Title: Single Handedly
Genre: Romance, Angst
Time: First Age 346 – Fourth Age
Chapter Summary: "She does not deserve such a horrendous end; she deserves no end at all."
Author: Codi Lyn (a.k.a. i_luv_obiwan91)
Disclaimer: J.R.R. Tolkien and his family are the sole owners of his works including the Silmarillion and his Lord of the Rings series. I'm just inspired by his works and thought of different ways for different things to end as another option. It's his music; I'm just playing it on a ukulele, not a guitar. ಠ_ ಠChapter One – I Wonder How You Can Endure
Her rides out of Menegroth and away from her family had grown longer in both distance and duration in the last few decades, and she felt she enjoyed it more than much of anything else in her several short centuries of life. It was not so much the solitude of her and her horse as it was the freedom to hunt her own game and tend her own life without the walls of Menegroth, as beautiful as the caves were, towering above her. Trees were far more to Mîrluiniel's liking when it came to anything towering over her head. Free-roaming brooks and streams below her, the self-sufficiency of keeping her own horse and wearing leather garments sewn of her own catch. It satisfied her.
She would laugh when she remembered her second brother's hurried reasons to keep her in Doriath with them. 'Luin,' Celeborn had pleaded with her, 'There are trees and streams enough here to satisfy every elf in Arda! Why must you crave something so dangerous?'
Yet now Mîrluiniel wished she had one of her brothers at her side as she sprinted through the foreboding trees of Nan Elmoth for her life. Wolves farther west than she'd thought to be prepared for had sprung upon her horse that morning as she washed her clothes some distance away, renting the poor creature to pieces before they charged after her in their starved madness. A slow drizzle made her normally surefooted stride catch in some slippy mud on the path and only the slightest trip gave her rabid pursuers the lead they needed to pounce.
She turned around on her back just as the first wolf leapt up and latched its open maw onto the left hand she'd raised in defense. With a hasty prayer, she shrieked in surprised horror as two more wild dogs came down on her with every ounce of power they possessed, crushing the air from her lungs and some ribs judging by the crack and sharp pain in her breast. They jerked on her mercilessly and clawed, biting at the thick hide of her deerskin trousers and ripping the pelt at its seems as they tried to tear the tender flesh of her thighs until her frantic kicks finally bashed them away.
She punched and lashed out with all of her might at all three of them, but to the leader with the vice of sharp teeth sunken into her arm, it served only to tighten and add strength to his dreadful clamp on her. "Help! Help me!" Mîrluiniel screamed between cries of pain, yet she knew no answer would return to her. Not when she was so far from Doriath, and on the southern side of the Celon, no less. She cried more with despair once it came to her that she would be killed and eaten, away from home and family… she would die alone.
Her legs stopped their onslaught against the two younger wolves in exhausted defeat, and with a brief spat with each other- no doubt over which of them could be the first at her throat- they sprung upon her with a new, raw energy. One took hold of her left side from below the arm and the other moved toward her head with its foaming mouth when suddenly another beast lunged and took him by the neck.
This new creature was no wolf but a hound, and the greatest in size she had ever seen, like to a seasoned buck in height. At first glance she was afraid that an even larger enemy was simply fighting over who could consume the majority of her body; but this massive dog only held death in his eyes for her attackers and he seemed an animal trained to obey his owner before aught else.
"Huan!" An elf's voice came upon her desperate ears and, wearily, she struggled against the two starving wolves that still held to her body. Their leader, who had not released her bloody arm up to that point, let loose momentarily to growl and bark at the new come elf she assumed stayed behind her sight. An arrow shot into the sallow creature's shoulder, yet it only served to anger it and he bit down on her unmoved arm even higher and with a fresh vigor that jerked her entire frame with agonizing motions. "Huan! Remove, attack these!" The edhel mounted on a nervous horse commanded his hound to disregard his now defeated prey and move on to help the elleth in two death grips. Another arrow was shot into the second wolf's neck and it released its meat to fall heavy and limp atop her broken bones.
The great dog, Huan, quickly moved to take the remaining wolf down and clamped his large jaws on the neck of its opponent. But the wolf's grip was strong and with every push and pull the dog made on him, it dragged Mîrluiniel's body with it, promising to tear her shoulder clear from its socket.
