Disclaimer: Any recognizable characters and places associated with the Lord of the Rings are creations of J.R.R. Tolkien and property of Tolkien Enterprises. No money is being made off of this story, it is for entertainment only. I do however, own the characters of Celavial, Sîrwen, Aranel, Haldan and some Breelanders.
Rating: Pg 13 mostly, R in some places for violence, death, and major angst
Genre: Hurt/Comfort : Angst : Action/Adventure
Characters: Elladan/Elrohir/Gilraen/OC. Later on Elrond/Arwen
Synopsis: Following the death of Arathorn, Master Elrond decides to bring the little Aragorn to Rivendell for his own protection and sends a group to accomplish this task. But there is always a cost to be paid when great deeds are to be done. Our adventurers come to find their journey will not be as easy as they had hoped. Along the way the long years of Elladan's life begin to weigh on his soul and he must find the will within himself to carry on or risk fading away.
Dedications: Thank you to Hobbit-eyes for the idea behind this story! It was a most superb suggestion and I had to act on it. So Hobbit-eyes...this story is dedicated to you.
Note: - This entire story has been edited, which may have changed the content slightly for returning readers. If you are new to this story, then welcome! This story is very lengthy.
This particular story is also very drama/angst filled as it progresses, so grab the tissues. Lots of tissues.
Warnings: Character deaths, violence, adult situations, and the big one - major angst.
All That is Gold
Chapter 1: The Third Arrow
I shall not die of a cold. I shall die of having lived.
- Willa Cather
Spring of the Year 2933 of the Third Age
Thud. The arrow took the orc in the throat and it fell to the ground with a muffled gurgle.
"Not bad for an old man," teased the dark-haired elf.
"Old man indeed," replied the lone human.
The human huffed at the elf, slung the bow over his shoulder, and slipped off his horse leaving the still smiling mounted elf behind. The human carefully walked over to another dark-haired elf while scanning the ground. The signs were clear to him, but habit made him ask.
"Mani naa ta, Elladan?"
Elladan, who was kneeling down, looked up in response to the human's question and a smile spread across his face.
"Why do you still ask, ianter?"
Old one? The human rolled his eyes and sighed. Why did they always have to get into these moods when he was traveling with them?
Elladan noticed the frown on his friend's face as he stood.
"I apologize Arathorn, if I have offended you, for you are still young for one of your descent."
Arathorn was a bit shocked. It was rare indeed for either son of Elrond to relent that easily.
"No, my friend, you have not. But him," he said with a twinkle in his eyes and a slight nod towards the mounted Elrohir, "on the other hand."
Elladan's eyes lit up as he caught on. He shook his head sadly.
"I know what you mean. He has been that way for years, ever since the oliphant incident...I shall gladly help you redress your grievances."
"I heard that," the afore mention elf called dryly.
The two shared a devious smile until Arathorn turned series.
"These tracks suggest the orc was not alone. What could such a horde be up to?"
Arathorn saw Elladan's eyes smolder at the question.
"Nothing good I can assure you. Whatever it is I suggest we inspect it a little closer."
"Very well, my friend."
The three companions followed the orc tracks and occasionally dismounted to make sure of the trail.
The three stopped and Arathorn, being his turn, dismounted to inspect the tracks. He bent down for a closer look and frowned. Two groups of orcs had split off from the main band. He rose and walked back to his horse. The sons of Elrond could easily see the signs off worry on the ranger's face.
"What is wrong?" asked Elrohir.
"Two smaller groups have split from the main one and have headed off in opposite directions."
"I do not like the signs of that."
Elrohir looked at his brother and raised an eyebrow.
"A trap do you think?"
"Mayhap, but how would they know we are behind them?" answered the other elf.
"Elladan is right. It is unlikely that they would know we are here. I suggest we continue to follow the main group," the ranger suggested.
Elrohir still looked skeptical.
"I am not so sure, Arathorn, but if you wish to continue on I will, of course, come with you."
Elladan, Elrohir, and Arathorn continued to follow the main group. They came up to a narrow trail with a short drop off on one side and a rock outcropping on the other. All three halted as a sense of uneasiness swept through them.
"The tracks continue across hear and they look fairly recent. They could not be far ahead of us now," the ranger said not realizing he was almost whispering.
"I do not like the looks of this place at all," whispered Elrohir.
