I use a bit of Elvish in this one; translations are set just after in [text]. The dictionary I used for the translations was downloaded here
Uial means 'twilight' and he is Elrond's horse. Umm, you all know what 'Ada' means I hope. Also, I must point out that nín means my. The often seen nîn, however, means wet or tear. The possessive (my, his, hers, etc) is supposed to go at the end of the word, although the hyphen I used is optional. I just think it looks better like that. Also, it is 'Ada', not Ata.
All that wind and Uial's reaction is Vilya going nuts. The rest should be alright.
Yeah, I know about the title. Never seen/read the movie/book. But I couldn't think of anything better.
For Whom the Bell Tolls
Soft white pillows of clouds drifted lazily across the sun, casting shadows upon the meadow below. The day was beautiful, the summer mild at the moment and no hostile weather upon the horizon. In the long grass and wild flowers of the glade were several Elves and horses. A soft breeze blew across the field, tugging at the group's clothing and hair pleasantly. The horses grazed around the meadow, pulling up lush green shoots from the ground contentedly.
Two Elves, identical excepted that one wore green and the other wore blue, lay half-hidden in the grass. The twin sons of Elrond talked quietly together, idly twisting blades of grass into a small rope as they past the time peacefully. Standing not too far from them were two other Elves, also brothers but not identical. They wore the Rivendell livery of the guards and carried both sword and bow. Their blue eyes were ever scanning the area, weary of the task of protection set before them. Two she-Elves were making their way through the meadow also, pulling plants and roots from the ground and placing them in the baskets they carried. Healers from the House of Elrond, the she-Elves were keen eyed for the herbs and tools of their profession. A blond haired Elf, also with sword and bow at his side, sat astride a white horse, his easy manner masking the fact that he was also alert for danger.
"Please do not eat that, Uial." Glorfindel turned his head a little to the side as he sat upon Asfaloth, his height giving him an advantage. The last two members of their party sat among the tall grass near by. Elrond Peredhil, forgoing his formal robes for tunic, breeches, and a light summer cloak, looked at the black horse standing by him with reproach. The dark stallion swished his tail, his mouth mere inches from a pile of plants laid upon a leather pouch. Liquid eyes pleaded with his master, the horse's raven colored coat shimmering in the sunlight, earning him the name of 'twilight'. Elrond shook his head, his dark hair bound back by a simple cord at his neck. "I do not care how sweet they taste, Uial, they will make you sick if you eat them." The horse dropped his head in defeat, moving away to munch on other greens. Elrond put the plant bundle inside the pouch as the boy next to him laughed. The half-Elf gave Aragorn a smile. "Honestly, that horse has no self-control."
The Elf lord reached out and plucked a white flower from the grass, bringing the bloom around to show Aragorn. "Do you know what this is?" asked Elrond.
The human boy leaned forward and sniffed at the pleasant smell of the flower, frowning a little. "A weed, Kingsfoil." answered Aragorn.
Elrond nodded. "Correct." he said. "We call it athelas and use it for many things."
Aragorn frown deepened, confused. "But, it's a weed. It's useless."
Elrond's hand disappeared into his cloak and he pulled out a small dagger. "Something is only useless until someone endeavors to find a use for it." he said, using the blade to split the stem of the plant. He then cut a small piece from it and handed it to Aragorn. "Put it on your tongue, swallow the juice but not the plant." Elrond instructed.
Aragorn did as he was told and grinned as he tasted the plant juice; the sweet flavor was like eating pure sugar. "It's delicious!" he exclaimed.
Elrond put a piece in his own mouth, smiling with the boy. "It is also useful for soothing cuts and burns as well as keeping infection away and absorbing many poisons. Burning athelas will also help relax the body and mind." he said. Elrond looked up as one of the she-Elves approached him.
Meneréial pulled the scarf from her head, shaking out her hair. "We have finished, my lord." she informed him.
Elrond nodded at the other healer, standing himself. "We have all that we acquire?" he asked.
Meneréial glanced behind her where the other she-Elf and the two guards were attaching what they had gathered to one of the extra horses. "Aye, my lord. This meadow was most bountiful." she answered. Elrond cut her a piece of the athelas plant and handed it to her with a smile. "Hennad." [Thank You] said Meneréial, popping the stem into her mouth and smiling as it refreshed her.
Elrond let out a low whistle and Uial picked up his head and walked over to him. "Well then, we best be returning to the house." He bent and picked up Aragorn, setting him on the horse. "It will be lunch time soon." Meneréial turned away as Elrond mounted behind the boy, Aragorn being too small to control a horse on his own. Off in the distance, the group was able to hear the bell at the house ring twelve times, marking the time to be Noon.
Glorfindel trotted up next to him on Asfaloth. "We return to the house then?" he asked.
Elrond nodded, pulling on his gloves and picking up Uial's reins. "We're done for the day." he said. Elrond glanced over his shoulder to find the others also mounted on their horses, the two guards in the back.
Elladan grinned at his father, swinging the small grass rope in one hand. "It was a pleasant enough morning." the twin said.
"I'm so glad you enjoyed it." said Elrond with mirth. He urged Uial forward and the group started through the line of trees and along the path.
"Don't be a bother, Elladan." chided Elrohir.
"A bother, brother? I don't know what you mean!" exclaimed Elladan. The two she-Elf healers behind them rolled their eyes at each other. It could be a long ride back to the house if the twins started arguing.
"Enough you two." called Glorfindel, stopping an argument from starting. "I will not be listening to your bickering all the way home."
"We do not bicker." said the twins at the same time. It would be a rather odd thing if not everyone in Rivendell were used to it.
Aragorn snorted in front of Elrond, folding his arms across his small chest. "You bicker like you were married." he retorted.
Elrohir scrunched up his face. "I'm afraid I'm going to have to get you for that one, Aragorn."
This time Elladan snorted. "Oh please, you can't even catch him. I saw you two running about the gardens yesterday and you couldn't even get your hands on Aragorn." said the twin.
