11. Another Search Begins
Celeborn's head bowed in deepest sorrow. He had left Celebrían but an hour ago, slept for a few moments, then wandered out here, to her garden. Smiling at the beauty of it, and knowing Arwen had been keeper of it these past months, he had been caught unawares when Galadriel contacted him. The tale she told was almost more than he could bear.
At last, he asked her, "Can you sense him at all? Elladan? Is he within the Golden Woods yet?"
"I think not. There is a faint stirring in my mind. I believe he is to the north, probably by the eastern entrance to Hadhodrond. There are Yrch caves located near there."
"Send a troop to meet me at the base of Celebdil. Where the Nimrodel meets the Celebrant. I should be there in twelve, perhaps thirteen days. I will find him and bring him to you. He cannot be allowed to wander alone, with such fury in his heart. It will be the death of him. Keep Elrohir with you, at all cost," Celeborn shrugged and sighed, knowing she would not see it, "even if you must imprison him."
Galadriel held her thoughts. "I will send a troop. Do not yourself come alone over Caradhras. You are not a Vala."
"I doubt even the Valar would journey alone anywhere in Middle-earth these days. Are you well?" He paused for a moment, disturbed by the disquiet he felt within her.
"Will Celebrían leave us?"
Nothing more was said.
A half an hour later, Celeborn stood at the foot of Celebrían's bed. "Would you step with me into the hallway for a moment?"
Elrond nodded, motioned for his chief assistant to take his seat next to Celebrían, and followed her father. "I have been wondering when you would leave?"
"I leave not for my own lands, but for inyo nín. Elladan has left Lórien and none know where he ventures. I must find him. Elrohir has told Galadriel some disturbing thing. I fear for Elladan's life. His mind has been overtaken by revenge and he is imprudent in his actions."
Elrond choked on the laugh that threatened to undo him. "Imprudent? Is that what you call this? It is madness!"
"I speak not of the killing. That is between him and Ilúvatar. I speak of the headlong rush into danger, with no thought for his own safety. He is like a terrified troll as light comes near. No thought of anything but hiding from it. Elladan's thoughts are solely on the kill, not on his back. And now that he is away from Elrohir, his back is exposed."
"So you mean to find him and then what?"
"Take him back to the Golden Wood, to Galadriel. The Galadhrim will not be fooled again. He will not leave the Wood until she gives the command."
"When will you leave?"
"At first light."
"And you will take those who came with you?"
"I will. But no more. Galadriel is sending a full troop to meet me at Celebdil. She feels a touch of him near there."
"I have one request."
"That my seneschal, Glorfindel, travels with you."
Celeborn took in a deep breath, then slowly let it out. "He was with them when they found her?"
"And, now that you have hindsight in this matter, did he do aught to forestall this problem?"
"He noted Elrohir's anguish and took him aside a number of times. I believe that is, perhaps, why Elrohir is still in the Golden Wood, whilst Elladan journeys towards his death." Elrond choked at the final word.
"If he is ready at first light, he may join me."
"Then spend the night in rest. I will sit with Celebrían."
"I will stay with her until you come then. Go now and do what you must."
"You have already given your orders; you're supplies are being packed?"
"They are. I know not how long I will be gone. Arwen is returning as we speak. But not through the Redhorn Pass. She comes from the south, from Isengard."
"That is a very long route."
"It is safest."
Elrond nodded, paused for a moment, then embraced Celeborn. "I wish you success. I want ionnath nín back whole."
Celeborn hesitated in returning the embrace, then finally surrendered his pride and held Celebrían's mate close. "They will recover from this. Even if we cannot save sell nín, we will save inyonath nín."
It was a subdued group that rode out of Imladris the next morning. Celebrían had slept peacefully; news came that Arwen was indeed crossing the Fords of Isen; Glorfindel met Celeborn at the stables, and Anor rose, as it always did.
Elrond did not farewell them. Instead, he sat beside Celebrían and held her hand. She had awakened only moments before, pain unimaginable filling her eyes. She clutched his hand. "Where are ionnath nín? Sell nín?"
"They are traveling. Galadriel decided she must return to Lórien."
