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Chapter 14: a bit of coming closer
“Orcs, Orcs attacking the camp!”
When Elrond heard the warning, his heart nearly missed a beat. He looked at Erestor, and without a word, both elves ran back to the clearing. From the corner of his eye, Elrond saw how Erestor readied his sword. He had not even noticed that his advisor had brought the weapon along. His sword he had left at the camp.
As they neared the clearing, Elrond could already hear the usual sneers of orcs and shouted commands of Celeborn.
`Only a few more strides and I am there,` Elrond thought overcoming a fallen log with a mighty leap. When he heard the high pitched cry of his wife, he stormed into the clearing; a sword thrust into his hands. He had no time to look who had done this because an orc was already running toward him.
Elrond got into a defensive crouch and waited until the beast was near enough. With a precise and mighty stroke, he beheaded the orc. The body fell to the ground with a dull thud.
He quickly looked around and was glad to see Tinár, Celeborn, Haldir and the guards fighting and holding their ground. He could not see his wife however and hoped that she and Galadriel were hiding in one of the tents.
The elves were building a protective circle around the tents, and no orc so far had managed to slip past them. Elrond made quick work of another orc stupid enough to come too near.
He swallowed as more and more orcs were swarming into the clearing. He could easily fight five or six orcs, yet time was a factor. Even elves tired and if they did not gain the upper hand soon the sheer mass of orcs would overrun them sooner or later.
When Haldir cried out, Elrond whirled around. The Marchwarden was holding his upper arm, but the healer could see no blood. Perhaps it was only a hard blow?
While skewering another orc, Elrond saw Haldir raise his sword and attacked anew. No broken bone apparently.
The short diversion, however, was enough to allow two orcs to slip through their defense. Celeborn was quick to take action and slew the one nearest to him.
Before Elrond could react or shout a warning, one orc had vanished into the tent his children were resting and presumably Galadriel and Celebrian.
While Elrond knew that Galadriel and Celebrían were trained with the sword and could use them effectively, fighting a mad orc in an enclosed space with two injured children to consider was nothing he wanted to imagine.
Without losing another second Elrond and Celeborn started toward the tent, yet stopped when the orc emerged again, a bewildered look on his face. Elrond frowned. What had happened inside?
While making quick work of the still stunned orc, Elrond stole a quick glance at Celeborn and saw a little smile on the fair-haired elf´s face. What magic was working here? The healer shook his head. No matter, the important thing was that the orc had not found what he was looking for or so he hoped.
The mass of orcs was still great, yet Elrond noticed that no more were coming. However, when he took a quick look around, he saw Tinár was clutching his side and one of the guards—Thalan he was sure—was kneeling on the ground with a pain contorted face, his colleague standing over him and fighting the advancing orcs off.
“This has to stop now,” Celeborn called while moving toward him until the two elves were stood back to back.
“I agree,” Elrond retorted. The healer knew what Celeborn was attempting. Draw the attention of the orcs toward them to give the injured a breather.
The orcs took the bait and concentrated on the two elves and like in a practiced choreography, both thrust and parried in a deadly dance until a heap of orc-bodies piled around them.
When the last orc fell, Elrond sank to his knees panting. Rivulets of sweat ran down his face.
“Are you alright, peredhel? You look awful,” Celeborn ground out between clenched teeth as he knelt on his knees too.
“As do you, my lord,” Elrond retorted while looking the Elf-lord over. Apart from a few cuts, he could see nothing serious.
While Celeborn kept sitting, Elrond stood back to his feet.
“I will look at you shortly,” Elrond called out while he passed an also kneeling Tinár. The younger healer only nodded still clutching his side.
Elrond ran toward the tent and entered. He had taken a deep breath before he entered. When he stepped inside, he stopped and started. The tent was empty, but when he looked closer…
Just then a big cloak was thrown up, and his wife, Galadriel and his sons, all crowded together appeared before his eyes.
Seeing the nonplussed expression on his face, Galadriel smiled. “A trick my father taught me.”
Elrond raised an eyebrow and stored this information away for later. Then he sighed relieved. The ellith and his sons were safe, and no further harm had come to them.
“They are still sleeping,” Galadriel said when Elrond scrutinized his sons.
Celebrían had risen, and when she was passing past him, he touched her elbow.
“Are you alright?” he asked softly. He could feel her shivering.
She only nodded and left the tent.
“Be patient, Elrond,” Galadriel said softly. The healer nodded and was just about to exit the tent when they heard the pain-filled cry of Celebrían.
Elrond turned instantly and left the tent. He looked bewildered at his wife lying on the ground a long knife sticking out of her calf.
An orc believed to be dead was snickering trying to crawl away. The laughter went into a gurgling when a guard skewered the orc with his sword.
“Cel!” Celeborn cried and was already running toward his daughter. Elrond knelt beside his wife swallowing. The crude and rusty knife was still sticking into her calf, thus sealing the wound.
He gently caressed his wife´s sweat covered face. “Do not move too much. I have to remove the knife in a controlled motion.”
Celebrian only nodded.
“Concentrate on her, I will look after Tinár,” Galadriel said. She had also left the tent and was now heading toward the younger healer. “Celeborn, please follow me.”
The silver-haired elf looked irritated at his wife but then complied. His daughter was in good hands, and others needed attention too. While he hastened after his wife, Galadriel approached the injured guard.
Elrond nodded gratefully. He had already promised to look after his colleague, but the wound of his wife looked more urgent or so he hoped. He had no time to assess what kind of injury Tinár had suffered.
