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Thicker than Blood: 11. Surgery
that had grown from elven fingers was fading, melting into Frodo’s body from
each elven hand. His trembling
eased but he still wept and his face was still twisted in pain.
Elrond’s firm, clear voice joined his companions and the welling song
strengthened and grew, filling the room even more with a palpable presence of
power. A great fight had begun
within the body of this one small hobbit and Sam hoped that the hobbit in
question would not be torn apart in the process.
Elrond grasped the front of Frodo’s thin tunic and ripped it down,
baring his pale, wasted torso and the bandaged shoulder.
The bandage was dark with blood again, the same viscous stuff that had
poured from the wound when first reopened.
Elrond frowned and placed both hands back on Frodo’s pale breast,
forcing the elven song past his clenched lips with an obvious effort.
The door to the room opened again and the elf that had left returned
bearing the tray of knives. Strider
and Gandalf followed him and the room, with its heavy, power-laden feel, grew
close as the fair crowd gathered. Gandalf,
staff in hand, took up a position by the head of Frodo’s bed, opposite where
Elrond sat and stood defensively by his small friend.
His face was hardened and it looked to Sam as if he were prepared to do
battle. Strider came to
Elrond’s side, glancing once with great pity upon the cluster of terrified
hobbits behind him, before taking up his position near the bedside table;
directly, Sam noted, between the box that held the ring and Frodo.
quick nod, Elrond indicated to the elf with the tray that he should place the
knives on the bed stand and then snatched up a blade from the glittering
array. He sliced through the now
soaked bandages and flung them away from the swollen wound to fall to the
floor with a sickening splat. Frodo
was bleeding again, profusely, but this time, Elrond did not even hesitate to
slip his slim fingers inside the cut. He
pushed at the tissues, ripping new bonds of flesh that had begun to form at
the edges of the wound, and worked his slow way inside Frodo’s body.
Sam noticed, with sickened revulsion, the surface of Frodo’s skin
begin to swell and move as Elrond forced muscle and bone aside to reach inside
the cavity. The shoulder and
breast rolled like a sack that held some vile living thing inside it.
Sam felt ill.
is here.” Elrond pushed again,
deeper and Frodo choked on a ragged indrawn breath.
He gurgled and coughed sending forth a fine spray of blood from his
mouth. The fair-haired elf that
held the hobbit’s head still gasped and his eyes looked about wildly,
unseeing, his bright face taking on a sudden expression of terror.
He gasped in a small voice that did not seem to suit him.
Sam thought the words sounded astonishingly like his master’s voice.
“The cold is here. I
can’t hold it back! It’s come
for me!” The elf grimaced;
then, seeming to come to grips with himself again, shook his head and focused. “Hurry, my lord.” he told Elrond using his own clear
grunted and pushed his hand deeper into Frodo’s body, using his own fingers
and brute strength to thrust aside Frodo’s ribs.
There, just inside a space between two of them, his fingers at last
felt the cold, hardness of the blade tip.
It wriggled at his fingertips like a living thing as it tried to burrow
deeper into Frodo’s body. One
more push… Frodo’s body
rolled sickeningly to the side as Elrond shoved harder, but at last the elf
lord seemed to have gotten hold of it. The
coldness of the tiny sliver was agony to Elrond’s bare hand, but he did not
let go. He pulled back and felt the thing move with him.
It was coming, though it burned with aching, bitter cold.
Slowly, so as not to lose it, Elrond withdrew his hand, the Morgul
shard gripped tightly between his blood covered forefingers.
Frodo’s wound gave a nauseating, sucking sound as the hand came forth
and Elrond held up the deadly sliver.
it burned with cold, it smoked and Elrond dropped it onto the platter that
another elf held forth. His hands
and clothing were smeared with blood but he did not pause to wipe them. He focused all his will on the dark blade tip.
A pool of light began to grow about the platter and the tiny thing
smoked even more. The singing
that had not stopped through the whole ordeal swelled strongly from the many
elven throats present and the golden light flared bright.
Sam found it too strong to look at and he turned away, but in the next
instant, the light was gone, and with it, the sliver, leaving only a wisp of
smoke hanging in the air. Elrond
sagged, slipping from the edge of the bed to sit heavily on the floor.
Sam looked to his master.
no longer trembled, in fact, he no longer moved at all.
His face had gone ashen white again and his mouth gaped sickeningly.
Flecks of red spattered his pale lips and still crescents of bright
blue could be seen beneath his half closed lids.
The open wound, finally bleeding something the color of normal blood,
made stark contrast against his white skin and Sam couldn’t suppress the
impression that he was looking at a husk, the empty shell of something whose
spark had fled. A blaze of fury
erupted in Sam’s stout heart and he rushed to Elrond, grasping the front of
the weary elf’s tunic.
you brute, you save my master!” He
felt Strider’s arm across his chest as the ranger pulled him back, but
Elrond, startled out his near swoon, looked up at the hobbit and nodded.
will…” the elf lord gasped and stood, shakily, but unassisted. Sam was pushed back to where the other hobbits clustered and
Pippin gripped his arm tightly. Merry
had his arm around Bilbo’s shoulders and looked as if he were all that was
keeping the old hobbit on his feet. One
of the other elves, reached out and touched Elrond’s shoulder supportively
and the elf lord nodded. “We
must.” he continued and placed his bloodied hand over the gaping hole in
the shard had melted, the tone of the ever-present elven song had changed.
It became at once more joyous and exuberant though it’s power
remained. Elrond’s voice joined
the song again, though it quavered with fatigue.
White light blazed instantly under the elf lord’s hand now that there
was no embattling dark to hinder it, and Sam saw the blood slow and the great
dark rend in Frodo’s shoulder begin to fuse.
How long it took, Sam could not have told, for he stared at the process
with wide-eyed wonder. This was high elf magic and the song and power of it filled
his heart. The healing essence
spread through the room, easing the minds and terror of all who watched.
Frodo’s whole body glowed now, not with a golden light as before, but
with brilliant white like starlight that seemed to come from within him.
The hobbits smelled sweet nectar and tasted clear freshness as the
power surged through them all. Sam’s
heart grew light and hope swelled within him.
The darkness and fear of the last few days lifted and fled.
He felt boundless joy enter him the like of which he had never before
experienced. Surely even his
master could feel this! Triumphant
specks of golden light drifted down from the surrounding air like a fine mist
to settle on Frodo’s small body. They
sparkled as they touched him spread their warm glow over his still, weary
form. It was as if the essences
of both starlight and sunlight infused the ringbearer with their brightness,
caressing him, comforting him. At
long last, after weeks of agony and darkness, he was healed.
light faded slowly and Elrond slumped. His
companions gently lifted him and bore him away, their song softly fading as
they left. Strider, his eyes wet
with tears, touched Frodo’s face and turned it towards the other hobbits.
For the first time in many days, Sam saw peace in his features.
It was not the peace of death, but of comfort and color that was not
the flush of fever was starting to touch his fair cheek.
Sam rushed to his master’s side and knelt by the bed, weeping for
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