The Twisted Web of Fate. 18?

(Gwî Norn Ned Amarth)

By the Sinister Sindar Sisters (M. Cross and B. Kennedy)

Disclaimer: Try as we might, we still don't own any part of the wondrous world created by the genius of J.R.R. Tolkien, so we just visit it and borrow a few characters for these stories. We only write them for our own entertainment and we surely don't make any money off them.

Beta: Barbara Kennedy

Rating: R (see warnings) Action/adventure/angst

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Spoilers: for Tolkien's works in general (?)

Summary: Thranduil and his young son must travel to a trade meeting very soon after the death of their wife and mother. Unknown to them, dire danger and darkness follows them. Will they survive to return to their beloved home alive?

WARNINGS - First of all, we are writing this story for our own amusement, but we hope you enjoy it too.

There is a lot of angst and hurt/care throughout this story. Shell (M. Cross) is a stickler for medical accuracy and we are following the viewpoints of a lot of healers. Violence, graphic illness and injury descriptions as well as references to adult behaviours, physical or mental infliction of torture, and possible character deaths may be found here. It may be disturbing to some. If that is not your interest, you might want to look elsewhere. The story is Alternate Universe to begin with, though heavily structured on Middle-earth history, research and medical fact.

Story Cast: Thranduil, Legolas, Elrond, Elrohir, Elladan, Arwen, Erestor, Glorfindel, Galadriel, Celeborn, Haldir, Rumil, Orophin, Mithrandir (Gandalf), the Valar, Gwaihir, OMCs, OFCs, OCCs (Other creature characters)

Pairings: Rumil/OFC, OMC/OFC. (Eventually)

Timeline: Pre-LotR, Third Age - around the Days of Dearth (2758 – 2760)

Author's Notes: We could find no definitive information on the brothers Haldir, Rumil and Orophin, so we are taking matters into our own hands.

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http/ Sindarin vocabulary ----

References: Dragon Flame Sindarin Dictionary, Thain's Book, Council of Elrond and Encyclopedia of Arda

Adan, Edain … (The race of) man, men

Adar, ada … Father, dad

Amarth … Fate, doom

Anírach i dulu nín? ... Do you want my help?

Anor … the sun

Aran, Aran-nin … King, my King

Arda … The world

Aur maer … good morning

Avo bedo! ... Do not speak!

Caun … Prince

Daer … great

DaerAda, DaerNana … (Roughly) Grandfather, Grandmother

Elenath sila am le! … Stars shine upon you!

Elleth, ellith … Elf-maiden, elf-maidens

Ellon, ellyn … Elf, elves (male)

Eru ... Ilúvatar, The One, leader of the Valar

Estë … Vala associated with healing, wife of Irmo

Fëa … Spirit, soul

Fileg … Small bird

Gon … Captain

Gwador, gwedeir… Brother, brothers (by adoption or association.)

Gweston. ... I swear.

Gwî ... Web

Hannon le … Thank you

Heniach nin? ... Do you understand me?

Henion. ... I understand.

Hennad … Thanks

Hír, Hír-nin … Lord, my Lord

Híril, Híril-nin … Lady, my Lady

Hûn-lhass … Digitalis, foxglove, name is our creation - literally heart-leaf

Iaur … old

Imladris … Rivendell

Ion-nin … My son

Irmo … Vala of dreams and visions, also known as Lórien

Laes … babe

Losto mae! … Sleep well!

Man pennich? ... What did you say?

Meleth … (My) Love

Mellon-iaur … Old friend

Mellon-nin, mellyn-nin … My friend, my friends

Minno … Enter

Miruvor … Cordial of the Elves. Miruvor was a warm and fragrant clear liquid. Its special property was to give the drinker renewed strength and vitality. – Source: The Thain's Book site.

Muindor … brother (blood relation)

Námo … True name of the Valar Mandos

Naneth, Nana … Mother, Mom, Mum, Mama, etc.

Ned … Of

Nen … Water

Norn … Twisted

Penneth, pennyth … Young one, young ones

Saes … Please

Sell-nin … My daughter

Sîdh … Peace

Suilad … Hail or greetings

Tithen … Little, tiny

Ulmo … Vala of waters, oceans and streams are his dominion

Westron … Common language, the language of men.

/ Text / indicates thought, dream or visions


Chapter Eighteen


It took them longer to reach the meeting hall set aside for the trial than they expected. The meeting hall was the largest available in Fornost. Feelings were running so high in the town over what had happened that they needed the room to accommodate all who wanted to attend.

Because of the great interest, it took Galadriel and Orophin some time to make their way through the crowded corridors.

They had almost reached their destination when someone crashed into Galadriel from the side, knocking her off-balance. Orophin was quick enough to catch her. They turned to the young man who had walked into her. He scowled at them, trying to intimidate. He would have succeeded had he not been so young.

"You would do well to watch where you are going or someone will get hurt." Orophin gently chided, but his eyes were hard.

"That was the hope, elf!" The words were said in a low growl, meant to be menacing.

Orophin shook his head in amusement. This was meant to frighten them?

"Then I am afraid it is a forlorn hope. It will take far more than that to hurt or scare us." The reply was calm from the young ellon as he steadied Galadriel on her feet.

"Oh, yes? So where did those bruises come from? You think you are so hard? Look at you… barely out of your teens. Think you own the world, do you? Well, I will tell you now that you do not! We will show everyone what you truly are, deceitful, evil creatures that would have us bow to your whims! I will not let you bring further harm on my cousin. I intend to prove his innocence!" The young adan glared insolently.

Aha… so now they knew who this human was and why he was so belligerent towards them. Orophin would have said more, but Galadriel laid a calming hand on his arm and stepped forward to press her own case.

She smiled in wry amusement. "Barely out of our teens? You will long be dust before you reach half his age." She indicated Orophin. "Young we may look, but young we are not. These eyes have seen much in this world and you are not something to be feared. 'Deceitful, evil'?" She shook her head. "Those words can be rarely applied to our kind. I fear that you will soon realise that, as the truth about your cousin comes to light." Her eyes hardened as she pierced him with a chill gaze. "As for the bruises on my son's face…" Her voice grew icy cold and even Orophin shivered to hear it. "They were earned as my son restrained himself from hurting your cousin and his friends. Just because he carries bruises, it does not make him weak. To the contrary, it makes him braver than either you or your cousin! Now, I think it best that you go along your way, child, your mother is worried and looking for you. She fears that you have tried to do something stupid. Far be it from me to tell her you have succeeded!" It was no idle threat either.