Elrond chuckled and Uial started high stepping, picking up his feet and bouncing his riders. "Yes, Uial, very nice. Now stop before I become ill." said the Elf lord. The black horse tossed his head but evened his gait.
"See, even Ada's horse agrees with me." said Elladan smugly.
Elrohir opened his mouth to reply when the wind suddenly changed, blowing through the group and shaking the trees around them. The horses snorted and pranced as they came to a stop, all of the Elves looking around them in surprise. "What was that?" asked one of the guards.
Elrond tightened his grip on Uial's reigns as the horse snorted and began to paw the ground. "I do not know." answered the Elf lord. Aragorn fisted Elrond's sleeve, not liking how nervous the other Elves seemed.
Glorfindel freed his sword and the twins and the guards followed suit. The blond Elf was scanning the forest around them cautiously. "We should move." ordered Glorfindel after a moment.
The wind whirled through the group again and Uial screamed and half reared before leaping forward. Elrond cried out and grabbed a fist full of the horse's mane least he be thrown from the saddle. The other Elves called out, their own horses drawing back. A whistling sound jerked Glorfindel's head up just as a black arrow struck the tree where Elrond had once been. "Yrch!" [Orc] cried one of the others.
Uial jumped from the path and began to head further into the forest, taking Elrond and Aragorn with him. "My lord!" cried Glorfindel. Another arrow flew toward the Elf lord and a tree lowered its branches to ensnare the weapon. "Elrond!" The half-Elf looked over his shoulder as Uial continued at a gallop into the forest and saw the stricken look on his seneschal's face.
Elrond gritted his teeth and kept his head low as the trees lifted their limps for them and then laced their branches together behind them, trying to slow the heavy footed pursuit he could hear crashing after him. "Elrond!" cried a panicked Aragorn, hanging on for dear life to the seemingly mad horse.
Elrond clung to Uial's mane, one reign flapping loose. "Uial, stop!" he cried, tugged at the horse. The black horse seemed to speed up and Elrond looked over his shoulder, no longer able to see the others but clearly able to see the orcs following him. The roars and cries they made sent a shiver up Elrond's spine and Aragorn began to sob in front him. "Uial!" Elrond leaned forward as far as he dared and looked into his horse's eyes. The liquid pools were not wild with panic but hard with resoluteness, a strange light in them. Elrond knew then that he had no control over Uial any more, the horse was determined to get his riders to safety. The Elf lord let go of the other reign and allowed them to flap free as he wrapped both arms around the child before him and grabbed a hold of Uial's mane. "It will be alright." he muttered into Aragorn's ear.
A loud twang alerted Elrond that the orcs were shooting arrows at him again. One projectile flew close by his head and another was stopped by a tree. Elrond looked over his shoulder again as they flew through the forest, seeing that the orcs following them were lagging behind. The wind in the trees was fierce, showing its displeasure with force. Uial suddenly swerved and Elrond jerked his head around to see an orc jump from the shadows. Automatically, the Elf lord reached for his dagger inside his cloak and slashed the creature with the blade. The beast howled in pain and fell back.
"Elrond! Ahead of us!" screamed Aragorn and Elrond looked up to see what had the child so panicked. A large gap in the land was before them, probably one of the many smaller rivers that flowed into the Bruinen, and Uial was heading right for it.
"Ai Elbereth! Daro si, Uial!" [Oh Elbereth! Stop now, Uial!] cried Elrond in Elvish as the horse sped toward the fissure. Elrond felt the horse bunch his muscles under him and tightened his grip on Aragorn and Uial's mane. The orcs screeched behind them as Uial pushed off of the ledge and leapt into the air, his target the other side of the rift. Elrond's eyes widened as Uial jumped, feeling weightless for a moment as the wind whipped around them and then the jawing impact as Uial landed on the other side. Arrows from the orcs flew after them, hitting the rock and being caught by the trees as Uial raced into the forest, leaving the orcs behind on the other side of the gap.
Glorfindel cried out in frustration as the orcs kept him from following after Elrond and Aragorn. [Please be well. Please be well. Please be well.] he thought. He hissed as he slashed at an orc with his sword, guiding Asfaloth around with ease. He knew that a large amount of the orcs had sped past them in pursuit of Elrond and Aragorn.
The two she-Elves bared their teeth at the orcs around them, their horses kicking and rearing to protect their riders. The two guards moved themselves beside the two healers, swinging their swords at the snarling orcs. "Glorfindel, what about Ada?" cried Elrohir.
"I know!" called the blond. [If anything has happened to him I'll never forgive myself.] As their numbers dwindled, the orcs raced off into the trees after the other group. Glorfindel swung his horse around and kneed Asfaloth into the woods. "Tirn! Take the healers back to the house!" he yelled. The two she-Elves and one of the other guards galloped down the path toward the house as Glorfindel, the twins, and the last guard Tirith set off into the forest.
Just as the trees had moved their limbs to hinder the orcs, so did they move them away to aid the Elves. After a hard gallop into the forest, the group began to catch up with the retreating orcs, cutting them down as they raced past. "Ada?" called one of the twins, hoping to be answered.
The group soon came upon the mass of orcs gathered in front of the gap, snarling at each other as they tried to decide what do to. The appearance of the Elves, however, set the beasts scrambling to get away. "Elrond?" cried Glorfindel, unable to find the Elf lord as he swung at retreating orcs. The blond stood in his saddle, searching the area frantically, and then looked dishearteningly at the gap.
"Do you think they fell in?" asked Elladan softly, edging his horse to look into the water below.
"I hope not." said Elrohir, the hand holding his sword shaking.
Glorfindel narrowed his eyes at the ground near the rift, scanning the edge for any sign that Uial may have fallen. His eyes then fell upon a place where two horse hoofs were pressed into the rock and soil deeply. Tirith, the guard, also noticed the imprints. "Nay, young lords, I believe they jumped the fissure." he said.
"Jumped it?" asked Elladan.
