5. Winter comes
The next few days passed pleasantly as the elves relaxed and began their preparations for the return journey. Thanks to everyone else’s preoccupation Elrond was able to do a better job of hiding his embarrassment than ‘Rellas who did her best to keep her distance from the elf lord. Glorfindel grinned whenever he chanced upon either one and simply lifting an eyebrow was quick to return either a glare or crimson cheeks. It had been a long time since he had gotten the better of his lord and friend and he was milking it all as much as he could, discretely, of course, and enjoying it immensely!
The weather had continued to hold clear but the nip of rhir was sharper now and the elves from Lothlorien were eager to return home to the Golden Woods before the start of snowfall would make the return through the pass on Caradhras difficult. Elrond was anxious to return to the security of Imladris, very aware of what a tempting target his family made exposed as they were there at the Two Rivers campsite. He noted that unbidden Glorfindel had increased the number of scouts making sweeps of the area and sentries ringing the camp to insure that they received no surprise visitors. Their warriors had completed their packing and were ready to move out whenever the order was given. His ionnath as well as Arwen also had completed their preparations and he noted with amusement that ‘Rellas had the other two ellyth and herself ready to travel.
“’Fin, we should start on our way in the next day or so, no sense risking our luck any more then we already have.” Elrond commented as the elves finished up with the evening meal.
Glorfindel nodded, “All is ready hiren. Orophin has indicated the Galadhrim wanted to leave in the morning and I see no reason for us to delay further ourselves. I want to get across the cliff trail and down into the outer boundary of Imladris as quickly as possible.”
Elrond nodded. “I fear the Lothlorien warriors who accompany us will have to wait until echuir before they are able to return home. Already the clouds above the Red Horn are getting darker and heavy with snow. The ones departing tomorrow will barely make it back before it hits.
“They were expecting that possibility, Those who accompany us are all unwed and will spend rhir training with my warriors as part of our exchange training program. When they return to Lothlorien in the spring I will send some of ours to spend time on the fences under Haldir’s leadership.” Glorfindel sighed deeply and looked around at the combined group of elves. “This has been an enjoyable time, meldir, nonetheless I will be glad to get you all back home within the safe borders of Imladris.”
Elrond studied the face of his friend. “’Fin, I should not have come. These trips of Arwen are stressful enough for you and the gwanur without me adding to your level of concern.”
Glorfindel snorted. “Neither can you always stay immured within Imladris’ boundaries, Elrond, I know that. We cannot let ourselves become prisoners because concern over the activities of yrch. We just have to exercise care when you travel. You should not carry Vilya with you either. Next time leave her at home. Risking you is enough of a worry without putting her at risk as well. Sauron would just love to get his hands on both one of the ring bearers and their ring.”
Elrond nodded, “As usual you are right. ‘Fin. We will depart at first light if everyone can be ready.”
The next morning all was loaded up and the horses ready to move out even before the sun had cleared the earth’s horizon. The frosty air lent an eager spring to their gait and their breaths were clouds of vapor on the air. Orophin moved his mount forward to face the elf lord and the other members of his family standing by their mounts where they waited for the scouts dispatched earlier to return and indicate an all clear for their departure. Saluting he grinned and tightened his hold on the reins as his horse danced fighting the bit eager to get moving.
“Mae Govannen, hiren, I have completed my lady’s tasking and returned your sell into your hands. May the rest of your journey be safe and uneventful.”
Elrond waved a hand and smiled. “You have indeed. My thanks for your diligence and care. May your return also be without trouble. My compliments to your lady and her lord.”
Orophin waved and wheeled his horse, the rest of the Galadhrim formed up behind him. They departed at a rapid trot leaving only the smell of leather and horse drifting behind and even that vanished quickly. In the brief silence that followed the remaining elves looked at each other amused at his youthful exuberance then mounted themselves when they saw the scouts approaching. Glorfindel rode out and met them then after a brief exchange, he nodded and waved to the waiting group to move out. Elrond found himself behind Arwen and the other ellyth and in front of his ionnath.
Glorfindel pulled in beside him and smiled. “Nellas says they found no sign of yrch and the trail is firm and clear as far as they have been able to scout. That along with the decent weather gives me encouragement our return trip will be without problems.”
Elrond sighed. “We can hope. Be we will not let our guard down, brun mellon, I still have a sense of disquiet.” Glorfindel frowned at his lord’s comments and studied Elrond’s pensive face. Elrond looked up and shook his head. “No ‘Fin I have not sensed anything specific. If I do you will be the first to know.”