The young man's eyes widened as Galadriel spoke, growing larger with each point she made, but his mouth hung open when she mentioned that the young elf by her side was her son, not her brother as he had expected. Then with the mention of his mother he paled, gulping. He did not want to think of his mother being any angrier at him. She was an accurate shot with slipper or spoon. Why he was terrified of such a small person he did not know. But her small size did not stop him being scared of her, not by a long shot.

The youth's retort was snide, but it lacked the venom of his earlier words and there was an uneasy air about him "I would like to see you try. She would make ten of you! Watch your step!" With that he melted into the crowds.

Orophin's wide smile was genuine as he turned to Galadriel. "Naneth, I do love watching you when you are angry, especially when it is not me that you are angry with!"

"That is not what your Ada has to say on the matter!" She had a wry grin for his words. "And I would not let him get away with insulting you, ion-nin. After what you did I would not allow that. The evidence mounts against Tarlanc." She shook her head. It was impossible that the human could not be found guilty.

"I know some of the details are shocking. Still, Nana, it is time to go in or we will miss the start." Very gently Orophin moved to guide Galadriel into the chamber before he stopped and turned to her with worry on his face. When he spoke his voice was urgent. "Did he hurt you, Naneth? If he hurt you I will…"

"Orophin, he knocked into me and nothing more." She was concerned at the worry on his face. What had caused this?

"Then, Naneth, why are you limping?" Orophin's flax-pale right eyebrow was raised in an almost perfect imitation of Celeborn.

She had to smother a laugh. He was trying so hard to be her protector while Celeborn was away.

"I did not realise that I was limping." That at least was true. Until the knock, she had been walking happily. Now she was aware of a dull, throbbing pain in her leg, directly over the knee-cap and in the thigh muscle. It was just where Celeborn's wounds were, she realised, not surprised then. "I feel your Adar's pain."

"It is not you?" It was not that he did not believe her, just that he needed to be sure. He had lost one Naneth too early. He did not want to have that again.

"No, penneth, it is not me. Come, once I am seated and your Adar has taken his herbs, it will ease." She smiled at him easily. He was so like Haldir, such a sweet boy. He was growing into a fine ellon. Galadriel was very proud of him.

"If you are sure, Nana? We do not have to attend." Orophin was still worried.

"Yes, I do have to attend. I have to assure that both you and Banwen are safe and that Elnora has justice. Tarlanc will not get away with what he has done!" Galadriel was vehement.

"Then come, or we will be the last to find seats." Orophin gently guided her, making sure that no one else got near enough to bump her. Not that she was delicate, but she was his Naneth and almost seeing her knocked to the floor had been shocking. He realised that there was another faction that had to be factored into all of this. One they had not thought to consider before, Tarlanc's friends and family.

They would need to be watched.

They finally entered the chamber and moved to where Bainen stood, beckoning to them. Seats had been reserved for them, right at the front of the room.

"Banwen is coming. Mellroth wanted to make sure that both she and Malthenel were up to attending today. It will be quite an ordeal for them. Sit, and I will go and see what is keeping them." Bainen smiled easily, but the worry for his wife was clear in his eyes.

Bainen frowned as he watched the pair walk towards him. He said nothing, but his lips drew into a thin line and worry could be seen in his eyes.He waited until they had both taken their seats before saying anything.

"Your leg still pains you, Lady Galadriel? I will ask Mellroth to attend you before we start." He would not allow his friend to endure pain needlessly.

"Relax, Bainen. I am well, I just feel some discomfort from Celeborn, that is all." She smiled, trying to put him at ease.

"Are you sure? I would be much happier if Mellroth looked at you." He was honestly concerned.

"I agree with Lord Bainen, Naneth. I want to make sure that young man has not hurt you." Orophin ignored her warning glance.

"Young man? What young man? Did he hurt you?" There was anger in Bainen's voice.

"No. He bumped into me, that is all. He tried to make a point but it did not work. He did not hurt me." Galadriel reassured with a smile.

"Who was it?" Bainen would not let this go. No one threatened his guests once, but to have it happen twice!

"He did not give his name." Orophin reluctantly admitted.

"Is he here?" Bainen looked around him, searching for some of his men to take the idiot into custody.

"I do not know. I cannot see him in the crowd." There was frustration in Orophin's words. The man had dared to threaten Naneth.

"Then I want you to keep an eye out for him. I will not stand for this! They have gone too far! Dorrell!" He looked around for the new captain of his personal guard. He would not trust this to anyone else beside Garrick, and he was busy elsewhere with his new duties. Garrick was in charge of security for the prisoner today.

"Yes, my Lord?" A middle-aged man appeared as if from nowhere to stand at Lord Bainen's side, ready for anything.

Galadriel looked at him with experienced eyes and liked what she saw. He was older than many of the Fornost soldiers she had seen so far and blended well into the surrounding crowd so that one did not realise that he was there. It told her that he was a bodyguard and a very good one as well, to reach his age.

"There has been a threat against Lady Galadriel and her son. I know you have set someone to guard Lady Banwen." After what had happened who could blame him? "I want the same for Lady Galadriel and Lord Orophin."

There was a genuine smile on Galadriel's face. "Mellon nin, there is no need for that. I am well protected, better than you know."

"What do you mean?" Bainen was confused.

"I have Orophin by my side."

"You are very right there, Nana." Orophin's words made her smile. She had known he would protect her, but it was nice to have it confirmed.

"Hennad, ion-nin." Her smile was genuine again. "Lord Bainen, look around you, very carefully."

Bainen did so, not sure what he was looking for.

The first sweep of the council chamber revealed nothing to him, apart from the fact that there were two opposing factions in the chamber glaring at them. It seemed that despite the wealth of evidence that had been found against Tarlanc, he had supporters among some of the people.