Glorfindel nodded sharply. "They jumped it, Uial's prints are in the soil."
"But, that means that both Ada and Aragorn are out there somewhere." said Elrohir.
"We will find them, young lords. Have no fear of it." said Tirith. He turned toward Glorfindel. "We had best get back to the house and arrange a search party." Glorfindel stared at the rift, wanting to jump it and go after Elrond himself right now. He gritted his teeth and turned Asfaloth away sharply.
A hand fell on his shoulder and the blond looked to his side to see Elrohir with concern in his eyes. "None of us could have known there were orcs in the forest, Glorfindel." said the twin.
Elladan nodded. "Ada is alright and we'll find him, Glorfindel. Don't blame yourself for what you can't control." he said.
Glorfindel jerked away from Elrohir's hand and pressed Asfaloth into a gallop back to the house. [I failed. I failed to protect Elrond and now he and Aragorn are in grave danger. How stupid and lax I was! How could I let this happen? It's all my fault…]
Elrond and Aragorn clung to Uial as the black horse pushed himself that last bit of distance. The horse's coat was covered in lather and the poor animal was panting hard but he refused to stop. Not until he knew his riders would be safe. Elrond felt Uial stumble under him, still racing through the forest. "Uial, please stop!"
Uial broke through a strand of trees and did as his master bide him, too tired to continue. The black horse tremble in the center of the small clearing, a stream bubbling happily a distance away from them. Elrond quickly slid from Uial's back, pulling Aragorn with him. He sat the child on the ground and Aragorn sank to his knees, shaking a little with shock. "It's alright. We're safe here." soothed Elrond. Aragorn gulped but nodded.
Turning toward the horse, Elrond quickly unbuckled the saddle and pushed it from Uial's back. The horse grunted as the weight left him. With soothing touches and whispered encouragement, Elrond guided the exhausted horse over to the water and Uial gratefully plunged his nose into the cool liquid. Elrond pulled out his dagger and cut a piece of cloth from his cape, using it to wipe away the lather from Uial's dark coat.
Elrond pushed a strand of loose hair from his face, the tie lost somewhere in the forest during the wild ride, and knelt next to Uial's legs. He gently touched the trembling limbs, feeling the muscles spasm under his fingers and sent a soft flow of healing energy into the animal. "Easy, Uial. Don't drink so fast or you'll make yourself ill." cautioned Elrond. The half-Elf was pleased when the horse did as he asked, slowing the pace that he took in water. Elrond's energy stopped the painful spasms and he led Uial around the clearing slowly so that the horse could calm his heart and cool down. The Elf lord stroked Uial's cheek fondly. "That was very brave of you, Uial. Please don't ever do it again." he said with mirth as they stopped. Uial puffed air into Elrond's face and nudged him with his nose. The half-Elf pulled at the horse's forelock and then began to finger comb his mane.
Aragorn lifted his head, his own heart calming from the escape. "Where are we?" he asked.
Elrond looked around the clearing and shook his head. "I don't know. I don't recognize the area." He stroked Uial's neck as the horse took another drink. "Do not worry, Aragorn, we will find our way back. Although I don't know where we are, the trees and the rivers will guide us."
Aragorn slumped to the ground. "Yes, the trees will guide us." he muttered.
Elrond knelt and pulled the boy into his lap, stroking his hair to calm the child. "You do not believe us when we say that we can talk with nature, do you?"
Aragorn snorted. "Trees and rivers do not talk." he said decisively. Uial lowered himself to the grass, exhaustion in his body and wanting to rest as his riders talked.
Elrond shook his head. "Everything speaks, Aragorn, if you know how to listen." A gentle wind blew through the clearing, pulling at the Elf lord's long hair playfully.
"Right then, which way is the house in?" asked Aragorn, doubt in his eyes.
Elrond smiled and closed his eyes, focusing on the world around him. The trees and rivers whispered of the past, of the present, and possibly of the future. The green leaves upon the trees muttered of the seasons and of the weather. The stones in the riverbed spoke of never ending change. The grass mumbled of those that had past by, both friend and foe. Suddenly, they all grew quiet as their attention turned toward the half-Elf sitting in the meadow. As one, they all started to speak again. Hello…Greetings…Home is that way…Along the path…Home is this way…And down the vale…Hello…Go there…Go here…
Elrond's smile grew and he opened his eyes to met Aragorn's stare. He lifted a hand and pointed into the forest to their right and slightly behind them. "The house is that way." Aragorn looked in the indicated direction, frowning a little. Elrond stood and placed the child on the ground. Turning toward Uial, he ran his hand along the horse's cheek. "Ready to go, Uial?"
Uial pulled himself to his feet, prancing a little to shake out his legs. Elrond kissed his forehead, much to the horse's delight, and bent to pick up the saddle. Uial stood still as the Elf lord replaced the saddle upon his back. Elrond smoothed down Uial's mane and made sure the saddle wasn't too tight. Nodded in satisfaction, he then placed his hand on Aragorn's shoulder and led the way into the forest, Uial following behind.
Erestor was waiting in the courtyard of Rivendell when the group rode in. The adviser walked forward quickly as Glorfindel leapt from his saddle. "We all noticed the wind a while ago and the healers and Tirn returned a few minutes before you did." Erestor informed him as Glorfindel strode into the house. The elder Elf glanced back at the grim faced twins and a tense Tirith. "Did you find anything?" asked Erestor.
"We think Ada and Aragorn escaped by jumping a water rift." said Elladan. "They're still somewhere out in the forest."
Elrohir lowered his head a little, looking at the floor. "The orcs…they came out of nowhere and Ada is alone now."
A sharp bang caused them to turn in surprise. Glorfindel was roughly pulling open a trunk in the weapons room, slipping a long knife into the holster at his back. Erestor shook his head fiercely, gripping the blond Elf's shoulder to get his attention. "Don't you dare blame yourself for this. There was no way you could have…"
Stormy blue eyes cut off the adviser's words and Erestor stepped back a little in surprise. The pain and worry in Glorfindel's eyes was enough to drown in. "I failed to protect him, Erestor." he hissed.
