Title: Enchain

Author: Pentangle

Warning: Child abuse. Torture.

Characters: Aragorn, Elrond, Twins, Erestor, Glorfindel

Italics: flashbacks

/thoughts/

Aragorn is nearly 16; follows the "Buried" series chronologically but there are only two brief references to the series.

Prologue

It had taken him a long time, even by elven standards, to make his way to what was called a paradise of peace and security in their fading world. First an Age as a Wanderer, then to Lorien for a time, and finally, long years at the Havens. All the while he dreamed of great and triumphant deeds, though he was certain he would never have the nerve to attempt them. Nonetheless, a desire to turn dreams to reality grew greater as each year slid past until he could think of little else. His days became haunted by the driving need and then his nights as well, until he felt that only one elf could help him find peace. So he went to Imladris.

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Elrond broke the seal and read the parchment that Cirdan had sent to him as a letter of introduction. He raised his eyes to the slight figure before him and observed him carefully. The elf was white-haired, but not like Lindir was; Lindir's hair glowed and swung, bouncing with its owner's vitality. This elf had grey-white hair that looked like it had never gleamed in its life. He was dressed in the ordinary tunic and leggings most appropriate for long journeys. They had probably once been red and russet but were now as dull and faded as his blue eyes. He was of medium height, but quite thin, and it was impossible to tell his age beyond noting that he was not young.

Elrond spoke gently, for somehow the elf seemed vulnerable. "Welcome to Imladris, Valendil. Cirdan says that of late years you do not sleep well and that the sea makes you restless but not with the Call. Have you thought of sailing anyway and finding ease in the Undying Lands?"

A voice with an unusual graininess answered him softly. "No, M'lord. There are things I must yet do before I find peace anywhere. I think I will be able to accomplish them here, if you will let me stay." No doubt Valendil was uncomfortable in the presence of a legend for he kept his eyes lowered for the most part. When he did look at Elrond, he drank in as much of the elf lord's appearance as his brief glances would allow. He was not sure what he felt—the ruler of Imladris was both like and unlike his expectations.

"We will find a place for you while you seek your peace. Have you any skills you would like to use while you are here?"

"Nay, M'Lord, but I will do whatever needs doing to show my gratitude for a new home. I can work hard, although I know I do not look like I can." A smile ghosted across his lips and disappeared.

"Do not think of such yet. First take some time to rest and refresh your spirit. Then it will be soon enough to find you something to do." Elrond's voice was kind but his eyes kept drifting off to the stacks of work on his desk.

The elf who stood before him saw the glances and murmured, "If someone will show me where I may stay, I will not take up more of your time, M'lord."

Relieved, Elrond rang the small silver bell on his desk. The door opened and the elf lord turned Valendil over to one of his messengers.

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There were no quarters in the Last Homely House that were not pleasant and more than adequate, especially by the standards of communities outside the hidden valley. But buildings being what they are, some rooms were preferred over others. Late at night, in one of the rooms that most considered less desirable, a single lamp with a blue flame flickered. At the small desk a figure hunched, lips moving as a quill rasped hesitatingly across a sheet of parchment. In a house full of beautiful hands that moved with grace, the one pushing the quill was marred. Slightly swollen joints and fingers not quite straight spoke of horrendous damage long ago—since the Firstborn heal well and quickly from most injuries. The fingers gripped the quill awkwardly and the hand was tired. Tired but driven.

He was mine, my only light,
The only star in forever night.
You—polluted, unworthy—The only ones less than I in so august a company,
Stole him from me.

Stole him from me.
Stole him from me.
Stole him from me.
Stole him from me.
Stole him from me.
Stole him from me.

The single line was repeated until it covered two pages.

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The fist connected with the side of his head, fracturing the newly healed cheekbone again. Why always the same place? Some day he might stop healing and then what would become of him? The young elf scuttled from the tent on all fours and heard the roar as his tormenter watched his prey escape. He had saved himself more pain now, but would pay dearly later. He must hide.

In his study, Erestor irritably set aside yet another parchment that could not be completed without additional statistics from the Chief Agrarian. Where was Valendil with the reports—he had been sent to fetch them an hour ago. In the doorway, a white-haired elf stood waiting, a sheaf of papers in his hands. A soft cough went unheard and had to be repeated twice before Erestor finally looked up and waved him in impatiently.

"Oh, there you are, Valendil. I did not see you."

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"Sing, boy! You heard me, SING!"

The voice he raised was sweet and true in pitch. Song was the last joy he had in life, now that THEY had come. He was tired, though, and wretchedly thirsty, tormented by the water that stood in a ewer upon the table. His dry throat caused his song to hitch and break its gentle flow. This time the hand did not make a fist until it had closed tightly around his throat. The hand squeezed the apple until it ruptured. "If you cannot sing properly, you will not sing at all!"

It would be a year before he could speak…or scream.

"Glorfindel, another galliard! Sing us another!"

"Nay, no more! I am parched and must try the new vintage. Ask someone else! Elrohir, or – " He looked around and spied an elf on the edge of the group clustered around him. He had to pause to recall the name. "Or…er…Valendil, here. I have never heard you sing, my friend. Will you indulge us?"

The white-haired elf backed slowly away toward the comforting shadows that hugged the walls of the Hall of Fire, saying huskily, "I do not sing, M'lord."

"What, never? Nonsense! All elves sing! You will find us an attentive audience." Glorfindel smiled warmly and coaxed, "Come, please sing for us."

The slightly grating voice was all that remained for its owner could no longer be seen. "I do not sing, M'lord."

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End Prologue

Next Chapter: "Erestor First"