4. A Puzzle Revealed, A Future Sought
Elladan had spent most of the morning hunting and returned with two small deer. Both brothers had promptly set to cleaning and preparing the carcasses for transport. As they worked they noted with amusement their new companion’s wide-eyed study of them, their clothes and equipment. He took careful note of the braids that pulled their long black hair back off of their face and left their pointed ears bare. The sight had him reaching up under his own shorter cut and feeling his own. He realized with shock his ears were exactly the same.
Iorlas found the one who had tended his wound often studying him with puzzled eyes as if he were trying to solve a riddle. Finally Elrohir asked to see his sword and bow more closely. Iorlas gladly passed both to him. The elf briefly glanced at the bow and quiver then set them aside. He hefted the sheathed sword experimentally and then pulled the sword free of its cover. His eyes widened momentarily then he glanced wordlessly at his brother. Elladan rose from the fire where he had been preparing dinner and took the sword. He turned it over several times and studied the pommel and guard. Finally grasping it by the handgrip he swung it experimentally through several traditional fighting movements testing the balance. Running a finger over the blade he winced at its condition. Nodding to his brother he passed it back before returning to the fire.
“This is a elven sword, Iorlas, how did it come into your hands?”
“My father found several such items near our hut years ago. He did not like to see such fine things go to waste so he brought them home.”
“Were you able to bring any other things with you when you fled?”
Iorlas nodded and pulled two matching long knives from his pack. Handing them over to Elrohir, he explained that his father had wrapped the handles of both the sword and the knives with leather to protect them before passing them on to him for his use. He seldom used them though because they were too long to carry comfortably while he was hunting. He preferred a smaller version that he carried in a sheath on his belt.
Elrohir raised an eyebrow and held out his hand for the smaller knife. Placing them on a blanket spread out before him, he continued to examine and study their details. All four blades were made to a similar design with a recurved blade sharpened along the lower edge and tapered acutely to a sharp point. Fashioned from the finest steel, heavily etched and engraved with brass in a complex pattern of scrollwork and vines they were examples of the finest elven master sword smith work.
He could tell little of the design of the handgrips since all were wrapped in the leather covering Iorlas had attributed to his father’s doing. The sword’s upper edge had a raised spur in front of the handgrip that functioned as the guard and a similar one along the lower edge roughly a hand spans width from the handle. The two long fighting knives followed the same general design with the guard and pommel fitted diagonally into the tang also but matching the shape of the handgrip without the spurs of the sword. The shorter hunting knife was also to the same design with a spur along the lower edge that functioned as its guard then joined the handle with no protruding guard.
“These were all made for the same warrior. That is unusual. Most choose either the sword or the fighting knives. Few choose both. They are of the finest quality. I doubt I have ever seen better. When we reach Rivendell I hope you will allow our weapons master or our blacksmith to remove their leather covers and study them. The smith will be able to repair the damage.”
“I would be honored if they would. If possible perhaps I could learn to use the sword? I have little experience with other than my bow. I doubt I would do well in any sort of fight that would dictate the use of them.”
Elrohir nodded and returned the weapons to Iorlas. “It is not an unreasonable request and one that Lord Elrond will easily grant.”
“Dinner is ready.” Elladan called to them.
After dinner was completed Iorlas found himself again the focus of study. This time both elves were watching him with the same puzzled expression.
“Have I suddenly grown two heads?” he nervously asked with a weak laugh.
Elladan shook his head and relaxed back into his position against a fallen log and chuckled. “No my young friend, but you do present us with a most interesting puzzle. Despite your assertion that you are of human stock, it appears most clearly to us that you are in fact elf kind. Everything about you shouts it, your height, the color of your skin, and the shape of your eyes. Even the way you walk proclaims it. Then there is the speed with which you recovered from your wound. Only elves do so in such a manner. When you add your elven weapons, you most definitely scream elf kind.”
Bewildered, Iorlas looked at both of them. They were not teasing him. They really believed he was an elf!
“Why would my father lie to me about this?” He asked clearly confused by the thought.
“Over the centuries we have lost family or friends to the ravages of orc attacks. Many were never found, simply vanishing without trace. It is not inconceivable he found you as a lone survivor in such an incident. With no way to identify your true parents and having no wish to leave an elfling behind he adopted you as his own. As one of the Dunedin his life span would have allowed him to raise an elfling.”
“But he showed me my mother’s grave. He told me many tales of her beauty, gentleness, and kindness as well as how much she loved me. I have a lock of her hair that I wear in an amulet here around my neck, See?” He pulled out a small crystal ball that contained a lock of silver gold hair woven in a tight braid and fashioned into a small circle.
It was not the hair but the small crest incised in the amulet cap that drew both elves attention and caused gasps of indrawn breath. “Is that what I think it is brother?” Elladan asked in a shaken voice.
