Chapter 1

Circa Year 1 of the Second Age

Morgoth, the Black Enemy, has been vanquished by the Valar and Calaquendi; but with that triumph, even evil must come.  Beleriand broke and fell into the sea; the earth groaning and heaving with the pains of all that had befallen its fragile crust.  Elves led by their king, Ereinion Gil-Galad, plus many other groups have all joined by the mouth of a river newly named Lhûn.  Eönwë, the Herald of Manwë found this remnant and laid before the sons of Eärendil their choices of Mortality.  The Silmarils have found their ends, as have the last two sons of Fëanor as our story begins.  On the jagged coast of what was once home, we begin our journey.

~*~

                  Two dark haired Elves walked side by side, identical height, same slender Elvin build.  Hands were firmly clasped behind each back as they spoke in soft tones easily overpowered by the water's roar.  Muted and dull gray robes fluttered in the harsh wind.  Their pale cheeks were burnt a light red by the force of the gale.  One wore a worried look upon his slightly ruddy and unaged face as a younger one finished his spiel.

                  " And then he laid before us the choice of immortality or mortality.  He returns in a few days, giving us a short time to determine our final fate."

                  The worried and weary Elf rubbed his chin before shaking his head.

                  " This choice was laid before you, Elrond.  I cannot council you nor try to sway you to join my cause.  Have you spoken with Elros?"

Elrond looked across the waves glittering with Anar's last light.  He finally shook his head.

                  " I am afraid to, Ereinion.  I am afraid to even ask."  Elrond looked up, pain visible in his clear gray eyes.  " I am afraid he will wish to be mortal."  Elrond's brow creased with concern.  " That he will one day die."

                  Ereinion Gil-Galad, king of the Noldor, crossed his arms before rubbing his hands together and shivering at the icy cold blast of wind.

                  " Mandos, it is cold."  He muttered.

                  " Ereinion Gil-Galad!  You are not even listening to me!"  Elrond exclaimed indignantly, his short temper falling free of its careful confines.

Ereinion sent the younger a scorching glance at being talked to so impertinently.  Elrond met the gaze head on, his jaw set harshly.  Ereinion waved a hand, not wishing to spar with the great debater.

*He will mix me up until I cannot remember what I was speaking about.

                  " Keep your trousers on, Elrond.  I am listening.  You cannot deny that Elros' love is for men, rather than Elves, just like your father."

Elrond sighed, his eyes unconsciously finding the Gil-Estel.

                  " I guess I must go speak with him."

Ereinion nodded.

                  " And the sooner the better."

Elrond turned back towards the brightly lit camp without another word.

                  Ereinion watched him go before sighing.

*So young to decide his fate and no father to guide him.

He continued his slow amble along the jagged coastline.  The moonlight lit the tips of his ebony head, creating a crown more regal than any Elf-made craft.  The stars shone brightly behind his head, serving as jewels to set in the crown of light.  Ereinion sighed again.

*Elros will choose the Gift of Men.  He already spoke that he is weary with his years.

                  Ereinion had to chuckle slightly remembering the conversation.

*And he is barely a century old?  What of us Elves that are millennia's old?  According to him, we should be comatose.

His mirth faded as soon as it began.

*But what if Elrond follows his brother?

                  Ereinion shook his head, his hands tightening behind his back.  He could not deny that there was a certain fondness for the elder half-Elven that was not as apparent with Elros.

*They all keep leaving.  My mother will leave with Eönwë and those Elves when he returns.  She will go to Valinor now that we are pardoned.

Ereinion shook his head.

*And yet some of us remain here.

His eyes turned to Varda's bright jewels far above his head.

*Why?  What madness keeps us bound to this fading earth when perfection is offered?

No answer thundered from the heavens.  A small smile lit his face when a star fell across the sky.  He stood there; content to stare up and decipher what he could from the star patterns.  Thundering footsteps broke him from his stargazing.

                  " My lord, my lord!  We are under attack!!"

~*~

                  Ereinion unsheathed the sword at his side, all the time wishing for his great spear that Celebrimbor had recently gifted him with.  Ereinion slew an orc mercilessly, becoming a fiery inferno of death to his enemy.  These orcs were frightened.  Their lord had just been vanquished and they were leaderless.  Orcs had never been renown for their brains.

                  Ereinion lost count as he moved through the orcs like a ship's prow through water.

*Duck, parry, stab, slice…

Elrond suddenly jumped into the fray as a deluge of orcs swept down upon the King.  Elrond glanced at Ereinion in a rare spare moment, catching the King's eye.

                  " Elros and Círdan have taken some of our people to ambush the rest."

Ereinion ducked a sloppy blow, feeling another slam into his arm.  He bit his lip, concealing his pain.

                  " I hope we last that long."

~*~

                  Galadriel led the Elves into the camp again.  The orcs had retreated, and many Elves, led by Círdan, had gone to hunt them down.

                  " Galadriel, where is my son?"

Galadriel glanced at the weary, sword-wielding wife of Fingon.

                  " You have not seen Ereinion?"

The light brown haired she Elf shook her head.

                  " Where is my son, Artanis?  I refuse to lose him too to Mandos' Halls so soon after my husband fell."

Galadriel clasped the woman's arm.

                  " We will find him Melaurë."

~*~

                  Elros leapt over bodies, sliding to his knees beside his brother.  Elrond was on his knees, doubled over in either pain or death.  Elros hesitantly touched his shoulder.

                  " Do not touch me."  Elrond growled.

Elros let out a sigh of relief.

                  " Praise Eru you still draw breath!"  He crouched so he could see his brother's face.  " Are you ok?"

Elrond nodded grimly, his voice conveying the pain he felt.

                  " Just a-" Elrond took a deep breath before continuing.  " Stomach wound.  They got Ereinion worse.  Everyone deserted us, leaving the two of us to fight all these orcs alone."

Elros ran a hand over his eyes, a bout of emotion sweeping over him.  He could not even conceive of a world without his twin.

                  " But you live."

                  Galadriel's silver haired husband came to an abrupt stop and then fell to his knees beside a body.  He turned, seeing his wife and Melaurë approaching.

                  " Galadriel, take Melaurë to the tents."

The mother was beside her son in a second, knowing that Celeborn had found him.  She put a hand to her mouth before brushing his bruised forehead.  Ereinion was a bloody mess, literally.  Galadriel could only stare from her place, unsure of how exactly to heal such brokenness.  She looked down at her husband, shocked at the sight of one so young, so battered.  Celeborn leaned over, checking for a pulse and then respiration.

                  " Help me get him to a tent.  He still draws breath."