Yuvinel watched as the Elves finished up their preparations. The summer sun had set, and the humdrum of the city gave way to an uneasy quiet. Once again, the unsettling feeling of being a part with the Elves came across her. Much to her surprise, the soft words spoken between them in their strange tongue were starting to sound familiar. Although she did not understand what they meant, the graceful lilt was strangely close to her heart, as if she had heart it before in some past lifetime.
"We are ready, Lady Yuvinel. The time has come for you to leave." Glorfindel's voice broke into her thoughts.
"I do not understand why I can't stay behind."
A frustrated noise escaped the Eldar's throat, before Elladan cut in gently. "Yuvinel, it is important that you take the message to Imladris should our mission fail."
Yuvinel grudgingly accepted, seeing that she was fighting a losing battle. The Elves watched as the girl mounted her steed. She was soon joined by Allanor and one of the Elves, Thangol, both dressed as foreign lords, Allanor's face hidden to avoid recognition. Daniya and Dwendyn, Allanor's mother, had earlier been taken out of the city.
"Allanor, consider your choice a final time, for there will be no turning back. You will be exiles, with no fixed home if you choose to help us."
"A life without a home is better than living under Marnor. I fear his wrath will eventually catch up with Daniya. It is best we leave for good. Gallenon, too, has made his choice. He is willing to bear responsibility for the raid."
"Your efforts are much appreciated, then. You are welcome to dwell in Imladris henceforth."
An enigmatic smile played across the features of the young man. "Besides, the rebellion against Marnor might well have entered into its final stages. There is yet hope that he might be overthrown. For now, we ride off!" He mounted his steed and rode off.
"We shall meet again," promised Yuvinel, before following Allanor.
Elladan waited until all three had vanished into the night before speaking, "The night grows late. Esendri languishes within the dungeons as we speak."
The other Elves nodded, turning to Glorfindel for instructions, who gave a curt nod, indicating they head towards the castle.
Gwenophor and Feanor took the lead, slipping off, followed shortly by Calethorn and Milnirtaur. Glorfindel gave a pause before motioning for Elladan to follow him.
Keeping to the shadows, both Elves made their way to the castle. They had decided that different routes were to be taken by each pair to minimise the chances of detection, and it was not long before their shadows cast lonely patterns along narrow alleyways of the city.
"Let us hope the contact is true to his word." Glorfindel had been sceptical about the whole endeavour from the beginning, not sharing Elladan's faith in the men.
"Mortal blood runs in my veins, and that of my father's, Glorfindel," the younger Elf said.
Glorfindel smiled, knowing that Elladan was teasing him. It was not long before they reached one of the castle's many entrances. Marnor was arrogant enough to believe in the strength of his city walls to build such a vulnerable castle. It only served their intents better, Glorfindel thought with satisfaction, as they entered the confines of the castle grounds easily, passing the slumbering sentries.
Elladan closed the gate behind them, and flashed a grin at Glorfindel. "How does your trust in mortals stand now, my Lord Glorfindel?"
"Be on the alert for a trap." To prove his point, he unsheathed his sword before proceeding.
They were joined by the other four, and following the instructions given to them by Gallenon, the party of Elves made their way to the entrance of the dungeons.
Light footsteps sounded, causing the Elves to tense.
"Elladan?" a voice called, as Gallenon materialised under the dim starlight.
Glorfindel gestured for him to be silent.
"Do not fret. The sentries have been drugged," said Gallenon, pushing open the door to the dungeons and stepping within.
As planned, Glorfindel, Elladan and Calethorn followed after him, leaving the other three behind to keep watch.
Descending into the gloomy interior of the prison, the Elves could not help but shiver at the cold, stony structure of the place. Foreboding doors of iron appeared on either side of the passageways, and the air was rank. Once in a while, a low murmuring told of faceless prisoners confined behind the slimy walls, punctuated occasionally by a loud scream that spoke of unseen horrors.
Glorfindel grabbed the sword-arm of Elladan, noting the red flush in his face, and the anger brewing within.
