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A/N: to understand this story fully it would be advisable to read part 1.
Warning: the story is rated PG-13: this chapter contains violence, disturbing themes, and death
Chapter 7: when all hope is lost
When the impact came, Glorfindel looked up in surprise. The arrow pointed at him had missed widely. Instead, a long and slender projectile was sticking out from the middle of the Uruk´s forehead.
He craned his neck to see where the arrow had come from. He clearly recognized the fletching. At least from three directions projectiles were raining down killing every orc or Uruk within minutes.
Seconds later elves came running from all directions into the clearing. Glorfindel could see Elrond, his sons and the sons of Lord Celeborn. He sighed in relief and briefly closed his eyes. While the adrenalin rush slowly faded, he felt his injuries all the more.
“Glorfindel, are you alright?”
Without opening his eyes, he identified the healer´s concerned voice and already felt someone loosening his bonds.
Glorfindel cracked his unswollen eye open.
“I´m alright, Elrond. Look after Galadriel.”
The healer nodded. “She´s already being cared for.”
As soon as the bonds came loose, Glorfindel sagged down. Elrond caught the fair-haired elf and carefully placed him on the ground.
Through carefully probing fingers, he inspected the already heavy bruised left side. The healer wrinkled his brow when the warrior flinched violently.
His primary focus, however, was the still bleeding head-wound. Glorfindel appeared much too absent and disorientated coming from a few bruised and maybe cracked ribs.
Elrond assumed a severe concussion even if he could only speculate how the elf had acquired these injuries.
Elrond looked over his shoulder and saw his sons quietly working on Galadriel. The total stillness of the lady´s body worried him.
When he felt a light tap on his shoulder; he looked up into the face of Orophin, Lord Celeborn youngest son.
“The camp is ready, my lord. We can transfer them.”
Elrond nodded his thanks, and Orophin turned. He was about to help the warrior to his feet when Glorfindel choked and instantly retched violently.
When the heaves had ceased the healer placed a restraining hand on the warrior´s shoulder. Glorfindel nonetheless struggled to rise.
“Elrond, I can walk.”
“No, you cannot. Walking around with a head injury is not a wise action.”
Expecting a protest Elrond´s concern only deepened when the warrior accepted his reprimand without complaint.
“Bring over a litter please,” Elrond advised an already retreating Orophin.
Glorfindel had again closed his eyes, and Elrond helped him to lie down. Soon Orophin and his older brother Rúmil came running into the clearing a litter between them.
Carefully they placed the warrior on the litter and covered him with a light blanket. Elrond inclined his head in thanks. “I will be along shortly.”
The brothers nodded, lifted the litter carefully and marched toward the camp just over the small hill.
Elrond was joining his sons and knelt down next to the Lady of Light.
Elladan had already removed the lady´s dirty shirt and was probing around the snapped arrow shaft. It was broken just above the skin, and it had to be cut out.
“This will not be easy. Too near the lung for my liking.”
Elrond nodded. The arrow had to come out nonetheless. The ragged breathing of his mother-in-law indicated an injured lung.
Elrond looked up at a sigh from Elrohir. The younger twin was carefully cleansing the deep gash on the skull with a wet cloth.
“Pretty deep. It needs stitching,” he said when he felt his father´s eyes on him.
Elrond blew out his breath.
“Bring her over to the camp. We will treat her there.”
Looking around he added. “I dare not to stay any longer.”
Elladan looked at his father.
“In an equal bad shape but at least accessible.”
Elladan and Elrohir nodded and carefully placed their grandmother on the nearby litter. After covering her with a light blanket, they lifted it up and marched over the little hill toward the camp behind. Elrond gathered the supplies and followed quickly.
Haldir and a few warriors had meanwhile established a functioning camp. Tents had been erected, a water source was nearby, and fire-wood was neatly stacked next to a low burning fire.
Elrond nodded in approval. This would work, he had enough concern with his patients. His colleague from Lothlórien, Calan had remained with Celeborn.
His sons had just placed Galadriel next to Glorfindel in a tent where they could treat them even if the weather turned bad. Elrond could at least see four and sense two further guards in the trees if any orcs would be foolish enough to attack them.
“The perimeter is guarded, my lord,” Haldir reported while stepping next to the healer.
Elrond inclined his head in thanks and looked around troubled.
“I will make our stay as brief as possible, yet Galadriel and Glorfindel need some rest before we can safely move them.”
Haldir thinned his lips. Elrond sensed the conflicting emotions of the younger elf.
“Your mother is gravely wounded, but she´s strong. I´m confident that she will recover.” Elrond refrained from squeezing the young elf´s shoulder knowing how reserved Haldir was.
The March Warden did not answer.