Erestor shook his head again. "Lord Elrond is fine, Glorfindel."
"We hope so, Erestor." said Elladan, also sheathing another blade.
Erestor smiled and touched the twin's arm. "I know so, Elladan." The younger Elf looked at him in confusion. "Look at the valley, Elladan. The wind is calm and the sky is clear." Erestor glanced out at the tranquil valley through an arch. "As long as I've lived here, this valley has always reflected the emotions and state of its master. Where ever Lord Elrond and Aragorn are, they are safe."
Elrond guided Aragorn through the dappled light of the forest, Uial a black shadow following them. He lifted a leafy branch from their path, allowing both the child and the horse to pass in front of him. A deer lifted its head from grazing and casually watched them walk by, unconcerned with the trio passing through its area. A fox shared the deer's apathy as it rushed past them, hurrying to its business. The Elf lord looked down in surprise at the growl that came from Aragorn. The child looked up sheepishly, rubbing his stomach. Elrond smiled in understanding. "Hungry?" he asked unnecessarily.
Aragorn nodded. "It's already past lunchtime and we have nothing to eat." complained the child dismally.
"Whatever makes you think that?" asked Elrond. The dark haired half-Elf stopped and sniffed the air delicately. He smiled and then gestured for human and horse to follow him as he changed direction. "A detour is in order, I think."
Confused, Aragorn followed Elrond until the half-Elf led him to an apple tree. A raccoon, taking a rare daytime walk, munched on some fallen apples on the ground. It looked up placidly as the Elf lord stepped past it and jumped up into the tree gracefully. Uial gave a small whicker up to his master. Elrond's voice drifted down from the leaves. "Of course I shall get you some, Uial. You've earned a few apples today."
"Did you find this tree by scent alone?" asked Aragorn. He searched the tree for the half-Elf but was unable to see him.
"Yes." One of the limbs of the tree shook and Elrond jumped down, his arms full of apples. "I could smell the blooms." The dark haired half-Elf smiled up at the tree. "Hennadevyr." [Thank you very much]
The child shifted nervously, recognizing the words. "Yeah, thanks." Aragorn wondered if it would be worse to look stupid thanking a tree or for the tree to actually be offended by him not thanking it.
Elrond bent down and gave one of the apples to the raccoon. The masked animal chatted at the half-Elf loudly, taking the red fruit and biting into it. "Creosolle." [Your welcome] replied Elrond. He walked over to a patch of clover and sat with the other apples in his lap. He held up a particularly large apple to Uial, who took the treat with relish. Elrond and Aragorn then took up their own fruit and began to eat.
"How long until we reach the house?" asked Aragorn around a mouth full of apple.
Elrond frowned. "Don't talk with your mouth full." he scolded without thought.
Aragorn swallowed loudly, wiping his face with his hand. "Sorry."
Elrond accepted the apology with a nod. "We should arrive back just before dusk. I don't want to risk riding Uial for a few more hours yet and it will take some time for us to walk." he said. The half-Elf took the apple seeds from his finished meal and held up his hand with the seeds in his palm. To Aragorn's astonishment, two brightly colored birds landed on his upturned hand and plucked the food away with their beaks. A small golden bird then took the rest and Elrond lowered his hand with a smile. Elrond's smile fell a little then. "Of course, Glorfindel and my twins will be looking for us too."
Aragorn brightened and stood. "Maybe we can call out to them so that they will find us!" he exclaimed. "Elves are supposed to have wonderful hearing, right!" Aragorn cupped his hands over his mouth, preparing to shout out when Elrond quickly hushed him.
"No Aragorn!" ordered the half-Elf, pulling on the child's hands. "Our friends may hear us through the forest, that is true. But our enemies will also hear us and we are in no position to defend ourselves. When you are alone, it is a better plan to remain silent."
Aragorn frowned but didn't call out. "I thought you were also supposed to remain in place and not go wondering about." he said.
Elrond smiled and shook a finger in the air with mirth in his eyes. "Ah, but that is when you are lost and we are not lost. Rather, just a distance away from where we want to be." The Elf lord stood and brushed off his clothing. "We should get started again, Aragorn. I do not want to be caught outside when night falls." Aragorn nodded and followed the half-Elf back into the forest, Uial bobbing along behind them.
The sound of many hooves on stone rang in the courtyard as the Rivendell Guard gathered to hear instructions from Glorfindel. By the blond Elf's side were Elladan and Elrohir, also armed and ready to go. Glorfindel gestured the guard into groups, each group given a different part of the valley to search, all starting at the water rift. "Any group that finds Lord Elrond and Aragorn should return immediately to the manor." spoke Glorfindel in his strong voice. "When Lord Elrond and Aragorn have returned to the house, the tower bell with be rung twelve times. The bell will still be ringing the time, so be counting." Because it was already after noon, the bell would not naturally ring twelve times again until the next day. Glorfindel hoped that this would not last into the night. "When that signal is given each group must come back to the house. Tel' Valar na yassen lle." [The Valar be with you.]
Erestor stood on the steps of the house as the group on horse and foot went out of the gate. When silence finally settled it was louder than any noise before it and pounded in his ears. The Elven adviser rubbed at his forehead and started when a small whirlwind blew through the courtyard. He watched the agitated spin of dust and leaves move madly about the yard and then disappear. Erestor rung his hands for a moment and then hurried into the house as the bell chimed three in the afternoon.
Elrond looked up as the bell at the house rang three times, marking the hour. "Three o'clock." said Aragorn as they stopped in front of a dry creek bed. Elrond nodded and eyed the rocky bottom of the bed they would have to cross. A band of wild pigs rooted around in the dirt a distance away from them, oinking softly. The human child watched them nervously but the animals didn't pay the group much attention.