"Me neither. Arathorn, Elrohir I think it is time to turn around," Elladan put in.
"I do not believe it. Even for the most obvious mishaps, I have never seen either of you turn around, but I have full faith in the both of you. If the sons of Elrond feel a foreboding, it is good enough for me."
Elladan was not paying any attention to Arathorn. He was staring intently behind them.
"I believe it is too late for that."
At his brother's word Elrohir turned his head and listened in the direction Elladan was staring.
"I believe you are right brother."
Arathorn could not yet hear anything, but he trusted in his elven companions' senses enough to know that something or more precisely many somethings were approaching.
"How many?" he asked quickly.
Elladan turned to him and smiled roguishly.
"You probably don't want to know. Across the pass!"
Elrohir, in the front, seemed to agree with taking the risk and wheeled his horse around. He rode carefully over the loose rocks with Arathorn behind him and Elladan in the rear.
Elrohir was just about to reach the end when he first heard the first crack. With no room to turn around he pushed his horse to clear the ledge and turned just as the rocks began to fall. Elrohir reached for Arathorn who was right behind him. He managed to grab hold of the human's hand and held tight. Having a hold of the ranger he glanced up and watched in horror as Elladan and his horse, seemingly in slow motion, were swept over the side and disappeared. Reassuring himself that everything would be all right somehow, Elrohir focused on the task at hand. Arathorn's horse was loosing its footing. A large boulder crashed down heading for Arathorn and Elrohir pulled on the ranger's arm with all of his strength. He uprooted the ranger, but his horse was the quicker. The horse saw the danger coming and reared high in the air to give the rock room to pass without grazing it's rider. The sudden movement ripped Arathorn's hand out of the elf's grasp and Elrohir was thrown backwards to go skidding in the dirt while the uprooted Arathorn was carried over the side.
Elladan felt a sharp pain in his side as he was struck by a rock and knocked from his horse. Knowing his horse was probably right behind him Elladan tried to roll clear of the animal as he fell and, somewhere in the back of his mind, it registered that at least he wasn't crushed yet. More rocks assaulted him, though, as he tumbled to the ground below to land hard stunned amongst the pile. Elladan groaned as he hit the ground and instinctively brought his arms up to cover his head as dirt, pebbles, and rocks fell around and on top of him. It took Elladan's mind a moment to realize that he wasn't cart wheeling downward anymore and he took a deep breath, which only sent him into a coughing fit as he inhaled dust.
Arathorn desperately tried to grip Elrohir's hand back. He was taken off guard when his hand was suddenly ripped away and he found himself without a horse underneath him. He bounced and rolled down over the ledge and down to the ground below. One battered ranger shook his head to clear it and shakily pushed himself onto his knees. He looked up to where he had just been a second ago and said a silent thanks to the Valar that he was caught just at the fringes of the rock slide and not fully in it. He also told himself to thank Elrohir later for keeping him from being swept away with the worst of it, although, it would seem his poor horse wasn't as lucky. The poor beast lay broken and battered a few feet from him, half buried under debris. His heart was grieved for the lose of such a noble beast and he silently thanked the animal for it's loyal companionship.
Arathorn sucked in a breath as a fact struck him… Elladan had been behind him. He frantically scanned the area with his eyes. His eyes spotted movement and he heard a slight groan followed by violent coughing. Arathorn scrambled over the rocks, not caring that they dug deep into his hands or knees, and came to a halt next to Elladan who was unsteadily getting to his feet. He helped the ashen, dusty elf up and supported him with a supportive arm around his waits. Arathorn tried to scan the elf for injuries.
"Elladan, are you alright?"
Although Elladan couldn't stop coughing long enough to answer him, Arathorn was somewhat relieved when the elf did give him a look that plainly said are you daft? He smiled inwardly, couldn't be too bad then.
Their attention was diverted when they both looked up to see Elrohir half running and half sliding down the side of the bank towards them and waving his arms frantically in the air. Above Elladan's hacking they could hear him yelling for them to stop gawking at him and move, because they were here. The whom part was answered as an orc burst clear of the trees to come running toward the stunned elf and ranger.
Arathorn drew his sword to defend his still recovering friend, but the creature lurched backwards as an arrow slammed into it's chest. Elrohir leapt the remaining distance and landed lightly next to the ranger and his brother.