"We did not come here to free prisoners," he muttered, switching to their native tongue to emphasise the seriousness of the matter. The flickering flames that lit the corridors grew dimmer, and soon the Elves noted the lack of doors to either side.
After what seemed like eternity, Gallenon stopped in front of a sturdy door that stood on its own. The Elves felt their hearts beat faster as he undid the rusty mechanism.
The Elflord stepped into the tiny interior of the cell, lit only by the flickering dimness of Gallenon's torch.
The sight that greeted him almost caused Glorfindel to cry out with rage. A huddled form was scrunched up in a corner, his limbs shackled with heavy iron chains, and shudders wrecked through his body. His clothes were torn, and there were many wounds over his body.
"Esendri?" Glorfindel called. He strode over to the quivering form, and touched him.
Gallenon too entered the cell, and let out a gasp of shock and anger. He quickly undid the chains.
"I had no idea they did this to him!" he cried, "I knew only that they had moved him!"
His lips pursed into a thin line of hatred, Glorfindel scooped up the small Elf, and stepped quickly out of the cell. Elladan and Calethorn hurried after Glorfindel, who was taking long, angry steps back out of the dungeons.
It was not long before the party emerged from the dungeons, where they were greeted by their companions, who were holding a small figure captive.
"Glorfindel!" Gwenophor's face darkened when he saw Esendri.
"A captive?" asked Elladan.
"We did not wish to kill," said Feanor.
"Elladan?" called the captive, eyes bright beneath his hood.
"Master Ifrit!" exclaimed Gallenon, appearing behind the Elves. "He is not an enemy! Are you hurt?"
"No, Gallenon! The hour grows late, and your escape must be made! They will come for him in the morning, only to discover his flight. The entire city will be turned upside down, and no effort will be spared to find him again! The wrath of Marnor will be swift!"
He looked at Esendri, and his eyes seemed to dilate in sadness. "I apologise for the way they have treated you, my friend. It is a disgrace to the race of man!" he whispered.
"Now go!" he hissed at the puzzled Elves.
Gallenon set off after a nod of thanks, leading the company out of the castle, where they left the small figure standing forlornly in the moonlight.
Once out of the castle grounds, he took a northerly route, the Elves following in silence. Glorfindel thinking hard. There was something strange about the way Gallenon addressed the boy. A million questions burned in his head as he slipped through the cobbled pathways of the city, his burden doing little to encumber his efforts.
As they reached the city walls, a distinct feeling of unease swept over Glorfindel. Glancing over at Elladan, he could tell his feelings were shared by the other. To their dismay, rough voices were soon heard coming from the sentry post, and they could discern no less than five guards within.
Gallenon stepped into full view before they could stop him, walking right up to the guard post, motioning for the others to follow him.
"Halt! Who goes there?"
"It is I!" Gallenon removed his cowl, revealing his features.
"Captain!" cried the guard in recognition. "What business brings you - "
He never got to complete his sentence, for the other swung up his sword, and incapacitated him with one powerful stroke.
A loud cry rose from the men within, and they sprung out to attack, swords unsheathed. Their resistance was short-lived, however, as the Elves took them down easily without much effort.
"Stop!" cried Gallenon, as Feanor was about to finish off the last sentry, who made use of the distraction to make his escape. "Let him flee!"
"What do you mean to do?" Glorfindel cried, emerging from within the shadows.
"The alarm will be raised! Grab their horses from the stables, and let us flee!"
The Elves obeyed his command, and the gate was flung open, and the Elves were off like the wind.
Once far from the castle, Glorfindel pulled astride Gallenon. "Have you lost your mind? The alert will have gone out for our capture!"
Gallenon smiled grimly. "Do not fear. Marnor will take a day to get any proper search party organised, and we will be away by then. I had to do this to ensure the innocent does not get punished for our deeds!"
"Why did you not tell me you had this planned all along?" demanded the Eldar.
"Would you have consented to it if you had known my plan? Look, our friends await our arrival!"
Glorfindel kept his misgivings to himself as they approached the boundaries of a forest, where Yuvinel, Thingol, and Allanor stood waiting.