Elrond hopped across the bed quickly, barely touching the rocks, and then turned back on the other bank. He stretched out a hand and gestured toward Aragorn. "Alright, Aragorn. Just follow my path and you should be fine." The half-Elf stayed at the edge to give aid if the child had any problems.
Aragorn was just stepping down into the bed when the wind suddenly whipped around them harshly and a flock of birds burst into the sky in a panic. "Elrond!" cried the child. Uial let out a loud whinny, rearing as a shape leapt at the dark haired half-Elf from the ground cover.
Elrond pivoted on his left heel and delivered a roundhouse kick with his right foot to the orc that flew at him. The beast stumbled back with a grating cry and Elrond gracefully brought his foot up to slam into his chin. The black creature smashed back against a tree and slumped down to the forest floor. The half-Elf turned back and opened his arms to Aragorn. "Quickly!"
Aragorn scrambled across the bed, Elrond reaching out and grabbing him halfway. The wind shook the trees around them and Elrond spun off to the side, clutching Aragorn to his chest. Another orc jumped past them and landed in the dry creek bed. Uial whinnied and struck out at the creature with his hooves. Elrond hissed as the orc's blade barely caught his shoulder and raced off into the forest, hearing Uial thunder after them.
Aragorn wrapped his arms around the half-Elf's neck as they raced through the trees. Uial followed the swift half-Elf until Elrond looked over his shoulder and, seeing no pursuit, stopped. Elrond knelt and let Aragorn down to the floor, hissing as the child brushed against the thin cut on his shoulder. "You're hurt!" cried Aragorn.
The half-Elf angled his head to look at the slight wound, seeing it bleeding sluggishly. Although his own healing powers would not work on himself, Elrond reached out with his senses and carefully probed for poisons. Elrond smiled and lay a comforting hand on Aragorn's shoulder. "I'm well, Aragorn. It will need to be cleaned and bandaged when we reach the house but there are no poisons." he said.
Aragorn sank against the half-Elf's chest, shaking a little. Elrond wrapped his arms around the child and rocked him, knowing that the recent events would remind the child of his father's death. The Elf lord sang quietly, soothing Aragorn but not loud enough to draw unwanted attention. Some birds landed in the tree above them and listened, the tree swaying in delight at the light creature sitting beneath it.
Several minutes later, Aragorn gave one last squeeze to Elrond's neck and lifted his head from the half-Elf's shoulder. The child's eyes were a little dark but no distress showed on his face. Aragorn looked at Elrond with curiosity. "I've never seen someone fight like that. Where did you learn to do that?" he asked.
Although Aragorn had not cried, Elrond ran the back of two fingers down his cheek and smiled. "When you're as old as I am, you learn to improvise." he said. The half-Elf winced and moved one leg out from under himself, shifting to sit on his hip. "Although those kicks were easier wearing armor. I think I bruised my ankle." Elrond said with mirth. He rotated the foot he had used to strike the orc carefully, shaking his head. "No matter." He stood and the slight injury in his right foot only twinged a little. Elrond shrugged down at Aragorn. "Come, we do not want to find out if those two orcs are the only ones around." The small group headed quickly as they could off into the forest.
The Rivendell house bell rung five times as Glorfindel listened; he counted them carefully. He looked to his right where Elladan had also stopped to mark the bells. The twin sighed, meeting Glorfindel's eyes for a moment before dredging up a small smile. "Where does the time go?" he asked, meaning to jest. Glorfindel turned away and urged Asfaloth over the next hill. The dark haired half-Elf looked after him sadly, knowing that his friend's heart was heavy with Elrond's disappearance. However, Elladan knew that things still looked well as the wind had remained calm the whole time they had been out. He would not worry until the wind tore the valley itself apart.
Elrohir rode up next to him and the twins looked at each other. "I don't think I've ever hated that bell as much as I do now." said the younger brother.
Elladan nodded in agreement. "Every hour it marks is another hour we have not found Ada." Suddenly, a peculiar birdcall sounded and the two half-Elves perked up. Turning their mounts, they headed toward the whistle and came upon some of their group.
Glorfindel rode up quickly after that. "What is it?" he demanded.
Tirith looked up from where he knelt on the forest floor. "We believe that we have found Lord Elrond's trail, sir." the guard answered.
Another Rivendell guard stepped forward and stretched out his hand, a piece of cord in his palm. "A tree also gave us this. It says that it dropped from an Elf's hair that had ridden past on a black horse with a child. I believe it is Lord Elrond's."
Glorfindel took the cord, a gleam in his blue eyes, and ran the piece between his fingers. He nodded sharply. "Follow the trail, this is Lord Elrond's." The twins looked at each other and grinned. Glorfindel turned Asfaloth and the group quickly began to track the trail.
The wind's fingers hung at the tips of Elrond's long hair and the Elf lord shook his head with a smile. Aragorn, legs tired and aching, rode atop Uial. Although the horse had said that his master could now ride, as he felt much better, Elrond had answered that he preferred to walk for now. The half-Elf twirled a fallen leaf idly in his hands as he walked, Uial following with Aragorn on his back.
The trio came to a slight problem in a patch of bright sunlight. A large tree had fallen into their path, probably during the last big storm, creating an opening in the canopy. Elrond shielded his eyes and looked both ways, trying to see the ends of the tree. He leaned his hands on the trunk, saddened by the great tree's death. "I guess we'll have to go around." said Aragorn.
"This tree was very old and very big." said Elrond. He jumped gracefully on top and turned back. "We will just go over it." He lifted the child from Uial's back and lowered him to the other side. Elrond then slid down next to him and brushed the bits of bark from his clothing.
Aragorn frowned. "What about Uial?" he asked.
Elrond didn't even look up. "Or, Uial." [Over] On the other side of the tree, Uial backed up and then charged the fallen tree. He leapt up, pushed off the top of the tree, and landed easily on the other side.