Elrond scooped his wife into his arms and hastened into the middle of the clearing where Erestor had already opened his bag and prepared some healing supplies.
Celebrían was gritting her teeth and had clenched her eyes shut as Elrond set her down carefully with her back leaned against a log.
“Are you alright?” Elrond asked his advisor while he washed his hands in a small bowl with water.
“I am fine,” Erestor replied while he placed a folded blanket next to Celebrían.
Together they slowly rolled her on her side so that Elrond had better access to the knife.
Quickly Elrond looked up and was pleased to see that Galadriel was tending to Tinár and Celeborn was caring for the injured guard. A wink from Haldir just emerging from his sons´ tent confirmed that all was well.
Leveling his mind, he concentrated on the wound of his wife. Considering the length of the knife, the blade was embedded deep, yet he doubted that it had reached the bone.
“Celebrían I have to tug out the knife. This will hurt, but it will lessen quickly once it is out. Are you ready?”
“Do it,” was all the daughter of Celeborn ground out.
Elrond nodded at Erestor, and the dark-haired elf tightened his hold on his First lady´s shoulder and hip.
“One…” with a determined tug Elrond retrieved the knife and placed it aside.
“What happened to two and three?” Celebrían gasped but now let out a sigh of relief.
Elrond quickly pressed a thick pad to the wound and held it for some moments to staunch the bleeding. He monitored his wife carefully, but Celebrían´s breathing slowly returned to normal, and apart from an expectable pale face, she appeared to be coping well.
After a few moments, he retrieved the soaked pad and replaced it with a new. He then tightly wrapped a bandage around it to hold it in place.
“What about the pain?” Elrond asked while he and Erestor helped to turn her on her back and lean against at the log.”
“It is bearable,” Celebrían said her gaze directed at her lap. Elrond made sure that no blood was seeping through the bandage and that Celebrían was resting as comfortable as could be. He cushioned the log with her cloak and offered her a sip of water which she took gratefully.
“I will see how Tinár is doing,” Erestor declared already rising. After a nod from Elrond, he walked over where Celeborn was still treating the younger healer.
“I will join you shortly,” Elrond called after him.
Elrond kept sitting beside his wife appreciatively registering that the guards were removing the dead orc bodies from the clearing. Haldir was helping, and Elrond made a mental note to look after the Marchwarden as soon as the injured had been cared for. He had not forgotten about the painful cry during the battle; even a deep bruise needed dressing.
Elrond was just about to rise when a slender hand touched his elbow.
“Elrond, a moment?” Celebrían´s voice was soft.
The healer sat back down and looked at his wife. “I can mix you a painkiller,” he offered.
Celebrían shook her head. “It is not that.” She gathered one hand of her husband in her´s. “Elrond, I had no right to try and slap you. I overreacted.”
Elrond nodded. He was too worn out to answer something appropriate. He retrieved his hand and squeezed his wife´s shoulder softly.
“I will have a look at Tinár and Thalan and then let us care for the boys, shall we?”
Elrond knelt next to Celeborn and Tinár. The young healer had his eyes closed and was apparently sleeping. Celeborn was repacking the remaining healing supplies.
“How is he?” Elrond asked looking at the thick bandage around Tinár´s middle.
Celeborn addressed his son-in-law. “He has acquired a deep stab wound just below his ribs.” When Elrond swallowed and narrowed his eyes, Celeborn touched his lower arm in a placating gesture.
“It looks worse than it is. The scimitar has only gone through skin and flesh; no organ was pierced. The bleeding has already stopped. I gave him something for the pain.”
Elrond nodded his face still taut. Celeborn was well trained in the healing arts, and he trusted his statement. Tinár looked content so far.
Just now Galadriel came over. “Thalan is alright. Just a broken ankle and a deep cut to the upper arm.”
Elrond sighed relieved. No severe damage there also, yet the summary of injured was bad enough. The way home would be a difficult one.
“How is Celebrían?” Galadriel asked. Celeborn had already joined his daughter.
“A stab wound to her calf. No sinew affected but a torn muscle. It has already stopped bleeding and should heal well.”
“And how are you?” Galadriel asked looking at the healer intently. Absentmindedly Elrond touched the bandage on his upper arm. He had nearly forgotten about the cut.
“I am alright,” he answered curtly not liking to be scrutinized by Galadriel.
“I did not mean that peredhel,” she replied her tone tinged with irritation. Galadriel nodded toward her daughter.
Elrond directed his gaze also at his wife and saw how Celeborn was hugging his daughter. Was she crying?
“We talked—sort of,” he replied.
Galadriel placed a palm on the side of her son-in-law´s head and gently forced his gaze toward her.
“That was a start but no talking, young one.”
Elrond squirmed out of touch.
“I promised her to let her check on the twins, and Glorfindel needs my attention also.”
Galadriel sighed. Stubborn half-elf, but in stubbornness, she could outrank him easily.
“The boys are still sleeping, and Glorfindel is also resting comfortably. He even asked for water and food. You see all are cared for and now you can rest.”
Elrond looked at his mother-in-law bewildered. He did not like being told what to do.
“I am not tired and…” He shook his head when he felt he could barely hold his eyes open.
“Oh yes you are,” Galadriel said softly catching the upper body of the healer already slumping forward. The short contact had sufficed to work her magic.
Galadriel placed the head of the dark-haired healer carefully on a blanket and covered him with another one.
After she had scanned their surroundings and found nothing disturbing, she joined her husband and daughter at a small campfire.
Tomorrow they would finally return home.
To be continued…
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