"Look again, mellon nin, but ignore your people." Galadriel had an enigmatic look on her face, though her eyes sparkled with interest.

Bainen shrugged, but did as she asked. This time he tuned out his people, ignored the outrageous and colourful clothing that some of the high-ranking nobles used as a symbol of rank and power against the others, it was something he could never understand.

He also tuned out those less fortunate, whose clothes had seen better days. Some of the people were so thin they looked starved. That was something he was at least trying to do something about. Perhaps he and his family could look through their own closets to see if there was anything they could give to those less fortunate. He was sure they would find a lot.

Then his eyes began to spot what he had not seen before, because they seemed to blend in with the very walls. Grey clothes almost matching the colours of the walls. Even their hair seemed to be non-existent, no matter what the colour.

They were well guarded.

He slowly counted more than twenty elves stationed at various points around the chamber. If needed, they would be in motion within the blink of an eye. They were keenly alert even while standing back, blending into the crowd.

How his people could ever think they were weak was beyond him. They may look frail, but looks could be deceiving, as he had been taught quite well recently.

"Good." Galadriel could see the understanding in his eyes. "Now look above to the gallery."

He looked up, above their heads. All the way around the chamber was ringed a narrow wooden balcony, for use when there was a need such as this. It meant that more could attend should the need arise. It had been needed on more than one occasion, but not very often. Rarely did the occasion warrant such widespread interest from the townsfolk.

At present it was as tightly packed as the chamber floor. Everyone, it seemed, wished to be present to witness this trial. It is not every day that a person was tried for attempted murder against a member of the ruling family, after all.

He ignored the people, he knew what tolook for now and it was not them.

There! On either side of the gallery and hidden in shadows so that you could only see them if you knew what to look for were two elves and in their hands were their bows. The cold look of determination on their faces made him shiver.

"I see what you mean." He turned back to her. "You think they are necessary?"

"They will take no chances. It is better to be safe and know that no one has been harmed than regret not doing it to start with." Galadriel was so calm that it was unnerving for the Lord of Fornost.

"Do you think we will need them?" Bainen would not put a guard on her now that he knew that she was being watched and closely protected.

"I do not know, but I will say this. They will not cause harm to any of those that I care for. My guards will make perfectly sure of that." Bainen shivered at the cold tone of her voice. She could not mean what he thought she meant? "They will also make sure that should an attack happen the perpetrators will remain alive, not very happy, but alive."

The shivering became worse. He had never heard such a coldly determined voice before. "What will they do?" Was he sure he wanted to even ask? This was too much like how it had been when they had talked with Tarlanc after the attack. Coldly commanding, fierce and beautiful and yet so frightening it was hard to believe that she was the same gentle Lady.

"They would shoot to incapacitate and nothing more." Then she smiled and her voice became warm again. "How fare Banwen and Malthenel this morn?"

"Banwen was well. She has recovered from the shock of what has happened very well. Mellroth is pleased with her. I wish the same could be said of Malthenel." His voice was a little strained.

Galadriel as perceptive as usual picked up on it right away. "What did Mellroth say about him?"

"He doubts Malthenel will ever recover from this treachery. His heart appears to have been damaged in the attack that he suffered. He will in all likelihood have to retire from public life." Banwen sighed and rubbed his eyes tiredly. "I doubt he will ever be the man I knew once again. To think his son was capable of doing this. I still do not truly believe it myself. Would that this was all over and settled."

"It will be soon. I am here to help you. I will be by your side throughout this. If there is anything I can do to help, you need only say so." Galadriel promised him and Orophin nodded his agreement.

"I know, thank you." It was said with sincerity. He then turned to Dorrell. "Dorrell, I believe that everything is covered here, although I want you to let our men know that the elves they see about are working for us and mean no harm other than to anyone who tries to bring harm to us. I do not want them to be targeted should someone try some kind of ill-advised revenge. Is that understood?"

Dorrell had waited patiently and silently throughout their discussion. He nod in affirmation. "Of course, my Lord." His voice was as hoarse as they had ever heard in a human and Galadriel started. She had not expected that!

"Good, come along, I wish to escort Lady Banwen here. We should start soon." The other nodded and left the chamber. Bainen turned to Galadriel and Orophin. "You will be alright until I return?"

"Of course we will, and you will not be long anyway." There was no sting in Galadriel's voice.

"No, we will not. I really want to get this over with." He stood. "We will be back."

He stepped quickly from the chamber, forcing himself not to look back at his guests. Why did he have this awful feeling that something was going to happen? Something bad? It all had to do with the tense atmosphere. As his Ma used to say when she was alive, he could almost feel it in his waters. He had never understood that before. He wished with all his heart that he did not understand now.

He also wished that Amaruvdor was here, well almost. He did not care to think of what would have happened had he been in Fornost with all this happening.

He took a deep breath as he stepped out of the chamber…


The noise of voices rose from its muted level as Lord Banwen left the chamber. Galadriel looked around her, seemingly indifferent and aloof.

But one only need look at her eyes to know that she was as sharp as anything and catching all the little byplays between the people in the chamber. Her ears, sharp as her eyesight, could catch all the nuances of their conversation. By pretending not to notice she could hear every word that was said. It was a very effective way to gather information and only a few people in Fornost knew how acute elven hearing actually was, and they were not in the chamber.

There were some heavy threats of what they would like to do to the elves from the side that favoured Tarlanc. From the other side were grumblings of what they would like to see done to the prisoner.

And then all fell silent. You could hear nothing but the birds that sang in the trees outside.

Galadriel and Orophin both turned to look where everyone else gazed. They both relaxed marginally.

Lord Bainen gently led a pale-looking Lady Banwen into the chamber. Behind them, and flanked on either side by his daughters, was Councilor Malthenel, grey-faced and looking like he had aged greatly since this had all started. His daughters gently guided him down the aisle. Behind them, with a healer's bag slung over his shoulder, was Master Healer Mellroth. His eyes never left the Councilor before him. Mellroth was in charge of his patients and would not let them out of his sight.

Lord Bainen led Lady Banwen to the chair that stood empty beside Galadriel. "Sit, My Love, and I will get you some water. I want you to stay only for as long as Mellroth permits it, is that clear?"