"As I was saying, we are about to be beset. Fly!"
Elrohir supported his brother while casting him a concerned look and Arathorn took the lead. Arathorn could now here the sounds of the orcs coming towards them and the three headed back the way Elrohir came.
"Elrohir, you can let go," Elladan rasped out through a dusty and dry throat.
Elrohir smirked at his brother, but did not relinquish his hold.
One of the orcs appeared in front of them. He seemed more surprised to be this close to his prey than they did. He brought a bow up to fire at the three. Arathorn, never giving it a chance to fire, sprung at the creature and split its bow in half with a mighty swing of his sword. After the bow splintered in the orc's grasp the ranger reversed his swing and sliced through the orc's throat. He turned to face the twins behind him.
"Great, they have archers," he stated grimly.
"We have to get out of here before we get are encompassed," Elladan said meekly.
Elrohir nodded in agreement and gave a shrill whistle. Elladan looked to his brother.
"Your horse cannot carry us all, brother."
Elrohir nodded again and Elladan noticed the look he and Arathorn exchanged.
"Oh, no, I am not leaving the two of you here alone. Are you insane?"
Arathorn put a comforting hand on Elladan's shoulder.
"We may very well be mad, my friend, but you are injured and in pain. We can flee from here where you cannot. Go."
Elladan was about to express every type of argument that he could think, logical or not, and in every language he knew, when he was interrupted by the sounds of orcs to the right. Three orcs attacked and released a volley of arrows. Elrohir reflexively dodged trying to pull the other two with him. He managed to loosely grab Elladan and tugged him halfway out of the way before he hit the ground.
Elladan, slowed from injury, couldn't react as fast. Elrohir saved him from being shot dead center in the chest, as the arrow narrowly missed him and ricocheted off of a tree. One of the arrows didn't miss, though, and thunked into Elladan's right shoulder. Pain seared through his side and down his arm making his vision sway briefly. Gritting his teeth through the pain Elladan made himself try to rise. With orcs close by there was no time to lie on the ground. Elrohir and Elladan recovered and rose to face the orcs.
The orcs had the advantage and they knew it. Matching malicious smiles broke out on the three faces as they raised their bows to fire again.
Those smiles turned to looks of dread as a piercing whine sounded behind them. Before they could turn around to face whatever terror was behind them, Elrohir's horse Aethaenyn plowed through the middle of the three. One went sprawling into the ground face first and Aethaenyn trampled another. Elrohir used the diversion to act and in the blink of an eye pulled his own bow and shot the orc still standing. The orc that had been pushed out of the way by the horse started to rise, Elrohir quickly ran over to it and finished it off. When he was done he felt a playful nudge in his side and turned to see Aethaenyn's head right next to his.
"Hantale, mellon nin," he whispered as he stroked the horses neck.
After Elrohir felled the first orc Elladan was confident his brother would get the other one as well. He smiled slightly as he realized his slowing reflexes weren't going to be of much help to Elrohir right now anyway. Soon, to be even slower he knew, for the wound didn't really hurt, it burned, and Elladan was knowledgeable enough in healing to know what that meant. He was poisoned. Ignoring that fact for now, Elladan was wondering where their witless ranger had disappeared to. He stopped mid tirade and froze in place as soon as he turned around.
"Ed' i' ear ar' elenea!" he cried as he dashed over and knelt down.
Elrohir heard his brother's anguished cry and rushed over.
Elladan was kneeling over a prone figure and Elrohir's heart skipped a beat. As he came up beside his brother Elrohir saw what had made Elladan cry out and he dropped to his knees also. There had been three orcs. Three arrows fired. Why did he not stop and think about where the third arrow had gone? The third arrow was plainly visible now. The third arrow was piercing the eye of an honorable human, a fine man, and a dear friend.
Elrohir shut his eyes in grief. How could this have happened? It was too sudden. Too unexpected. Anger and grief burned inside of him. Those orcs did not deserve the quick death he had rendered them.
