Disclaimer: Why do I even bother typing this anymore. Nothing belongs to me, etc. etc.

A/N: I meant to wait until I had 5 reviews, but you convinced me otherwise… well, thank you very much, Nemis, Galahan and Ada Kensington! Like I said, the nice reviews make it worth it to continue writing this! Please, does *anyone* know where Gil-galad lived near the end of the First Age? Anyone? I really *hate* inventing things, but I guess I'll have to.


Suddenly the monster stopped, sword falling from its hand. It stood for a moment, staring stupidly, then collapsed to the ground. There was a dagger in its back.

"Are you all right, little one?" The voice belonged to a tall elf, dressed in armor. Sunlight glinted off hair the color of molten gold, and bright green eyes narrowed in concern. Elrond nodded, too shocked to speak. He found that his eyes kept returning to the dead creature in front of him – blood seeping out of the wound, mingling with the blood that was already pooling on the ground, soaking his boots…

"Come then, little one. This is no place for a child to be." The warrior walked forward towards Elrond, but the half-elf just stood and stared.

There was a soft whimper, and Elros peeked out from behind his brother. This prompted a reaction – Elrond grasped his younger brother's hand and pushed himself between Elros and the strange elf, glaring protectively.

"Calm down. I'm not going to hurt you." Now the stranger's deep voice sounded amused. "I was on my way to the Halls of Healing, would you come with me? Like I said, this is no place for a child to be," he added, glancing at Elros. The message was obvious: 'your brother isn't safe here, get him back – then you can break down.'

Elrond bit his lip and nodded again. "I'm… I'm coming," he said, voice sounding weak. He stepped around the corpse on the ground, shuddering as he did so. Elros winced slightly as his brother's grip on his hand tightened, and Elrond looked at him remorsefully. "Sorry," he whispered.

"Come then, little ones," the stranger said again. He turned and strode down the street, Elrond nearly running to keep up. Turning his head to look at the two running half-elves, he sighed. "I am sorry for rushing you so, but we have to hurry, we would not want to meet any orcs now." Elrond gasped. "Those were orcs?" He'd read a lot about the orcs – twisted elves, changed by Morgoth, turned to evil… but somehow he'd never imagined that they could change *this much*. The thought that he'd very nearly killed his own kindred sickened him, and he could hardly keep himself from retching.

"Yes, those were orcs." The warrior looked at Elrond with a frown, and the young half-elf felt a burst of shame. 'He's probably a great hero, killed hundreds of enemies that threatened our people. You can't even take care of one orc – you're pathetic, Elrond. Gil-galad will be so disappointed. So much for all the heroic tales you tell, you're hopeless.' Self-anger filled him almost to the bursting point.

The warrior interrupted his thoughts. "Don't be so hard on yourself, little one. You fought very well for one so young, and… well… not everyone is cut out to be a killer. It is probably a better way, the way of the healer, the scholar." He smiled at Elrond's stunned expression. "In case you are wondering, I cannot read your thoughts, but I do not need to when they are written so plainly on your face." Elrond felt his cheeks flushing with embarassment.

"But… why? Why can some people kill, and some not?" Elrond asked. It didn't make sense to the young half-elf. Why couldn't he thrust a sword through a monster's heart – he shuddered, feeling ill at the very thought – yet most elves he knew had no problems with it?

The strange adult sighed. "I do not know. Perhaps it is the way we were born, or perhaps what was forced upon us in our childhood. But, I repeat – stay on the path of the healer, little one. It is a better one. Although sometimes even healers are forced to take up swords…" He shrugged hopelessly, then hissed in pain.

"You're hurt," Elrond said, feeling ashamed that he hadn't noticed so before. Looking more closely, he saw that the warrior's right arm hung limply at his side, and that blood soaked his shirt.

"Aye, that I am. Wasn't careful enough, an orc hit me. Strange that I should be talking so philosophically of healers while I am looking for one out of purely practical reasons," he said, laughing slightly. Elrond could tell that it was forced, and that the elf was in pain. He opened his mouth to say something, but was interrupted.

"Ah. Here we are," the elf said, pointing at a large building. Elrond looked around – this was a part of the city he recognized, near the palace. He nodded gratefully at the stranger. "Thank you, sir."

"Think nothing of it, young one. We were lucky not to encounter any orcs – perhaps they have not gotten this far into the city yet. The people fight well, and were driving the enemies back when I had to leave on account of my wound." He frowned, voice filled with self-anger. "I can hardly believe that I was so careless I did not see that slash coming."

Elrond tugged at his sleeve. "Everyone makes mistakes… luckily yours was not grave and you are still alive." The elf smiled. "Thank you very much, little one. Let's go in."

The three figures entered the Halls of Healing.


A/N: No, it's not done yet! Chapter 3 coming soon, depending on how many reviews I get (hint, hint). Guess who the strange elf is…