Warnings - AU and slash, and some pretty nasty things happening to elflings (nothing too graphic)

A/N Thanks to Orchyd Constyne for creating the name Rosuil (Seaweed salve) for me

A/N ((...)) denotes thought

A keening wail resounded through the stone chamber and the sleeping elf was jolted to awareness by uncontrollable tremors that coursed through his body. He heard a sharp knock at the door, which was swiftly followed by the entrance into his bedchamber of two fully armed guards.

"Are you well Lord Maedhros?"

"Aye, all is well, 'tis but a dream" the elf Lord replied rather shakily, "Leave me"

The guards did as they were bid, retreating from the room soundlessly, exchanging concerned glances as they did so, but finally shutting the door softly behind them.

Maedhros rose from the bed and made his way over to the basin of water on the dressing table. He stared at his reflection in the mirror, his face gaunt and tear-stained,

((What have I done, Elbereth!! What have we done!))

His reflection stared accusingly back at him.

Shaking his head, he hastily splashed water over his face and donned a robe. He needed only to open the door to find the guards that he thought to seek out. His face grim he commanded them to ready his horse and as much food as could be carried by one horse travelling at speed, for he would leave at dawn.

Gil-Galad smiled at the elfling in his charge, as the young one tried to reason with his yearling that stripping tree bark was not a honourable pursuit for such a noble elven horse.

Gil-Galad lent back against a tree and sighed, it felt good to him to be riding free in the fresh winter landscape, once more away from the yoke of duty. Though this was but a short excursion, the elfling lifted his spirits ((he is every bit as wild as the horse I have gifted him)) he mused.

He thought back to the conversation he had had with Mithrandir about this young one. It had been with some reluctance that he and CĂ­rdan had accepted the elfling into their house, he was not high born and shared a name with one of High King Turgon's own Lords, that fact alone had caused Gil-Galad some discomfort, as what mother would knowingly give her son the name that belonged to another. Still the old wizard was wise and Gil-Galad had in the end bowed to his judgement, as he knew that the Istari was farsighted and would not ask lightly. In the three years that Glorfindel had fostered with him in Balar he had become very fond of the youngster.

Having sufficiently chastised his mount, the elfling turned his gaze to the Elf Lord.

"My Lord, if you are sufficiently rested I'll wager you, Asfaloth and I can beat you and Alagos (Storm) to the copse of birch trees at the foot of the hill!"

"Ai! Young one you are bold indeed! I would wager that Asfaloth would throw you ere you come to the first of the birch trees, your horse is little trained"

The elfling lifted up his golden head proudly and replied "Aye, Asfaloth is indeed unskilled, but a sure rider can temper the fire in an unbroken mount"

At that Gil-Galad laughed, ((Aye))he thought ((this one could in turn be tempered by being beaten by his sure-footed Alagos (Storm))). "Very well, Glorfindel, you have yourself a wager, but see you do not come to harm, the healers would have strong words for me should you require their skills upon our return!"

Glorfindel gave Gil-Galad a brilliant smile and an over exaggerated bow, the Elf Lord rolled his eyes but couldn't help smiling at the young elf's antics.

Gracefully Glorfindel mounted and gently patted Asfaloth's neck while whispering words of encouragement, as Gil-Galad mounted his black stallion and rode along side.

A thundering of hoofs on the lightly snow covered ground signalled their off. Glorfindel took an early lead but fell back after Asfaloth's clumsy negotiation of a tree. Gil-Galad rode now five strides in front and held the lead despite Asfaloth's best efforts. Less than a hundred yards from the finish Gil-Galad pulled Alagos (Storm) sharply left.

Glorfindel frowned to see Gil-Galad veer off so suddenly, though he caught the Lord's arm gesture to follow so guided Asfaloth to pursue him.

Glorfindel brought Asfaloth to a stand by Alagos (Storm), un-tethered and now rider less, and dismounted.

"What is it, My Lord?" Glorfindel asked, Gil-Galad's expression was strange and dark and made him feel uneasy.

"I am not sure, bring your saddlebag and sword Glorfindel"

Glorfindel inclined his head. He donned his sword and casually threw the saddlebag over his left shoulder before catching up with the Elf Lord who had gone on ahead. He came to rest at Gil-Galad's side at the edge of a clearing in the sparsely tree covered landscape, not far from where the horses had been left.