Playlist Navigation Bar
Unto the ending of the world: 30. Wake
Midsummer's Day – July 1, 3019
You must awaken.
Do not want to... Let me sleep, he murmured in mind, reaching out to pull his blanket over his head. He did not wish for an argument, he just wanted to sleep. But his hand found no blanket, and it was cold, despite the glare of the midday sun on his face. He had a headache – and he could feel something wrong ... What was it? And why was he sleeping outside in the middle of the day? He raised his hand to his head, and winced in pain as fingers brushed hair matted with crusted blood.
Wake up! Again, the call, more insistent now.
"Let me sleep," he repeated out loud. Maybe if he answered now, his brother would let him go back to sleep. Elladan? he asked when there was no reply.
No, alas, I am not he.
Abruptly, Elrohir was wide awake. Who...? He nearly fainted as he attempted to raise his head. Taking it slower, he tried again, and though he had to pause to fight off the pain and nausea that rose at every move, he made it to hands and knees.
Having gotten that far, he slowly raised his head to look at the grey slope around him. He remembered; there had been Orcs, a rockfall. The blood on his head... Had he been struck by a rock? Lower down he saw a gleam of metal – an Orc helmet – among the stones, and beyond that several Orcs. He hoped they were dead. He did not think he was up to a fight.
Just above him was a boulder that could easily have crushed him if it had rolled further down. He eyed it anxiously, but it did not shift as he gingerly edged out of its path and moved into a sitting position.
He tried to stand up, but a bout of dizziness that was bad enough to make him retch forced him to sit down again. His wound must have bled fiercely, and his head still hurt; likely he was concussed as well. Out of long habit he tried to list all his wounds. The arrow-wound from when the Orcs had first found Elladan and him was healing well, though the arm hurt worse again after the abuse it had suffered in climbing – and falling – down the slope above him. His left shoulder and his back were sore; bruises and cuts on his legs; he suspected at least one broken rib.
He had heard his brother's warning, then the sharp pain as a rock struck his head, the dizzy lurch as the slope started to slip underfoot. Not all of it had been him either; he had felt Elladan's slide downhill as well, adding to his own disorientation.
Elladan? Where are you? They should go on as soon as they could. These Orcs would no longer trouble them, but there would be others, and they still had a long journey ahead of them. Where was Elladan?
It was difficult to make out among the stones and rubble, but he thought he saw his brother's cloak. He forced himself to his feet again, though the pain in his head was even worse than it had been before. A trickle of pebbles followed in his wake as he half-stumbled, half-slid down almost to the edge of the scree.
It was Elladan's cloak, and there was his brother's pack as well. Elladan must have lost it in the tumble down the mountainside.
He tugged at the hem of the cloak, but it was stuck under a rock.
ELLADAN! Answer me!
No. Not silence.
He... No, he cannot be... Unconscious, not... Elrohir threw aside a large stone. He tugged at the cloak again. He must reach Elladan.
Elrohir took a deep breath before he placed his hands against the largest rock and pushed. If that one was out of the way, the rest would be easier. Yet he was too weak, or the rock was too heavy, for it did not budge. He gasped at a stab of pain from his ribs as he fell to his knees. Gritting his teeth, he forced himself up again for another attempt. Yes! No. Not enough. Yet even that small shift loosened rocks further up the slope.
Several rocks struck him as he curled up to try to shield himself. Elrohir lay still, waiting, not daring to move at first for fear of bringing down the whole slope. At last, when no more rocks fell, he slowly sat up, wincing as his body protested even that careful movement. All his progress in reaching his brother had been lost, even if the large rock that had thwarted him had shifted slightly.
He had to try again – do not stop, do not think – but the rock was too heavy to shift on his own. His head... he should rest before he fainted. No, Elladan. He slowly moved back for another attempt.
Elrohir looked around in confusion at the sudden command. He had forgotten about the stranger who had woken him up. He snorted at his carelessness; he did not even know whether the other was friend or foe. The stranger's presence did not feel hostile, but it was so hard to think, to concentrate.
He did not see anyone – had he imagined it? – but then he realised that the other had only spoken to him in mind. Why had that not struck him as odd? There was also something familiar about him; had they met before? At first his thoughts shied away from remembering, but finally he knew where it had been. Minas Tirith. You... you are the one who helped Aragorn to es... escape the Enemy.
I have been watching for a long time.
That was neither acknowledgement nor denial, but even so Elrohir was certain he was right. Why? Who are you? And if you were watching, why could you not help us? Now Elladan is dead.
My path is set for me, and I may not stray from it. A pause, and a deep sadness underlying the other's thoughts. Would that I could have done more.
Path is set... Watching for a long time... Again, Elrohir's thoughts returned to Minas Tirith. He had glanced away from Estel's face as Eärendil's star became visible in the darkening sky, but he had soon turned towards his foster brother again, the light from the Star of Hope seeming bitter mockery. Elrohir spoke aloud in sudden realisation. "Eärendil."
He looked up, though he knew there would be nothing to see in the middle of the day. Dark spots appeared in his vision at the abrupt movement. When next he was aware, the sun was already below the horizon; Elrohir lay still, staring up into the night sky. Eärendil?
After some time Elrohir sat up again, too restless to lie down, wincing at the pain from his ribs as he moved. He pulled his cloak tighter around himself as he followed the path of the Moon in a sky that was already starting to lighten again. It would not be long until the sun rose. The cold... he could scarcely stop trembling. If he stayed here, he would die. No, he... No. What would Elladan think of him if he just sat here until he died?
He should try to make it home. Father had to hear what had happened, where Elladan lay buried. And he should tell Father also that Eärendil had spoken to him, and... Should he? Had it even been real? Or was his head wound making him imagine things? No, the conversation had been real. But what would Father make of it?
Elrohir bit his lip in uncertainty and raised his hand to the crusted-over wound on his head. He should probably clean it. He reached for his water-bottle, but all that remained of it was a torn leather strap on his pack. Where had he lost it? He tried to remember the last time he had seen it; had it been the night before? No matter, the bottle was gone, and no way to retrieve it.
Wait. With shaking hands, Elrohir reached for Elladan's pack. There was a pack of lembas inside, and the last of their dried meat and fruit. But Elladan's water-bottle was empty and too damaged to mend. Elrohir sat back again. Without water, he might as well not even begin the journ... No, think. The idea almost made him retch, but if he found one that was not too foul, he could take a water skin from one of the Orcs.
Elrohir hauled himself to his feet, and started down what was left of the slope.
Playlist Navigation Bar