At length, and with two more arrows shot into the beast's gaunt neck, Huan dragged the dying creature away from her and the elf was by her side in but a moment. He pulled the wolf carcass from her chest and Mîrluiniel took in a ragged breath, the adrenaline that had previously numbed her from some small amount of pain quickly drained and a wave of nausea overcame her with such loss of blood. "Lie still, lass. You'll do well to let me take care of you." With a weak nod, she agreed and struggled greatly just to inhale without stressing her broken ribs and the massive wounds on her left side. The elf was learned in his movements as he took his cloak quickly to pieces, beginning to wrap her flesh wounds and she thanked Illúvatar that he and his hound had come when they did.
She cried out when he moved her shredded arm to lie against her chest in a sling, then again as he lifted her from the ground and placed her atop his steed. The horse was antsy about its new passenger but, with only a few calming words from its master, instantly quieted and allowed her on easily. Mîrluiniel tried to sit upright but only gave herself more pain in the process and hunched over the poor animal under her in defeat. The edhel mounted up behind his elleth charge and put his arm around her waist to keep her from falling, letting out a whistle for Huan before he nudged the horse into an agile gallop through the close trees.
Pulling Mîrluiniel against him in the saddle, he let her rest her head on his shoulder, controlling his body's movements as best he could so it wouldn't jar her overmuch. It would be at least a few hours' ride back to his dwelling in Himlad on the northern side of the river. He prayed her bleeding would soon ebb; else there was little chance she'd make it outside of an hour, if that. Eru knew he had seen more blood spilt in his lifetime than anyone ever should, he would not let this elleth fade if he could help it.
They continued swiftly through the forest and crossed the river as late summer rain clouds threatened to pour forth their contents. Mîrluiniel had grown alarmingly pale and her rescuer knew there was little, if any, time left to close her wounds and save the majority of her blood.
Huan ran ahead into his master's great encampment and alerted the elves to the urgency of their coming. Ignoring all calls of inquiry but from a certain two who shared the same anxious look that stained his own expression as they saw the bloody she-elf in his grasp, the edhel rode through till he reached his tent and then dismounted. The two he had acknowledged at his arrival followed him quickly as he carried her into his chambers and laid the battered and unconscious elleth on his mattress.
"Celegorm, what's happened?" The tallest of them inquired of his brother as he came to the end of the bed.
The maiden's rescuer simply looked to the younger of the brothers and hastily gave instruction. "Curufin, run and fetch hot water, clean cloth, and stitching for her." With a nod to his elder sibling, the light brown-haired elf ran out of the tent with his orders.
The oldest, Maedhros, came close and asked him again with a glance to the she-elf in question. "My brother, what happened to her?"
Celegorm looked up to him after a moment and handed him the cloak fragments he just unwrapped from her shoulder and arm. "Huan ran ahead of me barking on the hunt, though what he pursued, I knew not. Nor did I understand the reason for his haste until I saw for myself. When I came upon her, there were two wolves with her in their mouths while Huan, bless him, held off another that surely would have killed her the moment we arrived."
He nodded as his brother told him the truth and the eldest grit his teeth when the pieces of the elleth's left arm were revealed from their cover of broken fabric. "How long has she been thus?"
"Three hours, at least. By Eru's grace she's only just alive."
Curufin, their father's fifth son, then re-entered with the things asked for, including a much-needed basket of pain-dulling herbs. "Shall I help you, Cel? You'll need my needle-skills, that's certain." The younger edhel offered and was gladly accepted as Celegorm began to lay her arm on the mattress in relatively coherent placement.
Mîrluiniel opened her eyes briefly at the pain of movement but only managed a quiet moan when the eldest touched her brow. "Do we know who she is? Her name?" Maedhros asked his blonde brother while he continued to clean her shoulder efficiently.
The younger shook his head. "I'm afraid she was too weak to speak, let alone tell me. And I found it not to be of great import at the time."
Maedhros gazed long on the poor elleth and tried to guess her homeland. Her fair hair was nearly white in hue, where blood did not smear the curls, and light blue eyes when she revealed them for an unconscious moment; all attributes which certainly hinted at a Sindarin bloodline. 'What could she have been doing alone?' He wondered to himself, knowing full well that if he had, himself, been blessed with a sister she would never have left his care without a brother or escort to accompany her. 'Yet even Aredhel became lost in your care…' His thoughts scolded him, and he turned away from his brothers and their new female charge." Send for me if she worsens." He called behind him as he left the tent and walked out into the steady rain that the sky now cast down upon the land.
Once he looked up, it felt cleansing to wash over such a troubled expression like the one upon his angled face, yet in his right arm he could feel a tense pressure cause him pain there where hand would be connected to wrist. Ever since his dread-filled rescue from Thangorodrim, the stump of an arm he claimed as his right appendage would flush and throb with a stabbing pain when much moisture came to it. He laughed bitterly to think that Ulmo delighted in this way of torturing him for the heinous acts he'd committed in his life.