Innuendo, half-truths, outright lies. Had he ever been this false to her? Yet, he could not speak of what their children were suffering; he could only tend to her, in hopes that her recovery would bring healing to all.
"I would not know what has happened to me," she whispered. "I would not have... them know."
"Of course not. Put not your energy into worries and fears, but into healing." He smiled. "I need my Lady beside me. Thranduil has sent messages saying he will attend us shortly."
Her mind, too taken by the pain and such that roiled through her body, paid no mind to Elrond's speech.
"I have some athelas here. But also, some bread and honey, apples. I thought you might be ready for a little food."
She bit her lip, tasted the blood, and sobbed, ducking her head into the pillow behind her. "I feel some gaps. I have lost some teeth?"
He nodded, unable to speak for the lump in his throat.
"Perhaps some apple butter then, instead of the apple?"
Elrond's face lit as the ocean when Anor strikes it. "Apple butter it is then. I have tea ready now." He stood and poured, bringing the cup to her. After she took it, he walked back to the server and spread the apple butter on the bread. Stepping towards her, his breath caught. Even beaten and bruised, she was still the loveliest thing he had ever seen. A tear slipped down his cheek.
She saw it and misinterpreted it. "I look horrid."
"Nay," he whispered as he knelt at her side: the plate and bread slid to the floor. "My breath caught as I beheld the loveliest creature in all of Middle-earth, indeed all of Arda."
She looked searchingly into his eyes and saw only truth mirrored there. "You are blind," she half-mocked. "And I am lucky not to be." She gulped at the thought. "The bread?"
He turned and looked at the slice lying face down. "I will make another piece."
"It is at times like this, that I wish we had a dog."
"Celebrían," he cried and held her in his arms. "Your courage is now legend!"
She placed her head on his shoulder and sobbed. "Would that I remained Celebrían."
"Nay. I am but a shell."
"It is a precious shell, garn nín." He kissed her gently on her cheek. He knew not if she would ever again let him kiss her lips.
"How long, Elrond? How long since...? It seemed to be forever that I was... " She swallowed reflexively. "Held captive, Elrond? How long was I held captive?"
"Months. We could not find you."
She thought his answer over. "When you found me, what did you find?"
Another half-truth. "You were shackled, naked, and badly beaten... I thought you did not want to know?"
"That is all. How long since you brought me home?"
"Ethuil has begun."
"Ah. I thought I smelt the eglantine. May I see my garden?"
"Indeed. Rest for a little longer. I will make arrangements. But only a short visit, melethril nín."
All of Imladris flew into action. The garden, though well taken care of by Arwen, was scoured and cleaned and raked and weeded until naught was out of place. Elrond carried her to the area and sat her in a well-stuffed chair. Quilts were thrown over her until she had to cry out for mercy. "Too many; I scarce can breathe."
Tea was set: scones loaded with clotted cream sat upon platters of silver; strawberries lay nestled next to them, delighting the eye; Lindir sat nearby, gently playing upon his harp. Ellith ringed about, singing sweet harmonies to the tunes played.
Celebrían seemed wearied as soon as she was sat, but closed her eyes and merely waved her hand when asked if she needed to return to her bed. A small smile lit her face. Birds came to welcome her. A rabbit, one she had often fed in winters past, sat at her feet. An indescribable sense of melancholy came over her, but she kept the smile on her face, though her eyes remained closed.
He knew, as he always did, deciding if she wanted their people to think all was well, then he would not let the truth be known.
Spring winds blew gently, but eventually, Elrond noted she shivered. He clapped his hands and the retinue began to clear the area as he bore her in his arms to her bed. Laying her gently upon it, he kissed her forehead. "Thank you," she whispered, and slept. Though Imladris regained hope, he knew she would leave him - and soon.
The ride was swift with only minimal breaks taken. They rode from sun up to sun down - eating their midday deal ahorse. There was no singing, no laughter, and rare were the words that were spoken above a whisper. All felt the grief that captured their lord and none was about to remark upon it. Glorfindel was accepted, but not welcomed. At last, they came to the base of Celebdil and stopped for the night. Camp was made quickly, pickets were set, and Celeborn retired to his tent immediately after the meal.