Elladan wanted to block the image out, but he could not force his eyes to look away. Logically he knew the arrow had probably pierced beyond the ranger's eye and there was no hope of him surviving it. He knew that, but for some reason he could not stop himself from reaching out to make sure. He checked the human's pulse and found... nothing. He knew there wasn't going to be one. Elladan placed that hand upon his friend's chest and bowed his head. He knew he should be far more upset than he was, but his mind couldn't absorb the grief at the moment. The rational part of his brain, that told him the poison was spreading now, also told him there would be no pulse… but didn't that mean he should be sorrowful? Odd. Why wasn't he? Maybe it was just because he was so tired. So very tired…
Elrohir's sharp hearing picked up the sounds of more orcs closing in. The sounds were coming from all sides now. Just their luck, he sighed. He was going to suggest they get moving and looked up just in time to grab hold of Elladan as he nearly swooned foreword. He gripped Elladan's shoulders, mindful of the arrow still embedded in there, and held him upright. The arrow you fool, he scolded himself. Despite the sounds around them Elrohir did a quick look over. Besides the obvious arrow it was difficult to tell without further examination if there were any internal injuries from the rockslide. He could see that his brother was pallid and although he was sitting with support it didn't look like he was going to be able stay awake much longer. Elrohir could feel the heat radiating off his brother and that meant one thing. He was poisoned. Elrohir didn't know what the poison was, but it must be potent to work so quickly on an elf. He needed to get him home and fast. For the first time, Elrohir was never so glad to be near the Misty Mountains. All he need do is cross them and he would be home. Father was not going to be pleased, but right now he didn't care as long as he made it in time.
The orcs were getting closer, so he wouldn't have time to tend to the wound until they put some distance between them and here.
"Aethaenyn, tula sinome," he called to the horse.
"Elladan," he said firmly as he gently shook his brother.
He was relieved when Elladan looked at him, with only slightly unfocused, eyes.
"Come on, my brother, we are going home."
"But...we cannot... leave... Arathorn."
Elrohir noticed his brother's speech beginning to slur and had to take a deep breath to calm himself. Elrohir removed a ring from his fallen friend's hand. He knew someone that would want that.
He looked at his brother with regret in his eyes, but never stopped his motion. He swung Elladan's uninjured arm around his shoulder, grabbed him around the waist, and stood up. He tightened his grip when he felt Elladan almost crumple back down.
"I am sorry Elladan. I do not wish to leave him, but I can no longer save him. I can help you, though."
With some difficulty Elrohir placed Elladan on his horse and sprung up behind him to keep him from toppling off. The dark haired elf looked at the body of his fallen friend with longing.
"Forgive me for leaving you. I shall treasure your memory and friendship until the end of Arda, my dear friend. May we meet again, namaarie."
With one last look Elrohir spurred the horse off with all haste.
Elrohir stopped a short time later as the sun was rising to tend to his brother. He removed the arrow and as much of the poison as possibly and cleaned the wound. Too much poison had already been absorbed and he was unable to drain much. He just hoped it would buy enough time to reach Imladris. Elladan, for his part, was still conscious. Elrohir contributed it to pure stubbornness. After Elrohir did all he was able, they continued on.
Shortly after their brief pause Elladan went completely slack in Elrohir's arms and he reined the horse to a stop as fear tightened his heart. He held his breath as he felt for a pulse and released it when he felt one. He clutched his brother tighter, closed his eyes, and took a deep, steadying breath. He felt his hope dying as his brother slipped away from him.
"We nearly lost our mother in these mountains and now we have lost a good friend near here. I will not lose you here as well," he stated determinedly.
"I am sorry Aethaenyn, but there is not much time left. I must ask for more, my friend."
The elven horse pawed at the ground determinedly and Elrohir managed a smile. Aethaenyn took off at a strong pace and refused to let himself slow down.
The world had been going by in a steady blur, for Elrohir couldn't tell how long. He wasn't really paying attention where he was going. He just let instinct and his horse guide him through the mountain trails. Elrohir snapped out of his reverie when he realized he was coming down the trail out of the mountains entering Imladris. As he drew closer to the house his hope began to renew.
"Ada! Ada! Tua! Ada!"
When the Lord of Rivendell walked out the rear door to enjoy the fine day the last thing he expected to see was a horse barreling toward The Last Homely House and to hear Elrohir calling out like a mad man. Still, expect it or not, the situation wasn't surprising. Homecomings like this were not rare when his sons were traveling and especially together.
Master Elrond tried to wait for Elrohir to ride to up to the door with some semblance of calm. When the horse got close enough to distinguish that someone was slumped in the front of Elrohir, the calm visage became increasing hard to hold. Since Elrohir was doing all of the hollering, Elladan must be in need of care and immediately.
