarded his features carefully. As small as his sons were they were already masters in reading facial expressions.

“Nana is angry at you, and you do not want to speak with her. Is it because of us?” The under-lip of the elfling begun to quiver.

Elrond took a deep breath and closed his eyes briefly. How had the twins witnessed their quarrel? Elrohir must have reached out to his brother. Elrond´s anger flared up again. Celebrían must have let her son see her anger toward him. But was he without guilt? Had he let his guard be also breached?

This had to stop now. Like all elves, the twins´ physical state was linked with the mental health. If one part suffered, the other could suffer also.

Knowing that he could not fool his son Elrond swallowed. “Elladan, Ada, and Nana had some quarrel over the best way to help you two and Glorfindel, but that has nothing to do with you or your brother doing something wrong, understood?”

Elladan nodded half-heartedly, and Elrond was sure that some information was already passed on to Elrohir.

“You or Nana will not leave us?” was the timid reply.

Elrond sighed and bent down to carefully lift his son into his arms. He hugged the boy to his chest and stayed thus for long moments.

“No Elladan. Neither of us will leave you two as long as you need us. I promise.”

When he felt a nod at his shoulder, Elrond lowered the child back on the pallet.

“And now sleep, my son. The next time you wake we have will have already reached the camp with your brother and Nana.”

Elladan nodded again, and his eyes drifted shut.

Elrond had woven the threads of sleep thickly this time to guarantee the child a deep and trouble-free sleep.

When Elrond stepped outside the tent, Celeborn was looking at him with a raised eyebrow. “Let deeds follow your words, son. A serious talk is in order.”

Elrond nodded. He was tired, but he had to look after Glorfindel first. Maybe some light at the end of the tunnel there?

 

 

When Elrond ducked under the tent flap, Tinár was just finishing rewrapping the warrior´s side wound. When he sensed the healer´s approach, he looked up.

“No more bleeding and the healing looks well enough for me.”

“That is not what worries me.” Elrond sat down and reached out a hand to the fair-haired elf´s neck. The pulse was there but shallow as before. Again, there was no reaction to any stimulation.

Elrond nodded in appreciation when he saw how thoughtfully Glorfindel was placed on a heavily cushioned cot, a warm blanket covering from head to toe. When Tinár started to leave, Elrond touched the younger healer´s arm.

“Tinár, a word?”

Reluctantly the younger elf nodded. Elrond left the tent after his colleague.

Tinár was standing in the middle of the little clearing his back rigid. Elrond knew what was weighing down the young healer and he wanted to get this talk over with sooner than later.

“Tinár would you be so kind to have a look at my arm?” Elrond had spoken softly, yet the younger healer´s head snapped up.

Tinár was intelligent enough to see where Elrond aimed his request. Doing his profession would possibly loosen some tension, yet he was also confronted with part of his trouble.

“Of course,” Tinár said while Elrond took a seat at a log. The young healer rolled up the sleeve and unwrapped the bandage. The stitched cut still looked inflamed and swollen. Tinár pressed his lips into a thin line. He reached into his ever-present bag slung over his shoulders, but Elrond stilled his hand.

“Tinár, it was not your fault, and I thank all Valar that I was able to grab you at the last moment. I would have given this arm to rescue you. This wound will heal quickly.”

Tinár shook his head vehemently and swallowed against the lump forming in his throat.  “But I nearly dragged you and Elladan over the edge. I put too much strain on your arm and maybe damaged it even more…you should not have grabbed me….” His voice broke, and he closed his eyes.

Elrond took both of the young healer´s hands in his. “Tinár, but it did not happen and as I said it will heal. Nothing to worry about. I will need your full concentration the following days. I need someone to rely on to help with the care for Glorfindel, Elladan, and Haldir and what may happen to us on the way home. I know no one I would trust more with this task. Can I count on you?”

The young healer took a deep breath and nodded.

Elrond smiled. “Good and I need gain against these Wood Elves from Lothlórien. Always meaning being second to none to everyone.”

This time Tinár smiled. “A strange lot sometimes, my lord, but your wife is a Lothlórien elf also, is she not?” he asked carefully. He had seen in time the Lord of the Golden Wood nearing. Elrond winked at his colleague.

“Who is a strange lot?” the silver-haired elf asked with a raised eyebrow.

“Noooooo one!” Tinár and Elrond said in unison and left a frowning Elf-lord standing.

 

 

Elrond woke with a start. He was not aware of going to sleep. After he had looked after Haldir and made sure that the Marchwarden was also resting, despite his protest and confirmation that all was well, he had moved into Glorfindel´s tent and sat beside the cot. His hand lightly resting on the warrior´s chest he must have dozed off.

He blinked when he recognized the noise that had woken him again. A groan. Now he was wide awake.

He bent forward to look at the warrior´s face. To his surprise, the eyes were open.

“Glorfindel, can you hear me?” Elrond asked softly while lightly tapping a finger on the other´s cheek to get his attention.

The warrior´s eyes focused on the healer´s face. Elrond took a cup of water placed next to the bed and held it to his friend´s lips. Elrond frowned. Though licking his lips, Glorfindel did not make any attempt to lift his upper body or even his head. This was unusual. Elrond always had to restrain the injured not to move too fast.

Elrond placed a hand under the warrior´s neck and lifted him up so he could take a sip. Again, Elrond had to position the cup at Glorfindel´s lips and even tip it.

“Glorfindel, how do you feel?” Elrond watched the warrior intently.

“I have been better.”

Elrond narrowed his eyes. This was also unusual for the ancient elf. Glorfindel had always downplayed his condition when injured; now this admission did not fit him.

“This I can see, “Elrond answered more irritated than he had intended. “Tell me where you hurt.”

Almost bored, Glorfindel looked at the tent roof. “Breathing hurts.”

Elrond sighed. “I can imagine. Glorfindel what is with your lower back, your feet. Can you move them? Have you any feeling there?”

Glorfindel directed his gaze back at the healer. “How are the boys?”

Elrond took a deep breath. Stalling. Alright. “They are alright considering the circumstances. Elrohir we found on the way, and Elladan has a broken leg. Nothing dramatically serious, even if I will keep a close eye on them.”

When Glorfindel did not outwardly react to this information and looked away, Elrond turned back the warrior´s head by gently placing two fingers on his chin.

“You have not answered my question, Lord Glorfindel.”

The formal address generated a reaction.

“What do you want to hear, great healer? I have no feeling at all down my spine or my legs. Nor can I move. I cannot even determine if I have to relieve myself. Satisfied now?” After an angry glare, the warrior lowered his eyes.

Elrond swallowed partly aghast over the confirmation of his assumption. “Glorfindel, do not despair yet it can only be….”

The healer had no chance to finish his sentence. “Oh, Elrond give me a break! I am no half-wit. I know what I am feeling or better said not feeling. You should have disposed of me on the ledge. Save the grief.”

Elrond closed his eyes briefly and blew out his breath. `Valar help us, ´ he prayed silently.

 

To be continued…

      





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