Allanor rushed up to the party and eased Esendri off the horse.
"Savages," he muttered, settling the Elf down next to a tree.
Glorfindel and Elladan dismounted, and the latter started a brief examination of the Silvan Elf, eyes flashing dangerously.
"Whip lashes," he muttered to Glorfindel in their own tongue. "Incidents like this make me ashamed of the blood I harbour in my veins."
The reply was cut short by Esendri stirring. His eyes flickered briefly, before opening slowly. It was a while before he could orientate himself, and grew wide as they registered the presence of the other Elves.
"Glorfindel?" he croaked, struggling to clear his spinning head.
"'Tis I, Esendri. I am afraid we can tarry no further, in spite of your injuries, as Marnor will be upon us in an instant!"
Esendri laughed, feeling the strength returning to his leaden limbs. "Can you not see I am beginning to heal?"
Elladan let out a sigh of relief as he saw that Esendri spoke the truth.
"The stone prison, it cut you off from any form of life," said Glorfindel in sudden understanding.
"Yet, I believe a healing salve will not harm matters," said Elladan. "I hope aversion to aid is not a typical characteristic of all Silvan Elves!"
Esendri chuckled, his heart warming to the other. "From the look of it, you must be acquainted with a particular Silvan Elf!"
Elladan smiled, producing a vial and starting to apply its contents onto the other's injuries. "I trust then that you will not put up a royal struggle as the prince did when we attempted to heal him! I am Elladan, and these are my friends from Imladris.
"I have heard much of you and Master Elrohir!" Esendri said, before acknowledging the presence of the other Elves. "I have yet to thank you for saving me!"
The conversation was interrupted by Gallenon's approach.
"Gallenon!" called Esendri, his delicate face lighting up.
"How do you feel? I truly apologise for the treatment administered to you! There is no excuse I can make for the twisted nature of Marnor."
Esendri shrugged. "Do not make apologise for something you were not involved with, Gallenon. My injuries will heal, but I fear for the safety of you and your family. Surely this rescue was done at great cost!"
"The Elven healing ability and willingness to forgive is truly amazing," said Allanor, who had been listening. "Do not worry about our safety, for we have decided to flee and the cursed city of Umstraag! It is a decision we had been putting off for long, and it is with a glad heart that we leave it behind."
"But where would you stay?"
"We shall worry about that later, Esendri. Dawn is breaking, and Marnor would see to it that a large company is sent for your recapture. You were a valuable prisoner. Do you feel well enough to ride on your own?" Gallenon said, glancing worriedly at the sky.
Esendri scrambled to his feet, and walked over to a horse, mounting it without any difficulty. Elladan smiled in recognition of his strong spirit, and left to join the other Elves.
"Mayhap then, you should mount your own steed?" said Thingol, approaching Esendri with a familiar chestnut stallion.
"Silvan Elves!" muttered Glorfindel in jest, drawing a scowl. "We set out at once!" The Eldar gave a few rapid instructions to the Imladris Elves, who mounted their own horses.
"I fear we have to leave the stolen horses behind, for they are not up to the journey that lies ahead. With the Valar's blessing, they will find the freedom they so deserve, and not be recaptured into servitude again!" Glorfindel said
Yuvinel ran up and greeted Esendri joyously. The two exchanged a few brief words, before she addressed Elladan. "I am afraid Daniya will only ride with you. She has been asking after you the whole while!"
All present chortled upon seeing the dismayed and panicked look upon the peredhel's face.
"Ai, this cannot be!"
"We do not have time for this, Elladan," Glorfindel said, "I trust it is not too difficult to have her seated in front as you ride!"
A glum resignation took over Elladan, who sighed and walked over to Yuvinel. She handed over the excited little girl, who shrilled with delight, causing the Elf to wince. Holding the girl awkwardly, he then mounted his horse, and placed the shrieking girl in front of him.
"You seem to be managing well, Elladan!" called Esendri.
Chuckling, the men mounted their own horses, Dwendyn riding with her younger son. Once the mortals were ready, the strange company set off, headed back in the direction of Imladris.
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.