"Yes, Bainen, that has been made most clear to me. I will be fine. I feel much better." She gave him a brave smile.

"Good. I must go and take my seat. Take care?" He watched as she nodded and then left for the chairs and table set up prominently right at the front of the room .

"Good morning, Galadriel, my dear. I hear that your leg is still bothering you. Mellroth has some herbs for you to take once he has settled Malthenel." Banwen's smile was barely there as she turned back to watch her old friend. Malthenel looked like he had aged ten years overnight, and he was not a young man to begin with.

Galadriel could understand Banwen's concern. For the old human looked every one of his years and gray! Galadriel had seen more colour on a corpse. But it was his eyes that worried her. They told of the torment and utter wretchedness that he felt. They were sunken and glazed. They looked almost empty, too stunned to know what to think.

Galadriel kept her voice low. "Good morrow, Banwen. I am well. Mellroth should concentrate on Malthenel and worry not for me. I am fine now that I am sitting."

"You are sure?" Worry coloured Banwen's voice as she turned to look at Galadriel. Then she seemed to brighten as she looked at her properly. Galadriel had colour in her face once more and her eyes were bright and full of life. So different to the haunted face of her old friend beside her.

"I am sure." Galadriel reassured her. "Can we help?"

"I wish you could. I wish this would all go away and I could pretend it had never happened." Tears welled in her eyes.

"I know. I fully understand how you feel." And Galadriel did, more than Banwen knew.

"I know, my dear." There was understanding between them, an understanding that only two mothers can have as they worried for those that they loved.

A sudden sharp wooden tone of gavel knocking against striker made them all pay attention. With small smiles they turned to the front. It was time for the trial to start.


Linnathon felt a moment of panic as he watched the fat human collapse. Then sense returned as Gailarphen hurried to his side.

"What is it?" Gailarphen reached for a pulse.

"He just fainted." There was a self-deprecating tone to the healer's voice.

"Is that all?" There was amusement in Gailarphen's voice. "I thought he had stopped breathing the way you carried on then!"

Linnathon did laugh then, an embarrassed, rueful look on his face. "So did I."

"Help me get him settled." Between them they managed to settle the large human prone against the pillows.

"He alright?" Legolas suddenly asked.

"He will be fine, ion-nin. He is sleeping." Thranduil had watched with first alarm and then amusement as the scene had played out before them.

"Good. Can I see Rithlin? Have not seen him yet and he needs to be…" Legolas suddenly stopped speaking as he shrugged one shoulder, as if to make his mind up.

"Needs what, ion-nin?" Thranduil turned to his son with query on his face.

"Nothing, Ada. It will happen when it happens." The reply was so cryptic that Thranduil blinked at the elfling in his arms. "Can I go outside this evening, Ada, Just for a short while, to see the robin and the rabbits?" He smiled beseechingly at his father.

"We shall have to see what the afternoon brings. Gailarphen must agree that you may go." Thranduil told him gently. "You understand that?"

"Yes, Ada." And with that Legolas quite happily turned back to play with Fileg.


Rithlin slowly walked through Imladris, checking on the other members of the Mirkwood Guard, making sure that they were all alright. He had been made to leave the House of Healing and his friends so that he could get some rest. He still limped, but the healers were pleased with how his wound had healed.

The rest he had taken made things seem so much clearer. Now that everyone seemed to be finally healing, he did not feel he had to spend every minute watching over them. He also wanted to make sure that they were all settled.

The distant gentle tinkling of many tiny bells and slow hoof-beats sounded in the distance and made him turn. Imladris was receiving yet more visitors. He stood and waited, not sure why he felt that he should. It was perhaps the first time since leaving Mirkwood that he had some time to be alone to contemplate all that had happened, like Legolas' awakening and then the orc attack. So many thoughts and feelings that he had yet to sort through. And then he had been injured in that orc attack. At least he was healing now.

The gentle sound of silvery-voiced bells indicated the riders were drawing nearer and he could now hear calm singing that accompanied them. Whoever this was, they were elven and clearly came in peace.

But something puzzled him greatly. Why did he feel that his future rested on standing and waiting here? He was not one to believe in dreams, but this certainly felt like one.

"Ah, Rithlin, so this is where you went." The calm voice made him turn.

"Hír Erestor, suilad."

"Suilad. It is a fine morning." Erestor looked better-rested as well, Rithlin noted with sharp eyes. They all had needed the rest and break from the emergencies.

"Aye it is. I see you have visitors." Rithlin gestured in the direction of the sounds that were growing clearer as they neared.

"Aye, some of our kin from Lothlórien travel to Mithlond, ready to sail to the West. They will shelter here overnight and continue on their way tomorrow." There was a tinge of sadness to Erestor's tone.

Rithlin knew how he felt, for so many of their kin were leaving these shores as the darkness grew across Middle-earth. It saddened him greatly. He knew he too would leave eventually, if he could, but he still had so much more that he wished to accomplish and he would not leave Legolas and Thranduil. He had silently promised to stand by them back in that cold cave as they all fought to keep King and Prince alive.

"Lothlórien?" He knew that there should be none coming from Mirkwood. The latest group from Mirkwood going to the Grey Havens had left weeks before they had set out for Fornost, in spite of the lingering winter-like weather.

"Aye, we have none who wish to sail at this time. I have arranged chambers for them for as long as they wish to rest." Erestor told him.

"My men and I can move if you need our chambers." Rithlin had no doubt of that. He would always be helpful, if he could.

"Nay, it is not necessary. We have chambers ready and set aside, although it is with thanks that I say no to the offer." Erestor was smiling once more. He liked this young ellon. Rithlin was loyal and always willing to help. It was unsurprising that Thranduil should choose him for this journey. Even as the youngest of the Mirkwood Home Guard, he had more than proven himself.

"How fare Hír Elrond and Aran Thranduil?" Rithlin wanted to change the subject. He hated the thought of his friends and family leaving him. He had seen the pain that Randis had gone through when his love had departed for Valinor not so long ago.

"Recovering nicely. Both seem much better. I think Hír Elrond will be allowed up tomorrow if his recovery continues." Erestor was pleased at that.