Aragorn laughed as Uial pranced in delight, making a clown out of himself. Elrond picked up the giggling child and placed him back on Uial with a smile. Off in the distance, the bell tower chimed 6 o'clock. Elrond petted Uial's nose. "Would you carry me now, Uial? Night will come soon if we do not hurry." he asked. Uial nodded his head and turned to be alongside Elrond. "Hennadevyr." [Thank you very much] the Elf lord said, climbing into the saddle. He took up the reigns and stroked the horse's neck. "Noro lim." [Ride on] Uial whinnied at the predicted command and took off at an easy lope into the forest.
The search group past by the clearing where Elrond and Aragorn had stopped to rest. They debated on whether to take the offshoot of the trail to the apple tree but thought against it as the trail backtracked and continued on. It was at the dry stream bed that the group stopped, seeing signs of a struggle. One orc lay on the rocks unmoving.
Elladan jumped from his horse and approached the creature cautiously, blade at the ready. He looked back up with a smile. "His head is bashed in with a hoof print on his helm. It must have been Uial."
Elrohir smiled as well. "Remind me to give that horse a sack of carrots when we get back." he said.
Another guard looked upon the opposite bank and the flattened grass there. "There was more than one orc. Another was struck against that tree." he said.
"Ada?" called Elladan into the woods. No one answered and the twins sighed. They remounted their horses and jumped the creek.
Glorfindel slid a little sideways in his saddle, looking down at the grass from Asfaloth's back. "The second orc must not have been as injured." he observed. The blond Elf sat up and opened his mouth when the bell began to ring.
Elladan bit his lip. "Surely it can't be 7 o'clock already?" he muttered to his twin. Elrohir hushed him, his lips moving as he counted the bells. When they stopped at seven rings the whole group sighed in disappointment. "I was so hoping…" whispered Elladan softly.
Glorfindel hung his head, Asfaloth prancing under him. The horse's reigns were twisted around his hands, the skin white under his gloves. After a moment, he lifted his head and shook back his hair, a steely glint in his eyes. "Continue the search…" The bell began to ring again and the group looked at each other in confusion. They tensed at seven rings, grinned at each other at eight, and was thundering through the forest back toward the house on nine, Glorfindel quickly outdistancing them. A cheer raised through the forest as the bell rang twelve times.
Uial broke from the trees and Elrond pulled his reigns sharply to the side. The roar of the river deafened their ears as Elrond turned Uial to run along side the Bruinen. Aragorn laughed as water spray from the river splashed up and hit them. Elrond grinned as Uial stretched his legs, running full out now that they were in the open. The human child spread his arms to the side and leaned into the wind. Uial snorted as he raced the river, flying along the bank.
Elrond looked up as they rounded a bend in the river, the house of Rivendell now in sight upon the upper steppe, the water fall by it gleaming in the setting sun. Elrond smiled and let out a shout of joy. The 7 o'clock bell began to ring.
Erestor looked up glumly as he heard the 7 o'clock bell start. He had been unable to get any work done for some time and had stopped pretending that he was even trying. He slid his hands along the desk he sat at and looked around the upper floor of the Library, the setting sun shining through the window in rainbow colors.
Erestor stood, meaning to leave, when something caught his eye out of the window. The Bruinen flowed at the bottom of the valley and from the Library window you could see its path from the waterfall to where it disappeared into the distance. The adviser leaned on the sill, staring at the bank of the river where a lone rider headed this way. He narrowed his sharp eyes and a smile broke out on his face. "Lord Elrond." he muttered in joy. Erestor turned and raced across the balcony, yelling. "Lord Elrond is back! Sound the bell!"
Uial put on a burst of speed as he turned from the river and headed toward the gate. The bell began to ring again as Elrond pulled Uial to a stop in the courtyard. Elves poured from the house, calling to their lord, for who they had all been worried about since the news of the attack. Uial pranced as many hands reached out to pet him, panting with the exertion of the ride but happy none the less. "Lord Elrond!" called Erestor, pushing through the group to the half-Elf's side.
Elrond turned his head to Erestor, a smile on his face. "We're fine! We're all fine!" the Elf lord tried to tell everyone gathered around them. He allowed Erestor to help him off Uial and stumbled as he tried to put weight on his right foot; the limb had gotten stiff while riding. Erestor steadied him and looked at Elrond with concern. "Or maybe not." said Elrond with mirth.
"It was amazing!" cried Aragorn. Elrond turned to see the child in Meneréial's arms, excitingly telling the she-Elf healer around their wild ride. "I've never seen a horse run so fast!" Aragorn leaned over and hugged Uial's neck tightly.
"Indeed!" said Elrond. "Make sure Uial receives special care tonight! He is the reason both of us are still alive!"
"He will receive the greatest care!" called another Elf. The Elves in the courtyard exploding into cheers and clapping.
Meneréial laughed, hosting Aragorn higher in her arms. "Come, we must see to you both in the House of Healing." she said. "And then it will be rest for the both of you." Erestor shifted to put one of Elrond's arms over his shoulders and helped him mount the stairs and walk into the house.
Erestor was waiting for them again as Glorfindel and the twins rode into the courtyard. Glorfindel jumped from Asfaloth's back even as the white horse was sliding to a stop. He brushed his wild blond hair from his face as he strode toward the adviser. "Where?" he demanded.
"They're in the House of Healing." answered Erestor. "They're fine but for a few minor injuries, just tired and… Glorfindel!" The blond Elf didn't slow as he went by Erestor, heading into the house at a light jog. The twins looked at the adviser nervously but Erestor waved at them. "Go." The two younger Elves raced after Glorfindel and disappeared into the house. Shortly after the other groups rode in, rising a clatter on the stone, and Erestor patiently informed them all about the news of their lord. The Elven adviser smiled a little as genuine relief showed in each face.