The next few days passed without incident and the travellers maintained a steady, fast pace taking only short breaks to rest the horses and allow the ellyth a brief time to stretch their legs. The ellyth made few requests. Indeed, they did their best to care for their own needs and that of their horses to not add to the workload of the warriors. Night found camps established with only minimal comforts and struck in the morning as swiftly as possible. All seemed to understand the unspoken need for speed and caution.
Two weeks into the return trip, Elladan joined his ada at the campfire after they had settled in one evening. He looked across the camp to where Glorfindel was discussing plans with one of his warriors for the next couple of days travel. The warrior listened intently to the balrog slayer’s words, nodding occasionally, then rose abruptly and strode off into the darkness. Glorfindel stood watching after him a short time then frowned and turned towards another small group lounging about a fire a short way off.
“’Fin says that the cliff trail may prove difficult. He is going to send scouts further ahead. He wants us to wait here until they return with more about the trail ahead.”
Elrond too had been watching his blond friend. He nodded at his ion. “I suspected as much. He has not been looking forward to this part of the trip. The added concern with the presence of the ellyth limits our options both as to how and where we can travel. We have made good time though and there has been no further rain. The ground has stayed dry, so hopefully, the trail will be solid enough for us all to make the traverse safely. It would be a long way down for one of us to fall.”
Glorfindel reappeared and joined them at the fire. Settling down he relaxed enough to accept a cup of heated wine and sighed noisily after taking a deep swallow.
“I am getting too old for this, Elrond. I know what I have been tasked to do, but we have to find a better way to do it.”
Elrond chuckled. “I have never insisted that you lead the patrols, ‘Fin. Your knowledge of warfare, strategy, and weapons skill have more worth in the training and preparation of our warriors then your presence on routine patrols.”
Glorfindel grimaced. “How else am I to judge the progress of individuals if I cannot observe them under field conditions? No, I must continue to lead.”
“Perhaps it is time to do some delegating meldir nin. Pick one or two who are good both as leader and in battle and let them be your seconds. It is wise to give them more responsibilities and prepare them to take over should...” Elrond paused.
“In case I should fall again?” Glorfindel downed the rest of the wine and studied the empty cup intently then nodded slowly. “Perhaps you are right meldir nin, It happened once and could certainly happen again. Even though the Valar sent me back before, I would not want to go through that experience again.” He shuddered. “The process is not a pleasant one. No offence, Elrond, but as much affection as I have for you and your family, I would not willingly accept re-housing and return. This time I would insist on staying in the Halls of Mandos."
Elrond cocked his head and watched his friend intently before answering quietly. “I would never ask such a thing of you meldir nin. I would prefer the possibility would never arise in the first place. I have need of your counsel and your support here now and in the future. It is that which drives my concern and suggestion.”
Glorfindel twisted his head and considered Elrond’s serious mien before responding with a large grin. “I will do my best, hiren, to keep my head on and my body intact!”
“Thank you, I am sure you will do your best! Erestor would never forgive you if you died and he lost his biggest source of complaints.”
Shaking his head, Elladan rose and turned to leave. “I do not know how you three put up with each other all these years.”
Elrond exchanged knowing looks with his friend and smiled broadly. “Adversity, familiarity and friendship hone strong ties penneth. One day you will understand!”
“I doubt it ada!” floated back on the air as he disappeared into the dark.
Shaking his head in mock exasperation, Elrond turned back towards the fire and refilled both his and Glorfindel’s cup with the heated wine. “What plans for tomorrow ‘Fin?”
“We will remain here until our scouts return with a report on what lies ahead. If everything appears passable, we can leave day after tomorrow. If not we will have to retrace our steps and take another trail further away from the cliffs. I have sent scouts in both directions just to be prepared for either eventuality.”
Elrond was quiet as he glanced over to where the ellyth were gathered around their own small fire. His eyes settled on his sell then moved beyond her to where ‘Rellas sat quietly observing her companions. She looked across as she sensed his eyes on her and smiled tentatively in response.”
*We still have an unfinished conversation, my lady. *
*Yes, hiren, but do you not think it best we wait until we reach Imladris? *
Elrond paused considering then nodded. *As you wish, ‘Rellas, but we will have it soon! *
Glorfindel silently watched his lord intently then followed his glance towards the nearby elleth. He smiled with glee when he saw their mutual looks. He hoped he was interpreting them correctly. Elrond needed a good bedding and this was the first elleth to attract his attention since Celebrian had departed. He was glad to see that an elleth appeared like-minded!
Mae Govannen-well met-a greeting
Meldir nin-my friend (m)
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