Rithlin smiled fully. "I am glad. They had us worried."

"They have had us all worried." Erestor admitted. "Ah, there they are."

The first horse had come into view. They soon came in a steady stream, banners and sleeves floating on the soft breezes, a gentle glow about them.

As always, it took Rithlin's breath away.

Erestor moved forward to greet them. "Mae govannen, Hír Tegiband, and welcome once more to Imladris. Elenath sila am le!" He bowed.

The horses came to a stop and the lead elf moved forward to greet them. "Elenath sila am le! Mae govannen, Hír Erestor. I hope you are well, mellon nin?"

"Yes, I am, mellon iaur. The journey has been good so far?" Erestor was watching closely, with the fell creatures about, one had to be careful.

"Yes, we have met with no trouble."

"Hír Elrond has asked that I apologise that he is not here to greet you, he is indisposed at the moment and Glorfindel and I represent Imladris in his stead." Erestor told them.

"Elrond is alright?" The other elf was worried.

"Aye, he is recovering now. Elrond was injured and rests in the halls of healing at present. He has asked that you take your ease this evening. He will meet with you come morning."

"I am sorry that he is injured but pleased that he recovers. I look forward to meeting him once more." Tegiband was sincere. He knew the Imladris Lord of old.

"I will relay your greetings and well-wishes." Erestor had fulfilled the first part of his duty. "Let me show you to your chambers." At his words grooms appeared to help with the horses.

Much to Erestor's amusement and pleasure, Rithlin went to give aid as well.

Soon only a handful remained upon their horses. As they dismounted they were led to their chambers. They would all wish to refresh themselves before the evening meal was served.

Rithlin came upon the next horse and rider. Her gown told him this rider was an elleth and he was courteous, as his Naneth had taught him to be.

"Mae govannen, Híril nin." He bowed deeply.

"Mae govannen, Hír nin." Her voice was so sweet it was like listening to the birds sing and he felt compelled to look up into her face.

Sparkling, lively green-grey eyes looked back at him. She smiled.

Suddenly Rithlin's mouth went dry and he could not think. Never had he seen a creature of such beauty before.

"Come, sell nin, we should go in." The voice came from behind Rithlin and he turned to see a mature blond-haired elf that bore a great resemblance to the elleth before him.

"Of course, Ada." There was laughter in her voice as she turned.

"Anírach i dulu nín?" Do you want my help? Rithlin longed to touch her just once, even if he felt as if his world was falling apart around him.

She held out a dainty hand and let him help her from her horse.

"Hennad, Hír nin." Her thanks was genuine as well.

"Rithlin, i eneth nín." He could not take his eyes off of her. He had to brand her face in his memory where he could recall it for eternity.

"Hannon le, Rithlin." She gave a dainty nod before hurrying after her Adar.

Rithlin turned as if in a trance, watching her every move as she walked out of sight, out of his reach…

He pulled himself slowly together. He had searched for one to share his life with, as all elves did. He was sure he had just found her, only to lose her right away. She was sailing to Valinor and leaving Middle-earth. How could the Valar let this happen?

Heart in his stomach and with a sudden lack of interest in all around him Rithlin walked back the way he came. He did not even know her name.


"Who was that ellon?" Cennan turned towards his only child, happiness shining from green-hued eyes that Palanwen had inherited from him.

"I do not know, Ada. He said his name was Rithlin. By the style of his clothes it seems that he is from Mirkwood." She had a small smile on her face. It was taking all her strength of will not to turn back to see if Rithlin watched them.

"You do not know him?" Cennan sounded surprised.

"Nay, Ada, but then I have never been to Mirkwood before and only once to Imladris." His daughter was teasing him and he knew it.

"Perhaps we should find out more about him before we leave?" Cennan had seen something in his daughter's eyes that he believed he would never see this side of Valinor, interest in an ellon, nay, it was far more than that although he was not sure that his daughter was aware of it yet.

"Would that be wise?" There was uncertainty in her voice.

"Why not? You are not the one sailing, penneth, and you deserve to be happy." He wore a smile for his daughter. He worried about leaving her here all alone. Oh, he knew their friends and family would look after her and that Híril Galadriel would take her under her wing and nurture her as she did all the young elves left alone in her Realm. He had always admired her for that.

"But you and Naneth are leaving…"

"For now, Palanwen, but we will meet again, I promise you that. Until that day, I only want you to be happy and healthy. Someday I want to hear all about the lively elflings that I know you will one day raise and love, each little laes that will look so much like you." He had tears in his eyes. He only wished that he could stay and be a part of that. But he could not bear to be parted from his beloved bonded, Tathreniel. They had been together for so long that the thought of not being by her side was unbearable. He knew he would fade if they were parted, still he hated leaving their daughter alone.

"I promise that I will make you a proud grandfather some day, Ada, but you rush ahead. To do that I have to meet someone who will bond with me." Palanwen had tears in her eyes. She was being brave, but saying farewell to her Ada and Nana was the hardest thing she had ever done.

"And to do that you need to meet ellyn. I recommend you find out about a certain someone called Rithlin. Come, I wish to speak to Erestor." His old friend would help him, he knew.

As Palanwen moved to follow her father she did look over her shoulder just in time to see a green-clad back disappear from view. She felt great disappointment at that, which surprised her.


Rithlin had no idea where he was going. His head seemed to be in the clouds. All he could think of was that he had just let the most wonderful thing in Arda get away from him. He could still see her green eyes, so bright and happy. He wanted to make them sparkle with happiness.

A hand suddenly grabbed his shoulder and pulled him to a stop. Rithlin blinked. Right in front of him was a stonework pillar. If he had taken another step or two he would have walked right into it. That would have hurt.

"Rithlin? Mellon-nin, what is wrong? Are you injured?" He blinked again at the voice and his sight cleared to reveal a very worried Craban. It had been he who had prevented him from walking into the post.

"Nay, I am fine." He hardly recognized his own voice, it was so sad.

It did nothing to appease his friend. "Have you been knocked in the head? Is your wound infected?" He reached to touch the pale forehead. "I knew it was too soon for you to be up and about. Randis will have my hide."