"Sweet Eru, what have they gotten into now?"
Elrond glanced behind him as someone approached. Celaviel bowed her head as she came up behind her lord and friend.
"It would appear your children are home, my lord. Shall I prepare one of the young lord's chamber with the appropriate healing herbs and supplies?"
Elrond smiled warmly at the elf maid.
"Yes, Celaviel, I think we are going to need it."
Celaviel gave a quick nod and disappeared through the door with a swish of her skirt. Elrohir rode right up to the porch and Elrond ran down to meet him as he commanded the horse to a stop. When Elrond laid eyes on Elladan it took a good bit of effort to remain composed. His oldest son by minutes looked like he already had one foot at Mandos. Elrohir lowered his brother down and Elrond grabbed his son. He turned back for the house carrying Elladan with Elrohir on his heels.
"What happened Elrohir?" Elrond asked with a calm in his voice that he didn't feel on the inside.
"He was poisoned, shot, I mean poisoned from being shot. It was an orc arrow. He almost collapsed minutes after being hit and he has been unconscious for hours now."
Elrond carried Elladan into his room and laid him down on the bed. No sooner had Elrond laid his son down than Celaviel and another entered. He leaned over, placed his hand on Elladan's forehead, and briefly closed his eyes. He turned around to see three sets of worried eyes staring back at him.
"The poison has spread far, but you made it back in time, Elrohir."
Three sighs of relief followed the statement and Elrond smiled inwardly to himself. He looked into Elrohir's eyes and noticed something else besides worry in them. Something akin to the look they held for sometime after Celebrian had left. Shock and grief. Elrohir looked as if he had been; no still was he corrected himself, in emotional turmoil.
"Elrohir go get cleaned up and eat something."
Elrohir's eyes went wide.
"Elrohir that is not a request. You may return after."
Elrohir sighed too tired to argue, nodded his head, and left the room.
After Elrohir had existed Celaviel lifted her eyebrow questionably at Elrond.
Elrond gave no explanation for his action and simply returned his attention back to his other son.
Although Elrohir hardly felt like eating anything, he had to admit, he felt a little better after following his father's orders. He approached Elladan's door and hesitated. He did not hear any sounds coming from behind the door so he knocked quietly.
"Come in my son."
Elrohir entered the room and closed the door. The curtains were closed and the room was fairly dark. Elrond was setting on the edge of the bed close enough to be able to reach Elladan's face as he checked his temperature. Elrohir came up behind his father where he could see Elladan. His brother still looked deathly pale and his eyes were closed, but he seemed stronger now.
Elrond turned to face his other son.
"Sit, Elrohir. It is all right, my son, Elladan will not wake for some time."
Elrohir smiled inwardly. He was fully aware how he knew his brother wouldn't wake for a while. He had been given the same herb many times himself.
"What has befallen, Elrohir?"
"I guess I pushed it to the back of my mind. I was so preoccupied with trying to get Elladan back here in time..."
Elrond was concerned when he noticed Elrohir was holding back tears. Neither of his sons were usually ones to cry over matters. Elrond didn't need the gift of foresight to know he was going to dread hearing this.
Elrohir reached into his pocket and pulled out something. He placed the object in his father's hand, then put his own hand over it, before Elrond could tell what it was.
"Elladan and I, we...we were traveling with Arathorn adar. When Elladan was shot with an orc arrow, so was Arathorn, only..."
Elrohir had to stop and take a breath. Elrond put his free hand on his son's shoulder in silent support.
Elrohir looked at Elrond with such sorrow it made Elrond's heart ache. Elrohir gently slid his hand away from Elrond's revealing the object to his father.
"Elladan was shot in the shoulder, but Arathorn was pierced in the eye. Isildur's heir is dead."
Elrond looked down at what his son had given him. He held the ring of Barahir. Elrond closed his eyes and folded his hand around the ring. Arathorn had been a friend. Now he understood what was making his son so distraught.
Arathorn, Chieftain of the Dúnedain, had fallen.
Sorry no wee Aragorn in this chapter, but he is coming up in the next one! I had to do the sad business of killing off his father in this one. Just when I was starting to like him to.
Reviews aren't necessary, but are always appreciated.