He deserved it, he knew, for all the terrible things that he'd done. Only on this day did the physical pain seem to cause less discomfort. Huan sat just inside the cover flap of a nearby tent and watched the Noldorin prince in silence as he stood brooding in the rain. The hound had a good feeling about this elleth maiden now under the master's care, and sensed that she may be a blessing for these 'dispossessed' sons of Fëanor.
Maedhros caught the dog's eye and smiled, beckoning the massive canine over to him as he turned away from the campground to take a breather. Trotting over, Huan was greeted with a pat on his withers and together they made their way to the bank of the flooding Celon, walking parallel to the swift current as the elf began to order his thoughts. "That child, I've seen her before… She seems familiar." He voiced aloud to himself though Huan paid mild attention. "Where did she come from? Doriath? An elf of theirs wouldn't let a single deer out of their realm unless it was already strapped upon their backs. Surely she was not living in Nan Elmoth, would not Eöl have found her even before the wolves?" He sighed with a hand through damp hair. "I don't know… she must need awaken to tell us anything about herself. Yet even then, what to do with her? We will be blamed for who knows what along with kidnapping once we returned her to her people… I know not; most importantly she must first survive her injuries." Huan stopped them and turned about with ears alert, causing Maedhros to pay attention as well. In the distance back at camp he could see Curufin waving his arms, calling his brother to come back. "Blast."
Curufin came back into the tent and shook off the excess rainwater that had collected on his clothes. Celegorm was just finishing the stitches on a lesser gash at the lass' side and quickly snipped the thread so that he could wash his bloodied hands.
"What are you going to tell him?" The younger approached him as Celegorm shook dry his hands from the washbasin.
He raised an eyebrow before his went to check his work on her recently closed wounds. "I'm not telling him anything… you are, my brother." Curufin frowned and shook his head vehemently, but his brother approached him. "I know how Maedhros will act and he will be more lenient with you."
"Celegorm, no! There is not even the possibility of my telling him on my own. He will swallow me whole!" At that moment Maedhros came soaking into the well-furnished tent and looked from the two of them to the elven woman on the bed. Celegorm looked to the other edhel pointedly and Curufin spoke quietly to him. "You had better have my back on this, Cel."
"What's the matter? Has she worsened?" Maedhros grilled them.
With a breath for courage, the youngest brother stepped forward. "I'm afraid she's much worse, we… Maedhros, it's imperative we remove her lower left arm completely." He held his breath in anticipation of a curse or strike, but neither were delivered.
Just silence and the deadliest glare his eldest brother had ever bestowed to him in all his years. "Do you find me laughing, Curufin?"
Celegorm then stepped forward calmly and defended his brother's statement, knowing it had truly been his solution to begin with. "This is no jest, I promise you, Maedhros. Her arm is in tatters if you would just look. If I stitch the shreds together again there is little chance the nerves will mend and more than likely infection will be the only thing to set."
The eldest took an aggressive step forward and glared at his brother and what he was proposing. "You will not remove that arm." The command was ground out between clenched teeth and a set jaw before daggers were shot at both younger elves through rage-filled green eyes.
As he turned to exit the tent through the way he had come, Celegorm took another step forward and called out. "Maedhros!" The red-haired brother stopped, but did not turn. "It's that arm that will be the death of her!" The brothers watched their father's firstborn straighten to his impressive full height as he inhaled but only pushed the tent flap away in anger, storming out into the dreary day.
Curufin at last let out the breath he'd held too long and sat on the end of his brother's bed in resignation. Looking again to Celegorm, who stood bleakly with hands on his hips, he inquired as to what would be done.
The older of the two stepped back over to the she-elf injured on his bed and caringly wiped sweat from the lady's brow and temple. He knew very well Maedhros' objections to the amputation, besides the obvious reminders of his own torture and rescue, for he had himself thought of every reason not to take the limb from her. Yet for him it seemed that life was far more worth saving than fears of political negativity or overall rumors. His brother knew that once they removed her arm and she came to, not only could she be furious and likely hold it forever against them, but whoever they eventually returned her to would be livid, possibly with assumptions of her kidnapping and sick torture to 'submit' her to the same fate as the eldest of Fëanor's cursed sons.
"Cel? What are we to do?" Curufin asked once more and Celegorm sighed.
Much as he knew what had to be done, he respected Maedhros and understood his predicament. He would wait out as long as possible. "Help me wrap her arm, Curu. We'll see how long we can obey."