Craban winced. Forget Randis, Captain Bremoline would have his hide and more if he let anything happen to their newest and youngest member. He would also have two others friends waiting in line behind him. There would be little left to drag back to Mirkwood if that were so. They had all taken this new member of their group under their wing.

"W…what?" Rithlin blinked at him as if he had never seen him before. Did the birdsong sound sweeter?

"Are you hurt? Come, let me take you to the healers." It was not a suggestion.

"Nay, she is lovely." His voice held a dreamy quality to it that greatly worried Craban. He had heard that tone from victims of orc-poison in their fever ranting.

"Who is?" He was pulling Rithlin along, he would not take no for an answer now, there was something seriously wrong with Rithlin, he was convinced.

"She is, so fair and her eyes..." He actually sighed.

Had he really heard that? Craban blinked. He must have heard wrongly.

"Who does, Rithlin? Saes, tell me?" Was he bewitched? He needed to know.

"I do not know her name, but she smiled and spoke to me before she left with her Adar." Rithlin smiled happily but then the smile fell. "She is leaving these shores."

Ah, Craban thought that perhaps he now knew what was happening here. All young ellyn went through this infatuation at least once as they grew before meeting their bonded. His friend just needed to sleep and he would be fine… But he would also make sure that he was checked by a healer to make doubly sure that was what the problem was.

The darkness of the doorway swallowed them from view as they entered the House of Healing.


"So have you set the date for the bonding yet?" The cheerful voice sounded in the quiet of the healing wing.

Doroniel sighed. If she had been asked this once in the last hour she had been asked it sixty times.

"In one year." She tried to keep the frustration out of her voice.

"I know, but when?" The voice was so darned cheerful that she wished for a minute that she could wipe the cheerfulness away, but then she felt guilty.

For just as she and Calandor were setting out on their lives together, Randis and his love had been painfully parted before they could marry. She feared that it must hurt him so very much when he saw others take this big step. She vowed to be more patient and understanding with him.

"I need to speak with both Calandor and Aran Thranduil about that and then I will let you know." She could not suppress her own joy and excitement, in spite of her worry and frustration.

"Good, the sooner I know the sooner I can begin to make some plans." Doroniel realized that Randis sounded genuinely happy for them. Why had she been so worried that he would be upset about this? Wait a minute, did he just say that? She was suddenly worried. "Plans? What plans are you talking about?"

"Before he was killed, I promised Calandor's adar that I would look after him and I plan to continue to do so. I will arrange the bonding and making sure that our side is prepared and ready. I will make certain that Calandor is ready too." Randis smiled happily. He had been waiting for this day for years. A day when he could show his friend's son just what he meant to him.

"I am touched, as Calandor will be." She knew that Randis looked after the younger warriors but she had never really realised to what extent and that he took that duty so seriously.

"Good. When we get back, I need to speak with your parents so that I can begin those plans with their approval, and yours, of course!" He was grinning madly at her. "Do you think Calandor will be well enough in a year to Bond?" There was a hint of worry in his voice.

"I would think so." She knew what he was alluding to, the fit that had so suddenly taken Calandor in its grip. It still terrified her to think of it "I hope that the seizure will be the only one that he suffers."

The fear that there might have been more damage due to his heart stopping was not one that she really wanted to think about.

"Good, we do not want him to go through that again. How are you feeling?" Bright eyes turned to her. He would make certain that she remained happy and well while Calandor could not see to her himself.

"Me? I am well. I have feeling back in my legs and feet and my hands no longer tingle. I think that Gailarphen is happy with my recovery and the only reason I still remain here is because of Calandor. I will not leave him while he needs me." She admitted shyly.

"Good, that makes two of us. I can also keep an eye on Thranduil and Legolas. I am surprised that Bremoline has not been to see us." Randis was actually a little more than surprised. It bordered on horrified.

"Oh, I would not blame Captain Bremoline for that." This time Doroniel was laughing.

"What makes you say that?" Randis was curious. This should be good.

"Bremoline would not rest. While you slept, he still tried to remain on guard for Thranduil and Legolas. Linnathon got fed up with him and when his next meal was brought, he drugged the wine. From what I hear he is still asleep." She was grinning madly.

"No! And Bremoline fell for it! Amazing, I will be talking to him about this." Randis was stunned at this revelation.

"Yes, but he was exhausted and would not see sense." Doroniel was smiling fondly. "That makes it three times since we left Mirkwood that he has had to be given herbs surreptitiously to make him sleep. Maybe he will take the hint this time."

"I would love to see that, but I doubt it will ever happen." Randis shook his head in amusement, but then he suddenly turned deadly serious. His moods were as unpredictable as the weather, she knew. "I am glad that you and Calandor are recovering. I feared at one point that I would lose you both. Calandor is like the son that I never had and the thought that he would not be here…" He broke off shaking his head.

"I know, Randis, more than you realise." It was quote obvious at times. She could see the pride that shone in his eyes when he looked at Calandor.

"You are very perceptive." There was no displeasure in Randis' voice, just relief. "Of course that means that you are included when you are bonded. You will become my 'daughter' if that is alright?"

Doroniel smirked at him. "I thought I was like a sister to you? Now I am to become your daughter? You will have a complicated family."

Across the chamber Gailarphen was checking Irfan over. The human healer was asleep now, sleeping the sleep of the ill and truly exhausted.

Irfan's nausea had abated a while ago and he had fallen asleep instantly. His pulse was good and his breathing calmed. This was better. Gailarphen turned to Tarias.

"He is better now. He will recover." He smiled at the young ellon. "I have been most impressed with your conduct today. You are doing very well. You can be proud of what you have achieved today."

Tarias visibly straightened and stood taller, his confidence returning. His smile was hopeful. Gailarphen knew in that instant that Thranduil had been right.

Gailarphen realised how wrong he had been. He had been expecting Tarias to continue to act the way he had been while still influenced by the curse, or whatever had controlled him. But Tarias had not, now that he thought about it. Tarias had been acting just like the ellon that he knew of old, helpful, courteous and eager to learn, so eager to make this past mistake right, so eager to prove to them that he could be a good and trusted healer, but Gailarphen had not wanted to see that, all because he was still angry that Tarias had done things to his friends that he could not believe that a healer would ever do.