Glorfindel refrained from breaking out into a full run as he made his way through the halls of the Rivendell house. [Erestor said they were fine. Both Elrond and Aragorn are fine. Elrond is fine.] He skidded to a stop in the archway of the House of Healing. His wide blue eyes quickly scanned the room and settled on a chair by the fire. The red flame danced over Elrond's face, shadowing his closed eyes. The Elf lord held a cup of tea in his hands with pleasure, holding the cup in front of his lips and enjoying the comforting smell. His cloak and boots were gone, removed now that he was home, and his feet rested on top of a small cushion ottoman. Glorfindel felt something warm and cold rush through his body before he stumbled as the twins rushed past him. "Ada!"
Elrond looked up and smiled as his sons neared him. "Elladan! Elrohir!" He put down his tea as the twins knelt beside him and took his hands.
"We're so glad you're alright, Ada." said Elladan.
"We were so worried." added Elrohir.
Elrond pulled his hands away and stroked each twin's cheek. "I'm fine. Uial carried both Aragorn and I to safety."
Elladan's eyes sparkled and he looked at his twin. "You wanted me to remind you to give Uial a sack of carrots." he teased Elrohir.
Elrond laughed. "That horse is going to be so spoiled."
Meneréial walked into the room from a supply closet, a jar in her hands and Aragorn walking with her. "Young masters." the she-Elf healer greeted.
The twins looked up and smiled. "Hello Aragorn." said Elrohir. "Have a nice ride?" he teased.
Elladan swung the child up into his arms, Aragorn laughing. "Don't mind him! We're so glad to see you!"
Meneréial smiled and knelt in front of Elrond. "I have the salve, my lord." she said.
Elrohir frowned a little. "You were hurt, Ada?" he asked, his eyes moving over his father but not seeing any injuries.
Aragorn laughed and wiggled to be let down. "You should have seen him! I've never seen anything like it!" he exclaimed as Elladan set him on the floor. The child kicked his leg up awkwardly, trying to copy Elrond. "He was like ha! Ho! Kicked that orc right in the head and into a tree, he did!" Aragorn kicking into the air again and fell with a yelp as he lost his balance.
Elrond chuckled and gestured to his slightly discolored right ankle. "Unfortunately, those moves were more effective with shin armor on." he said.
"Lord Elrond didn't break anything but he did bruise his ankle well. Nothing we can't fix." informed Meneréial. She opened the jar and spread the clear substance onto Elrond's ankle, rubbing it in lightly. Elrond smiled a little as he felt the ache in the limb disappear. Finally, Meneréial wiped her hands on a towel and placed her hands a few inches above his ankle. The she-Elf healer's hands shone dimly as she used her energy to heal the slight wound, easing tendons and muscles. She opened her eyes when she finished and Elrond wiggled his toes, feeling no pain.
"Thank you, Meneréial." said Elrond. He slid his boots back on as Meneréial bowed and stepped away. The Elf lord stood and tested his weight, the twins watching nervously.
Erestor walked into the room, going over to the fire. He clasped hands with Elrond for a moment. "I trust that Meneréial had dealt with your shoulder and ankle?" asked the adviser.
Elrond smiled, rotating his sore shoulder carefully, the small cut not warranting healing. "Aye, she is a fine healer." he praised.
Meneréial blushed lightly as she capped a bottle near by. "I had a very good teacher." she replied.
Elrond chuckled and picked up Aragorn. "I do not know about any of you, but I wish a bath before anything else. Erestor, I believe both Aragorn and I will be forgoing dinner in the Hall this evening."
Erestor nodded with an understanding smile. "I will have food sent up to both your chambers." he said. The adviser looked around then, frowning. "Where is Glorfindel?" he asked. Erestor was surprised to see the blond Elf even a few feet from Elrond now that he had returned, let alone not anywhere in sight.
The twins looked around as well. "We past by him when we entered." said Elladan.
"He was just standing in the doorway." added Elrohir. "Perhaps he went to…"
"Check on the guards that were in the search party." finished Elladan.
"No matter." Erestor said quickly. "As long as he is wondering about somewhere." He bowed to Elrond. "I will see to the dinner tonight and send food for both Aragorn and you later, my lord." he said.
Elrond nodded. "Thank you, Erestor." The dark haired adviser walked from the room quickly. Elrond shifted Aragorn in his arms and started for the door as well. "It has been a most adventurous day, has it not?" said the Elf lord to no one in particular. Aragorn giggled and nodded. Amazing how exhaustion often made children hyper, thought Elrond.
"Yes, most adventurous." agreed Elladan.
"Let's not repeat it any time soon." grumbled Elrohir.
"I am in complete agreement with that." replied Elrond. The group mounted the stairs to the family wing and turned to walk down the hall. Elrond stopped and cocked his head, staring at the figure next to his doorway. The twins looked nervously at each other; they had found Glorfindel. The blond haired Elf was leaning against the wall next to Elrond's door, his head hanging and his long hair hiding his face.
Elladan bit his lip and spoke softly to his father. "Glorfindel blames himself for what happened today. He was worried sick." he muttered.
"He said he failed to protect you and it was his fault." added Elrohir. The younger twin reached out for Aragorn. "We'll take Aragorn to his room and wash him, Ada." he offered.
Elrond nodded and handed Aragorn to the twin. The Elf lord stroked the child's cheek again, smiling at him. "Thank you, Elrohir. Elladan. Good night Aragorn." The twins walked away with Aragorn, disappearing into the child's room. Elrond stood in the hall for a moment more before walking up to Glorfindel. The blond Elf straightened but did not lift his head. Elrond stopped before him and reached out two fingers to lift Glorfindel's chin. The blue eyes that stared at him were dim and watery.
"I'm sorry." whispered Glorfindel.
The distressed look in the other Elf's eyes pulled at Elrond's heart. "Oh, Glorfindel." he muttered softly. Elrond opened his door and pulled the reluctant blond into his room, closing the door behind them. Feeling fatigue roll through his body, Elrond made his way to his bed and sat down on the edge. "Glorfin…" Elrond was startled when Glorfindel suddenly strode forward and knelt before him, laying his head on Elrond's lap. Elrond sat still for a moment, hands in midair and unable to react to this odd event. His dark eyes widened as he felt Glorfindel tremble against his legs and saw his shoulders begin to shake. Carefully, Elrond lowered his hands to rest on top of Glorfindel's golden head. "Glorfindel?" he whispered, concerned.