“I cannot be sure, but it certainly resembles it. Fath…Lord Elrond will have to look at it to be certain.” Elrohir responded in an equally shaken voice.
Iorlas looked worriedly from one brother to the other repeatedly as he tried to understand what such a reaction could mean. “Please, what are you talking about, tell me, I beg of you. Has my father been involved or hidden some terrible crime you know of?”
Elladan shook his head. “That is hardly likely, rather I would say he prevented one if what we suspect is true.”
Iorlas looked pleadingly at them for answers
Regretfully, both shook their heads. Elrohir answered for them both. “Iorlas, I am sorry, but this is something only Lord Elrond can deal with. Your answers must wait until we reach Rivendell.”
Iorlas watched the two elf lords as they set about the task of breaking camp the following morning. Their efforts were spare and efficient and they were soon ready to depart. It became clear that they intended he should ride one of the horses while they took turns on the other leaving one brother on foot to run along side. Iorlas was not prepared to be treated as an invalid until they explained that it was important to reach Rivendell quickly so that news of the orc attack could be sent up river to the villages and settlements warning them that the orcs could be preparing to cross the river when it returned to normal levels. While he had indeed nearly recovered, he had not yet reached the level of the endurance they had and by switching off, they could make nearly as good of time as when both were mounted. He had to admit their plan made sense.
While Iorlas was reluctant to admit he had little skill and experience with horses, he was willing to at least try. He soon found himself preparing to mount the smaller of the two horses. At his obvious question Elrohir laughed and pointed out that in the off chance a speedier travel was suddenly needed, the larger horse could more easily carry the two of them then the smaller mount. Iorlas nodded his understanding and turned to place his pack on the back of his saddle. He paused as Elrohir joined him carrying a deerskin wrapped bundle. At his questioning look, Elrohir gestured towards his mount.
“I would add this to the burden your mount will carry. The other will be carried by mine.”
Iorlas nodded his understanding, took the bundle and tied it on the
front of the saddle. When all was ready the three headed north at a comfortable pace set by Elladan who started the first leg of their journey on foot. Two days into their journey they stopped at the first small settlement and obtained the loan of a third horse, leaving a generous amount of deer at the local inn in exchange. After that they made faster progress and reached Rivendell on the evening of the sixth day just as the setting sun bathed the last homely house in a warm golden glow.
On the last ridge before the trail descended into the valley and the bridge leading into the main complex of graceful buildings they paused to let Iorlas take in the view. Silver plumes of mist rose from the many waterfalls that threaded through the buildings before falling to the river below. Smiling at Iorlas’s expression of complete wonder they finally urged their mounts forward and met the Lord of Imladris in the entry court.
Elrond stood staring in shock at the equally startled Iorlis. Turning to his sons he shot a rapid flurry of mental questions at them.
“Ada, he does not understand Sindarin, he speaks only Westernesse.” Elrohir called. And they all turned back to the bewildered Iorlis.
Elrond hesitated and then smiled and addressed the newcomer in Westernesse. “Welcome to Imladris, Iorlas of the Rhudar Wilderness.”
“Thank you, my lord, I am grateful for the shelter of these walls.”
“I understand that you had some problems with orcs and had to flee your home.”
“Yes my lord that is true.”
“Well, you may stay as long as you wish. Here you may rest and decide which path you will seek in the future. Allow this elf to escort you to our guest quarters where you may refresh yourself and rest. When you are ready you are invited to join us for dinner. Just ask the house elf stationed in your hall to show you the way to the dining room.”
Iorlas bowed awkwardly and turned to follow his guide to the guest wing.
Elrond watched his guest depart and then turned to his sons. “My library, now.” He snarled. Turning to head that direction without watching to see that they followed he swiftly disappeared into the main building. Both Elladan and Elrohir looked at each other nonplus. Surely if what they suspected was true, then this was a happy occasion. A great elven mystery was about to be solved.
Arriving shortly after their father they found him marching back and forth in an agitated manner. Pausing he glared at them.
“What makes you think he is the grandson of Gil Galad’s sister?”
“Well for one thing ada, he carries weapons that fit the description of those belonging to Lord Hador of the Silver Hand, the hervenn of the elleth in question, though we should have Glorfindel confirm that. And for another he wears a crystal amulet that bears the crest of Gil Galad’s house.” Elrohir calmly stated.
“Has he made any such claim?”
“No, I do not even think he truly believes he is elf kind. If what he says is true, then the answer to the disappearance of the lady and her lord lay somewhere near the remains of his hut in the watershed.”
“Tell me what you have learned from him.”
“We first discovered his tracks emerging from the lower tributary of the Anduin, four days south of the Great Road….”
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.