Maedhros took little rest that night for the turmoil his mind kept him in over such a decision. How could they think of putting someone, a maiden no less, under such agonies that he had once been forced to suffer through? It was unpardonable, and he couldn't even fathom the reactions of whosever people she belonged to. The sons of Fëanor did not need any more encouragement for their brethren to all but despise them.
At length he peeled off his wet clothing and filled for himself a hot bath. His eyes shut tightly and he gasped in the shock of such heat against his cold flesh. It had been well over three centuries since his capture at Morgoth's hands and still the scars caused him more than sufficient pain at every opportunity. His wounds went far deeper than he cared to admit, especially not to anyone besides perhaps his brother Maglor, and to him barely at all. The eldest of his younger brothers had the fortitude not to ask many questions and because of it, knew more than most. All of Maedhros' secrets could be well kept in his closest brother's care.
Finally, the deeply flame-haired edhel removed from the scorching water, finding it little to no help at all, and girded himself in a pair of drawstring linen trousers. Standing at the entry of his temporary canvas home, he thought of Maglor still at his fort in Himring. With a faint smile, Maedhros thought of the counsel he surely would be given in such a situation. 'Save her life, Russandol.' Using the old family name of 'copper-top' to loosen him up. 'Valar knows you could use a woman in your life to take care of you.' He would say, no doubt nudge him in the ribs once or twice about how he knew his weakness for a head of curls and a fair gaze.
"No Kano, as fair as this elleth may be… you know I will not. I cannot." Maedhros murmured into the rain and wind, confident that none but the Valar could hear him, and what else could they do? His thoughts drifted to the image he saw of her when Celegorm had first ridden into their camp. Her head lay back upon his brother's shoulder and pale blonde hair bounced in near ringlets around her, tightened only by the damp air and humidity of rain brewing in the late summer month. Even her name escaped him; he knew so little of her, yet some unknown connections made him want to say he had met her before.
Quite suddenly a name came up in his mind along with a memory and face to accompany it… He had been at Fingolfin's Feast of Reuniting that was attended long ago with Maglor. She had come upon him during the brief respite he'd found from being in the midst of so vast a number of elves. She seemed very hesitant to speak or meet his gaze, like she was concealing something; and at length he assumed that she had been told not to attend because of her age, though she did not look to be very young in his eyes.
She had inquired if he was the Noldo called Maedhros and, bemused, he answered and asked also for her name, to which she looked around nervously then quietly told him was 'Kalin.' Eventually she had run off like a frightened deer when his brother at last came to him. She'd succeeded in brightening his mood that same hour, yet never did he see the maiden again during the festival. "Kalin." He tried the name aloud and smiled as he remembered that day so long ago. Yet his frown returned when he was reminded of her current condition. In frustration he threw on a jerkin and pulled his weathered cloak over broad shoulders, storming out of the tent he strode with purpose toward Celegorm's quarters.
The younger brother had turned the elleth so that her hair fell over the edge of the mattress and into a medium basin filled with sudsy warm water. Maedhros came in and tossed his dripping cape aside onto the grass, walking over to Celegorm to put his hand on his shoulder. Cel looked up to the eldest, wondering if, and hoping, that he had changed his mind, but still he saw his firmness in the decision.
"Celegorm, go and care for yourself. I shall stay with her a while." Without a word the younger edhel nodded and stood away from his charge, her still dangerously unconscious form lying upon the bed. The blonde elf left the tent and Maedhros took his former seat at her head, gently combing through her dirt and dried blood-ridden strands with wet fingers.
It'd been a long time since he had felt hair as soft as hers, and immediately he thought of his mother still in Aman. Nerdanal, bless her calming spirit, would let her first-born play with her ruddy brown tresses before sleep finally clamed him for a nap as an elfling. Her Maitimo, her 'well-shaped one,' had inherited his father's hair type: straight and coarse, from his mature years on; though of her family's reddish coloring traits, her son inherited all of its potency with his red-hot copper in youth (earning him the nick name of Russandol, 'copper top') grown to a rich blood-red with a bright flamed sheen upon entering adulthood. He hardly held his naneth's looks in the face like he used to as an innocent, and Maedhros knew he would never see that face again.
Looking back down to Kalin, as his mind now allowed him to call her, he was glad to see some color in her face once more, though the poor maiden seemed to barely be holding onto the vitality of life. He had to believe she would survive without the drastic 'solution' his brothers had conjured up. He prayed to any Vala who would hear him so that her life could be spared somehow. Yet in the discouraging corner of his mind, he knew not all prayers would be heeded as worthy, especially those coming from his lips.