Gailarphen knew now that all that time Tarias was being controlled by the same evil that targeted Legolas and Thranduil. He could be a blinkered idiot at times, but he was clear-minded now. He understood. He would have to thank Thranduil for helping him to see Tarias clearly.

Despite the change in his stance, Tarias still sounded unsure. "I have?"

"Yes, Tarias, you have. You will continue to work with me for the rest of the week so that I can assess what we need to do to bring your training up to the level that it should be and then you can go back to working with your tutor, Thelion. I will say that I do not think that there will be much for you to catch up with. Not from what I have seen today. I am pleased with you." Gailarphen watched as confusion and then joy crossed Tarias' troubled features.

"I am glad, Master Healer Gailarphen. I try hard to do as you direct, to please you." There was a mixture of both anxiety and determination in his voice.

"I know, but relax, let it come naturally. I promise that you will make a fine healer that we will all be proud of." He was certain of that now. Whatever had happened, it had not been Tarias' fault.

"I will try." There was promise in Tarias' voice. "What should I do now, Master Healer?"

Gailarphen looked up to trace the sun as she rose in the sky. "Well, now that we have Irfan comfortable and resting, I think you should go and have your midday meal. When you get back I will trust you to watch Irfan, to let me know when he wakes."

"Tarias nodded and with a small respectful bow, he left the chamber, a proud stance back for all to see. He was trusted once more.

Thranduil waited until the door had closed behind him before speaking. "That was a very nice thing to do."

Gailarphen wryly shook his head. "No, mellon nin, it was the right thing to do."

"Oh?" There was open amusement in Thranduil's voice.

"You were right. He was trying too hard, trying to make amends for something that was not his fault. Hennad for making me see sense." Gailarphen spoke without embarrassment.

"Good, I do not wish to see someone who will make a wonderful healer lose it all for something that was not his fault to start with. There will be a place for him in Mirkwood should he ever wish to move." It was the only way that Thranduil could think of to show that he held no malice towards Tarias for what had happened.

"Hannon le, but that is far into the future and for now he should concentrate on learning all he can." Gailarphen gazed at Thranduil. "How do you feel? Has Legolas been alright?"

"I feel much improved. Legolas is alright. He is sleeping." His arms were full of warm sleeping elfling. "It has been a busy day for him with one thing and another."

Gailarphen's smile was fond as he looked down at the sleeping Prince, his colour was much better and he seemed more content. He was also sucking his thumb quite happily.

"Good, the sleep will aid him. It is almost time for your meal, but I know that Legolas would prefer the creamy porridge!" He was teasing and they all knew it.

"Yes, he would. I am not sure that I will ever get him to eat anything else now." There was affection in his voice.

"Good, he needs the nourishment and the milk will help him more than he understands right now, so I would not worry, as long as he is eating." Gailarphen was pleased that Legolas was showing interest in food once more.

"I am glad for that." Thranduil gazed worriedly at his son.

"What is it?" Gailarphen had picked up on his unease.

"Should Legolas be sucking his thumb like that? I know when he was so ill it was a different matter, but now?" Thranduil could not help the fear that still lingered that all was not well with his son.

"He is still recovering. You know he had a bad nightmare last night. He needs the comfort. I am sure that as he recovers, he will soon put it behind him. Say nothing to make him conscious of it or it could be worse." Gailarphen was sure that Legolas would forget as he recovered.

"You think so?" Worried blue eyes met his.

"Aye, I do think so." He reached down to brush the re-growing hair back from the still hot forehead. Not as hot as it had been before but enough to tell him that Legolas had a small fever.

"Helf elf." Legolas murmured around his thumb.

Thranduil grinned madly at that. "Helf elf? Where, by Elbereth, did he get that?"

Gailarphen shook his head, laughing silently, his eyes sparkling in the sunshine. "I have no idea."

"I will have to ask him when he wakens." Thranduil looked at his son fondly.

"I need to check on Nestoron. You will be alright for the time being?" Gailarphen was pleased to see the worry had eased from Thranduil's face.

"Aye, we will be alright. Will Legolas be able to go outside this evening?" Thranduil knew that his son wanted nothing more than that.

"I think so. He has not had any more fits or attacks. I do not foresee any problem." Gailarphen was relieved that Legolas was showing interest in the world once more.

"Good, I will say nothing until this evening." Thranduil did not want Legolas to get too excited.

"That is good thinking. Call should you need anything." Gailarphen then moved off to Nestoron, stopping beside Elrond to make sure that he was alright and happy.


It was mid afternoon and Thranduil had just woken from an unexpected sleep when the door opened and Captain Bremoline entered looking quite embarrassed.

Thranduil was pleased to see him. "It is good to see you looking so well and refreshed, mellon nin."

"I should, I have slept more in the last two days than I have in years." Bremoline complained, although he did feel better. The sleep had done him some good and he was bright-eyed once more. "How are you and Legolas?" He sat down on a chair beside Thranduil's bed.

"We are both recovering nicely, hennad. You slept well?" Thranduil had to ask. He knew that Bremoline had been given sleeping herbs.

"You knew?" Bremoline was surprised.

"Not until after the fact." Thranduil smiled at Bremoline's incredulous tone.

"I see." Then Bremoline smiled. "I do feel better for the rest."

"Good you needed it." Thranduil sighed. "How do the rest of our wounded fare?" it was time to resume his role of King and leader once more.

"They are recovering nicely. The rest is doing them good. I will see then all later and make sure they are caring for their horses." Bremoline knew they would be but it was one of his duties to make certain that they were.

"Good and you will continue to rest?" Thranduil knew his friend of old. If there was work or a threat he would never rest.

"I will rest." Bremoline agreed.

Randis' cheeky voice piped up from across the room. "Good or they will dose you again."

Bremoline could only laugh at that.

Linnathon came over. He had just come on duty and was checking all the patients. "How are you all feeling?" He was pleased to see and hear the laughter.

"We are doing well, mellon nin. You slept well?" Thranduil had to ask the healer. He knew some of them had been pushing themselves as well.