The voice that answered him was horse and choked. "I am to blame. I did not protect you as I should. I failed you." The candle light danced over the pair and moonlight streamed in behind them from the open balcony. A light breeze fluttered the drapes and curled around the two figures sitting in the room. Crickets called from outside and the stars twinkled in the dark sky.
Elrond pushed back Glorfindel's hair, leaning down to see his seneschal's eyes. Tears swam in the unsettled blue orbs and Glorfindel's breathing was ragged. "Oh no, Glorfindel, no one is to blame for today. You are not to blame." The dark haired half-Elf ran his finger's through Glorfindel's hair, trying to soothe him.
Glorfindel gave a small hiccup and some tears finally fell from his eyes, soaking into Elrond's leggings. "I failed you." he muttered.
Elrond leaned down and kissed away a tear, still stroking Glorfindel's hair. "You have never failed me, Glorfindel. Such a thing is not possible." he answered. He began to take out the braids in Glorfindel's long hair. "Do you remember the night of that big storm? When both Aragorn and I were trapped in his old room and it was starting to catch fire from the fallen tree?" Elrond felt Glorfindel nod against his legs and continued. "Aragorn was nearly hysterical with panic. He was very afraid and do you know what I told him to soothe him?" The blond head shook from side to side and Elrond ran his fingers through the loosened strands. "I told him that you had never failed me, Glorfindel, and that you would not then. I told him this because I believed and still believe it with all my heart. You have never failed me, you never will fail me, and you have not failed me now." Elrond leaned down and kissed the corner of Glorfindel's lips. "Please stop blaming yourself, Glorfindel. The blame is not yours to bear but the orcs alone." Elrond kept up his touches even as he felt drowsiness seep into his body and pull at his eyelids.
When a soft knock sounded at the door Glorfindel pulled away and stood, wiping at his eyes as he turned toward the door. Elrond reached out and grabbed a hold of the other Elf's wrist. "Glorfindel?" he asked, searching the misty eyes.
Glorfindel turned his wrist around and captured Elrond's hand, turning it up and placing a kiss on the palm. "Hennad, el-nín." [Thank you, my star] muttered Glorfindel into Elrond's skin. Glorfindel pulled away from a surprised Elrond and opened the door.
Imglín smiled at Glorfindel as he opened the door, lifted a tray full of food a little higher. "Evening, my lord. I brought you some food." she said. Glorfindel opened the door wider and the she-Elf walked inside to place the tray down. "I must say that I'm glad to hear that you made it back safely, my lord. We were all worried about you." Imglín narrowed her blue eyes at her lord and frowned. "Are you alright, Lord Elrond? You look like you were just given a startle."
Elrond blinked and then smiled at her. "I'm fine, Imglín. I'm just a little tired, that's all."
Imglín nodded, seemingly satisfied. "Right then. I can understand that, my lord. Rest well." The she-Elf bowed and walked out of the room, the door closing behind her.
Glorfindel turned and walked over to the tray, pouring a cup of tea. Elrond stood and neared the table as well. "Glorfindel…"
The blond Elf put a cup of tea into Elrond's hands and pushed him down into a chair. "Here, eat. You've not had a good meal since breakfast." Glorfindel said. Elrond remained silent as the other Elf laid out the food onto the table. "Eat." ordered Glorfindel again. He sat down as the dark haired half-Elf started to eat, urged by his hunger. It was also not long until that same half-Elf fell victim to his exhaustion and dozed off.
Elrond's head lulled to the side, his eyes sliding shut and his breathing deepening. Glorfindel stood and slid his arms under him, lifting him from the seat and carrying him to the bed. Glorfindel lay Elrond upon the bed and then pulled off his boots, making the dark haired half-Elf comfortable. He then eased himself to sit on the edge of the bed, reaching out and stroking the long hair as Elrond had done for him. "I wish I was worthy of your trust." muttered Glorfindel.
Heavy eyes opened into slits and looked at him, much to Glorfindel's surprise. "You are worthy, Glorfindel, and I do trust you." whispered a tired Elrond. He reached up and slid his hand into Glorfindel's, locking their fingers together.
Glorfindel smiled and stroked Elrond's cheek. "Go to sleep, el-nín." [My star]
Elrond sank into his pillow, closing his eyes once more. "Trust you with all my heart." he mumbled. Glorfindel felt something very dark leave his soul and felt tears well in his eyes. Carefully, as to not disturb the other, he lay down on the bed and placed their intertwined hands on his chest. Elrond rolled toward the warmth, laying his head on Glorfindel's shoulder and pressing against his side with a sigh. Glorfindel smiled ever so softly as he wrapped his other arm around Elrond's back, cradling him. He closed his eyes for a moment, muttering quietly to the stars outside. Glorfindel then pulled the covers of the bed over them and settled down to sleep. The stars twinkled happily in the night sky, a gentle wind blowing through the trees.
I would like to take the time to answer some of my reviewers. I know I always get a kick when someone else does this.
Canon Police: Gilraen didn't die? She lived until Aragorn was 20? I…didn't… know…that. For the sake of the story we'll keep this under our hats. ; )
Arabella thorne: Thanks for the spelling corrections.
Crysdan Potter Black & grumpy & Linwe Seregon: Thanks!
Frodo16424: Yes, it is nice to see Elrond happy. He deserves it.
Andorgene & Eressea: I don't like stories that are only smut. I like romance too. Glad you like.
Jaimi: Ask for more of the story, of course! Glad you like it.
Kaminari: I'm happy that you praise my writing style and my characterization. I capitalize Elrond's Study because it's a main room in the house, it's sort of a title.
Dragon: Thanks for the info! About the Steward thing, it always confused me why Isildur's son hadn't become King when the ring betrayed him and he died. I know he had a son. So, why did the Stewards get the throne?