The bandages around her left arm were stained with blood, both fresh and old, reminding him of less than fond visions he had been privy to in many a battle and even his own healing process after capture. 'She does not deserve such a horrendous end; she deserves no end at all. An elleth such as Kalin should live peacefully in her father's home until a suitor comes to court and bind to her, take care of her and their family together.' He thought, and knew he could lecture her for being alone in any forest or plain with no protection, yet he also knew all the facts surrounding her attack were anything but certain. Kalin looked as if there could be more than what met the eye, yet to his eyes there was an innocence and purity to her that he found an unusually strong desire within him to protect.
Gently Maedhros squeezed dry her hair with a nearby cloth and turned her head carefully to the side so that he could move the basin and situate her properly on the bed. With her head secure in the crook of his right arm and his left hand under the bend of her knees, he lifted Kalin and changed her position to fit more comfortably on the mattress, thoughtfully fixing the blankets upon her the correct way afterward.
The she-elf moaned very softly when he touched her bandaged side and her unconscious expression never lightened from a disturbed frown. Maedhros noticed her right hand begin to tremble along with her lower lip as if a chill had overcome her and yet when he brushed his wrist against her brow he felt nothing but clammy and burning skin. He held also her left arm, but not even a pulse trickled through the dislocated veins.
With a muttered curse, the eldest son looked out the open tent flap for his brothers in vain, certain that neither of them would be out in such weather. He glanced back at Kalin unknowingly struggling on the bed and, with a speed born of rigid training, Maedhros fled the canvas lodging and burst into a tent claimed not far away by Curufin. "Curu! Curufin, Kalin's developed a fever and she's starting to tremble. I need your help."
The younger brother looked on his dripping sibling with a puzzled expression, putting down his sleepy young son, he finally asked in a softer voice. "Be quieter, I will help, of course. But who are you talking about?"
The eldest simply grabbed him by the arm and explained as he dragged him to the tent entry. "Kalin, the maiden in Celegorm's quarters. Come, I think she's worsening."
Together they ran into said tent and Curufin quickly checked her forehead and pulse points on both wrists and neck. He shook his head. "This is not good. Her arm is not taking. Maedhros, fetch Celegorm."
But the eldest wanted answers. "What do you mean it's not taking?"
"Celegorm!" He interrupted urgently. "Go and get Celegorm, I need his aid. Now."
Maedhros set his jaw and turned to run back into the pouring rain in search of Celegorm. The edhel was taking his supper in a tent with several elves and stopped mid-bite upon seeing his brother burst inside. "Celegorm! It's her, you must come with me, now." Again, without a word, the younger followed his soaking and urgent leader back to his own dwelling and was angered upon seeing Kalin's exposed and discolored left arm. Curufin had unwrapped it to check her more thoroughly and the arm was all but dead in both appearance and reflexes.
Maedhros was pushed out of the way as Celegorm made his way to her side, alarmed, but hardly surprised with the way things were commencing. This was exactly what he had told him would happen if they did not remove the problem at its source. The infection was settling into her body now that the blood loss had weakened her immune system to next to nothing, and the extra baggage of a severed arm did nothing to make any of it better.
"Can I do anything to help?" Maedhros offered in the midst of his brothers' frenzied attempts to cool her temperature.
Quickly, Celegorm replied. "Let us do what needs doing… allow us to take the arm, it is the obstacle inhibiting any recovery!"
"No! I will not take back what I've ordered, her arm remains."
"Then she's going to fade." He stated simply.
"No. I refuse."
The younger grew irate. "This is not about what you want! Not everyone would rather die than lose a limb, Maedhros!"
"I am thinking of her! You know not the pain that accompanies such an act, both to your body and thought. It may very well be her death."
"Well this certainly shall be. Unless I take the arm, this will be her last night."
The eldest inhaled deeply but showed no signs of relenting. "No."
Kalin's trembling began to worsen and spread throughout her body while the blonde elf's stare hardened against his brother. "Be gone, then, Maedhros. You've done quite enough here." Celegorm spat out the dismissal and turned a cold shoulder as the red-haired Noldo scooped up his cloak from the ground and departed, trudging through the darkness and rain without any destination in mind.
"Will she last till dawn, do you think, Cel?" Curufin inquired not long after their eldest sibling left them with his forbidding command.
Wearily, the elder of the two rubbed the back of his hand over his face and finally locked his arms on the end of the bed as he leaned over it, mentally debating within himself. 'It has to be done, whether he wills it or not. We've already delayed overlong.' Celegorm looked to his brother with meaning and immediately Curufin understood. "Fetch me my knife, Curu."