"Aye, very well. I was tired." He smiled at the King. "How is Legolas?"

"Sleeping. I am sure that he will wake soon." Actually he could already feel him beginning to stir.

"Good, I will arrange some food. You have no pain?"

"No pain at all." The other three patients also agreed with him and Linnathon moved on, satisfied.

When Linnathon paused to see Elrond, Elladan and Elrohir sat beside him, with Glorfindel hovering close to the bedside

"How are you feeling now, Elrond?" Linnathon watched him with interest, aware that Elrond still looked a little pale and drawn.

"I am well." Elrond's response was typical, but Linnathon could hear an underlying note of pain.

"You are in pain?" It was more of a statement rather than a question.

"Just a little." Elrond would not meet his eyes.

"Let me look at your hand." Linnathon gently caught Elrond's right hand and began to undo the bandages that covered the appendage.

"Ada?" Elladan saw the wince that crossed his father's face when the healer took his hand.

"All will be well." Elrond tried to reassure, but it was spoken through gritted teeth.

"I will be the judge of that." Just like a healer, wanting to make his own diagnosis!

That effectively shut Elrond up as Linnathon removed the old burn paste. Once that was done he examined the hand carefully. It looked raw and sore but he could not see any sign of infection in it.

"You have been using your hand?" Linnathon sought the reason why Elrond's hand, that had been healing nicely, should suddenly start to hurt.

"Not very much." Elrond winced as Linnathon touched a particularly sore spot.

"Ada! You know that is not true. You have been using it a lot!" Elrohir could not believe his father had just said that.

"I am not using it much!" Elrond sounded downright belligerent. It was evident he was cranky.

"Feeding yourself, trying to turn the pages of your book because you do not wish to bother us." Elladan was counting on his fingers. "I caught you trying to braid your hair earlier."

"Alright, I am trying to use my hand. I do not wish it to get too stiff." Elrond tried to explain.

"All good and well, but the hand should be allowed to heal fully before you start doing that. See here? There are small cracks in the creases from where you have split the new skin. No wonder it is painful." Linnathon could only shake his head.

"That is the reason it hurts?" Elrond's voice sounded surprised and it showed on his face. Even the best healer in Middle-earth could be a terrible patient.

"I believe so, although I want Gailarphen to take a look at your hand when he returns from his meal." Linnathon applied a small covering of the herbal burn cream and then set about making the bandages so big and bulky that Elrond could not bend or use the hand. That way he could be sure there was no more damage done.

Once he had finished, Linnathon turned to look at Elrond. "I will make you some tea for the pain. Is there anything else I should know about?"

"No." It was relieved admission.

"You have no other pain in any of your burns? Your eyes are alright, no pain, no blurring or double vision?" Linnathon would not let him go with this lightly.

"No, nothing like that. The only pain I feel is in my hand. You think the muscles may be contracting?" Elrond knew it was a good possibility in this kind of injury.

"I can see no evidence of that, but I want you to rest and let Gailarphen look at you. Let me get the tea for you." He turned to Elladan. "Watch your Ada. He is not to use that hand at all. Do I make myself clear to all of you?" Linnathon glared at them all.

Elladan and Elrohir indicated that they understood, even if their Ada was not very happy about it. At their nods, Linnathon moved away. Elrond was in the safest hands possible.

Once Elrond had taken the tea and was settled, Linnathon continued on his way. Nestoron was awake and settled. The pain in his back seemed to be easing. He was pleased to say that he had some feeling coming back in his legs. It was looking more and more as if he would recover from this and get back onto his feet, but how well he would recover and if he would ever return to healing was another matter.

As Nestoron had grown stronger, so had Faelien, her glow had brightened and her face held more colour. Linnathon was pleased to see that. With quiet words of praise and encouragement to the couple, he continued down the line of beds to Irfan, only to find the human awake and staring up at the windows in fear.

Linnathon followed his line of sight. The huge heads that they had all become used to seeing, watching them… rather watching Legolas, were not there. Linnathon sighed. Could the human be that scared of the Eagles? There only intent was to help and not harm.

"They will not harm you. They carried Aran Thranduil and Caun Legolas here. The eagles wish only to help." He tried to reassure Irfan.

"They are meat-eaters and will eat anything. Nothing you can say will make me think otherwise." Irfan insisted stubbornly.

"Very well. How are you feeling?" Linnathon would not push him. He would not force him to see something that he did not want to believe.

"I am hungry." That surprised Irfan as well. How could he be this hungry when he had been so ill earlier?

"I will get you some soup or broth." Linnathon was pleased that the adan had recovered so well.

"Soup!" Irfan could not believe his ears. Soup or broth, which was all they would give him?

"Yes, Irfan, soup, for tonight at least. You can have something more substantial in the morning. Your stomach may not be able to take it if you try anything more tonight. Do you understand?" Linnathon would not give ground on this.

Irfan's face held a stubborn pout. "I understand." It was said with sullen reluctance.

"Good, I am not underestimating the delicate state of your stomach. You had a very lucky escape, luckier than you may realise. If not for the fast reaction of your guards and Creaslow's aid you would not be here with us. If you try to eat more than the soup tonight you will be ill and you definitely cannot have wine. That would be far too much at present. I will allow you to go for a brief walk this evening before you sleep. The fresh air will do you some good, but only around the healing wing and no further." Linnathon knew he was laying down the law, but he had to make Irfan see sense.

Irfan had no intention of going any further than that anyway. If he had his way he would not even go that far! He had walked more today than he had in decades. As for the wine… Even as he thought of the ruby-red liquid his stomach cramped. Well, perhaps he would accept that it would not be wise for this evening.

"I will do as you say." He reluctantly said, his expression still sour with disappointment.

"Good. You may go and get dressed if you feel up to it. There is no reason for you to be lounging about in bed." It was not said unkindly by Linnathon, he was simply stating the truth.

He stood and made his way to the other side of the chamber. All of Linnathon's patients were resting easily and recovering. All was well for now, even if he was worried about Elrond's hand.


To be continued…

There we go chapter 18. We hope you like it? Please let us know how we are doing and if you are still enjoying it?

More soon, as soon as Barb, Dear Barb betas it as it is finished!