7. Scattered And Lost
“Do something ‘Fin. We have to find ada!” Arwen said brokenly.
“And we will, Arwen, but we will have to wait until morning. It is too dark and dangerous to attempt anything until we can see what we are doing. I will not risk any more lives until we have a clearer picture of what we face.”
“Arwen, I cannot believe that it is intended for either Elrond or the Lady Mithrellas to be sent to the Halls of Mandos just yet, but if it is, then there is nothing we can do to prevent it. At first light, we will start a search from the cliff tops and seek a pathway down to the river. If Elrond or the lady survives, we will find them. Elrond will send us word if he is able.”
Below the torrent of water raced on towards the sea with its elf burden tumbling them against rocks and pulling them under only to push them up gasping and choking for air, as they fought to stay afloat, they quickly lost sight of one another and each was left to struggled for survival before both succumbed to the darkness.
Two worried elves rode swiftly through the night to rejoin their party. As they traveled, they constantly sent out a barrage of mental pleas desperately seeking a response from a much loved and now lost father only to meet with a loud silence.
* * * * *
Mithrellas regained consciousness wedged between rocks above a short waterfall where the water gathered in a deep pool and the current weakened close to the bank. In the darkness, she could see nothing of her surroundings nor hear anything of her companions. Shivering she struggled to drag herself free of her stony captor and out of the water. Coughing and spitting up a large amount of water and silt, she was finally able to painfully pull herself up onto a rock. Here she collapsed and lay worn out unable to do anything more then be grateful she was still alive. Wincing she checked herself for any injuries and was relieved to find only scrapes and what clearly would be large and deep bruises along her right side and arm. She shook her head and briefly worried about the horses. There was nothing she could do for them. Either they would survive, or they would not.
Sighing she settled back and waited for daylight. Then she would see about trying to climb up the canyon walls. Rescuers would soon be looking for them she was sure. She hoped Elrond had managed to extricate himself and like her was somewhere nearby on the riverbank. Finally overcome with exhaustion, she slipped into the oblivion of sleep.
She awoke to the harsh sound of a hawk screeching as it rode the air currents above the canyon hunting for the odd small prey for breakfast. Pushing herself up to a sitting position, Mithrellas got her first real look at her surroundings and groaned. There was no way she could reach the canyon rim from where she was. The walls were nearly vertical and unclimbable. Studying the river, she noted that its level had dropped and the pool was now much shallower. Moving to the rocks that had been her captor earlier, she looked up river for any trace of the elf lord or their mounts. Seeing a body floating in a side pool eddy, she quickly recognized it as one of the pack animals and it appeared to still have its packs. She saw that with the lowering of the water, ribbons of rocky banks and sand spits were rapidly emerging both up and down the river.
She considered which way would offer the best solution for quicker rescue. Which way would led her to Elrond? Was he still alive? Since she had survived, surely he had also. The elf lord had been behind her the last she remembered. He could however, have gone past her after she had become trapped by the rocks, and lapsed into unconsciousness. She shrugged. She would just have to guess.
She took stock of what remained of her clothes and weapons. Her leggings were in better shape then her tunic, where a large tear over her shoulder left one sleeve barely hanging on. After a short debate, she tore it loose and tying a knot at the cuff threaded it through her belt. Her boots were wet and she had lost her cloak. By some miracle, she had retained the dagger she wore in a leather sheath thanks to a lacing that crossed over the handle.
She turned her gaze towards the packhorse. There was bound to be something there that would be useful. Moving carefully, she climbed over rocks and through several shallow muddy pools until she reached the animal. Tugging its halter and lead she managed to float the body nearer to the pool’s edge. With a sigh of regret, she gently stroked the soft nose then turned to the packs. The water had caused the leather lashings and harness to swell, and she had to cut them loose to free them. It was a struggle but she managed to maneuver the packs to the side of the pool. Cutting the halter loose as well, she gave the horse one last gentle stroke and murmured thanks before releasing him back to the river. Relieved from the weight of the packs, the body gently floated out into the main channel then disappeared over the falls.
For a time she watched as it disappeared then turned back to inspect the packs. She coiled the rope from the halter and set it aside for future use then inspected the packs to see what supplies they contained. The two covers wrapping each of the packsacks would be useful either as cloaks or as blankets once they dried. In the packs were several packs of lembas that appeared unspoiled, apples, and nuts in leather bags. In addition, she found several lengths of rope and spare Galadrim arrows. Someone had stuffed in personal belongings, dirty tunics, boots, and uncured deer hide cut into rough strips.
She debated what would be useful finally selecting part of the lembas, apples and nuts. She had no bow but the arrows might serve as spears when lashed to longer shafts so she set those aside to bundle separately. She added the rope and deer hide and then considered the boots and tunic. With a shrug, she wrapped the boots in the tunics and added them to the pile. She left a cooking pot, pack harness and some of the food.
Using her torn sleeve as a rough quiver, she bundled the arrows together and tied one of the deer hide strips to form a shoulder strap. She repacked one of the packsacks with her other items and fashioned a carry harness from the halter. The covers she folded into a pad that would help protect her shoulders from her burden. Pulling one of the lembas packs from the discarded pile she settled back and ate as she pondered her choices. Up stream or down stream?
* * * * *
At first glance in the early morning light, it looked like a pile of dirty laundry tossed up on the riverbank. That is until a groan accompanied by a sudden movement revealed the figure of a very dirty and soggy elf curled up in a ball huddled in the shadow of the half submerged tree trunk. With a painful struggle, the elf managed to sit up and groaned again as pain surged through his head. He lifted a hand to push the heavy curtain of tangled hair from his face and grimaced as he found it matted with blood from a deep cut above one ear. As he pulled himself further away from the muddy riverbank that had been his uncomfortable bed, he became aware of the world around him but it was strange, alien. This was not where he belonged. He did not recognize any sights or sounds or the rank smell of the half rotted vegetation that lay soddened and flattened by the river waters. What had happened? How had he gotten there? In addition, most importantly who was he? He tried to remember but the pain was too great and he slipped back into unconsciousness. On his hand, a ring with a great blue stone pulsed with an angry light, its power demanding a response from its wearer that did not come.
Above on the cliffs grey and black shaggy figures returning from their unsuccessful nights hunt studied the silent figure below with great interest. Black noses twitched eagerly at the sharp salty tang smell of fresh blood, burning yellow eyes kept watch and long pink grey tongues licked sharp jagged teeth. All they had to do was wait. Here was a meal just waiting for them. It would not be long and they would feast!
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.