Glorfindel finally had had enough. He strode quickly towards the Telerin Elf's tent and walked inside, not bothering to ask for permission to enter. "Do you always ride like this?" he groused, the usually gentle voice rough.
Celeborn looked up in surprise. "When the stakes are this high, yes. Do you always enter your lord's tent without asking?"
"You are not my lord, though it matters not. I enter Lord Elrond's tent or study or infirmary whenever I have need. Without permission."
"Elrond is very tolerant."
"I do not bother him with inconsequentials." Glorfindel sat on a stool near the brazier, holding his hands out to warm them. "It is a bitter spring."
"It was a bitter winter." Celeborn sat on the cot, realizing that Glorfindel was here to stay - unless he physically threw him out. Sighing, he asked, "You have something you wish to say?"
"You surmise that Elladan is somewhere in the vicinity." It was not a question. "I assume you will split us up. Am I to lead a contingent myself, or will you put me under another."
"Why do you ask?"
"I have some ideas of where I would like to look. I would prefer to be on my own, with perhaps only one or two others to accompany me."
"And when the Yrch attack, as they will, seeing only a small, defenseless party before them, then what will you do?"
Glorfindel snorted. "I have not been defenseless since I was released from the Halls of Bannoth."
At that, Celeborn shivered. "I had forgotten." His face turned crimson.
"I suppose I have become like unto the Yrch. I fear not death, nor even torture. Yet, I would not have that be upon Elladan."
"Speak plainly. Why do you wish to go alone?"
"Because I see great evil befalling Elladan if the Yrch discover we are looking for him. His torture and death will be swift." Glorfindel's keen eyes pierced Celeborn's heart.
"So a large party will be easily discovered?"
"I think so."
"Should I then send out little sorties?"
"Nay. I think they know we are in the vicinity. They may not know he is here too, though I believe he has been killing for weeks now. Fear must be coiled within them, and they not knowing what force it is that is against them."
Celeborn sat in silence. Finally, he stood and poured wine, offering a goblet to the Balrog-slayer. "So you think we should be a diversion whilst you search for him?"
"A diversion or a mob."
A cold chuckle filled the tent. "A mob indeed. When my warriors encounter the Yrch, they will not be gentle."
"I was sent to find Elladan - not kill Yrch."
Looking into his goblet, Celeborn spoke to Galadriel. After a moment, he looked back up at Glorfindel. "He is here, though I know not how close. When will you leave and who will you take with you?"
"Tonight, if I may. The Yrch are about - I can feel them in the undergrowth. I would take Rúmil and Orophin."
"Have you spoken with them?"
"I have not. I would not go above you."
Celeborn grinned slyly. "Yet I am not your lord."
Another snort. "Will you command them to follow me?"
"I will." He stood and walked to the entrance and spoke quietly to his guard. Within moments, Orophin and Rúmil stood before him. "I am placing you under Glorfindel. You will begin the search tonight for Elladan."
The ellyn bowed and left the tent. Glorfindel finished his wine, gave a slight bow to Celeborn, and left himself. Within moments, the three disappeared into the night.'
"They did not take horses," Haldir, said as he quietly stepped next to his lord.
"Nay. Elladan is close. Also, the horses would create a stir, too much noise."
"Do you trust him?"
"What is not to trust of someone who has given his oath to protect Lord Elrond and his family?"
"Perhaps as part of his oath to Turgon." Nothing more needed to be said.
"I am tired, Haldir, and weary of heart. I will rest and do as Glorfindel suggests."
"And that is?"
"To keep Yrch eyes upon us whilst Glorfindel searches for Elladan."
Haldir nodded. "I will watch."
Celeborn stepped inside the tent, swallowed the last of the wine, and went to bed.
Hadhodrond. - earlier Elvish name for Khazad-dûm (in later years - Moria)
Celebdil - Westron is Silvertine - (Zirakzigil in Dwarvish)
Inyë nín - my granddaughter
Inyonath nín - my grandsons
Ethuil - spring (around April 8th) - in the Imladris calendar
Eglantine - fragrant wild roses
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.