“I wonder how Lord Celeborn is faring now that moth…. the Lady of Light has driven away the evil from Dol Guldur.”
Elrond raised an eyebrow. The fair-haired elf never did refer in public to Galadriel and Celeborn as his parents.
He tried a more personal approach.
“I awoke from this nightmare when the evil influence was cut. I needed much convincing to accept that all was only from my imagination. Your father will also recover as soon as he accepts the truth.”
Haldir nodded curtly, and although he left in a rush, Elrond perceived a great relief coming from the warrior.
When he heard his oldest son arguing with an awake Glorfindel, he quickly strode into the tent.
“Elladan, really I´m alright,” Glorfindel said already struggling to shake the restraining hand of the young peredhel off.
“Glorfindel, you have a severe concussion and a few cracked ribs. Please lie down. You need to rest.”
Hearing the strained undertone in the healer´s voice, Glorfindel relented and sat back on the pallet. Even if sitting and doing nothing was not his concept he accepted the healer´s advice knowing that is was more than sound.
When Elrond was satisfied that the warrior was again resting and seeing the fresh bandage around his middle, he nodded curtly to his son in thanks.
He strode instantly toward the other pallet where Elrohir was working on Galadriel. He had already prepared all for the surgery.
Elrohir had cleaned the arrow wound and made small incisions around the shaft.
Elrond quickly washed his hands and knelt down. He took the offered scalpel. Before setting the first cut, he looked up.
“I have prepared some poppy juice, in case she wakes,” Elrohir said knowing why his father was hesitating. Elrond smiled and instantly concentrated on his task.
He enlarged the cuts to give the arrow shaft room to move and finally grabbed the shaft with his fingers. With a determined tug, he pulled the shaft out. It gave a smacking noise, and finally, the projectile including the tip came out.
Galadriel jerked violently and took a deep breath while Elrohir staunched the blood flow by pressing a thick wad on the hole.
Elrond waited a few moments; the chance of a collapsing lung was great. When the ragged breathing had slowed, he listened carefully with his ear over her chest. After one more moment, he nodded satisfied.
“Please cover the wound and bind it and make her comfortable. The next few hours will be critical.”
Elrohir nodded and took a deep breath. He once had to cut an arrow from his sister´s body, and he was never eager to repeat this experience. But, his grandmother seemed content enough for his reassurance.
Elrond squeezed his son´s shoulder perceiving the younger elf´s emotions.
“I will look after Glorfindel; he´s much too quiet for my liking.”
Elrond sat next to the pallet Glorfindel was resting on. The warrior had his eyes closed, but Elrond knew he was not sleeping. He felt for a pulse and checked the temperature.
“How´s Galadriel doing?”
“The arrow is out, and there seems to be no critical damage to the lung. Nonetheless, we will have to watch her closely. The cut on her skull is pretty deep and will also need time to heal. She will need a considerable time to recover.”
“Knowing Galadriel, she will need much convincing,” Glorfindel retorted finally opening his eyes. The swelling of the left eye had reached its peak, and the coloring was turning a deep purple.
“Says the expert,” Elrond said with a smile while lightly squeezing the warrior´s shoulder.
Glorfindel only raised an indignant eyebrow.
“What happened at the hill, Glorfindel?”
When the warrior did not answer Elrond was about to rise and let the warrior rest, yet suddenly he began to speak.
“It was not Sauron himself, as we feared, but some mighty servant. Galadriel had much trouble driving it away, but the ring´s power finally succeeded…”
When the warrior stopped, Elrond looked up concerned.
“What is it, Glorfindel?”
“I´m not even sure if she used the ring at all. Elrond, I have never seen such power demonstrated before.”
Elrond only nodded. He had assumed as much. Galadriel was one of the mightiest elves in Middle-earth. She barely used her power and much less the power of her ring. However, if it was necessary, she did it without much restraint. To protect her territory and her family was her main priority. There was not much that could withstand these forces combined, yet she and Glorfindel had barely escaped this mission.
“I´m glad Dol Guldur is freed of whatever resided there. Hopefully, we will have some respite before the next evil takes up residence here.”
Glorfindel recognized the words not spoken.
“We survived Elrond and Galadriel will recover. That´s all that matters.”
The healer nodded.
“I have to be content with that. Now rest, tomorrow we will leave toward Caras Galadhon.”
“As you command, my lord….”
When the healer raised an eyebrow, Glorfindel caught his sleeve.
“Elrond! Thank you for coming after us. Without your timely arrival, we would be dead.”
The healer swallowed. It was still vivid to him how close they had come to lose both elves.
“You are welcome and now rest.”
Without another retort, the warrior sank into his bed and closed his eyes. Elrond left quietly.
To be continued…
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