The movement stopped. She could not understand anything that was happening to her. It felt as if she was on a litter, but the Yrch would not give her such comfort. She pondered why the movement had started, but now, her body flinched in the imagined reason for its cessation. Where were the Yrch taking her? She had been in the cave an interminable time. They had despoiled her in every way that she could imagine. They had beaten her senseless too many times to remember. They had impaled almost every one of her openings more times than she could count. Beatings and bitings, deprivation of food and water, even clothing, had tormented her ceaselessly. They would not now comfort her.
Mayhap they tired of her. That thought brought a moments relief, quickly dispelled as two other reasons came to mind. They were going to finally kill her so they were moving her to the place where they cooked their meals. Tears once again flooded her eyes. 'Yet, if I am tonight's meal, then my torment is almost over. Mandos will have to take me.' And then, realization, followed by a deep shuddering, ran through her as the second possibility almost swept her back into oblivion. 'Valar save me! They are taking me to another cave where new beasts will find me not so dull, and they will ravage me anew.' She wailed at the thought, the horror too great.
After many moments, she returned from the gibbering terror that had engulfed her. She tried to still her mind, remember happier moments, held in her husband's arms. The memory of Arwen's birth comforted her for a moment, until she saw Yrch ravaging her little one. 'They have become strong, these Yrch. Morgoth's vengeance is upon us. We will all suffer torment and die. Even my own, my beloved Elladan and Elrohir, my precious Arwen. We will all be caught and raped and defiled.' She screamed and screamed but found no sound came from her lips. Or was it the ringing in her ears that took the sound from her? Her body succumbed to the horror. Racked with pain, tormented by evil thoughts, she continued to shudder, whimpering all the while.
At last, exhaustion took her; her shuddering abated. She was weary beyond all endurance. 'I will still my mind, accept the new horror that will soon be upon me, and know that there is no help for me. The Valar have forsaken me, why I do not know; my love has abandoned me. He will know I have been despoiled; therefore, he has probably already released himself from our bond.' That must be the reason no rescuers had come. Elrond wanted naught to do with a Yrch-spitted, beaten elleth.
But her father? Where was Celeborn? Had he too abandoned her as Maedhros had been abandoned by his kin? A low moan escaped her. Out of all the High Elf's brothers, none had even attempted a rescue. A deep pain tore her heart asunder, deeper than the deepest Orch-thrust. It laid her heart bare, and, finally, despair came to her. When the clawed hands touched her nether region, she screamed and swooned, no longer able to battle. Hope lost.
"We must stop and let her rest. She thrashes and moans. She will further injure herself."
"'Dan, every stop brings her closer to death. She cannot live without healing. Adar's touch is needed. And soon. Do you not note that her moans weaken, her breath shallows? We must continue the journey."
Elladan stopped his horse. Elrohir's stopped of necessity. The eldest took his brother's hand. "I see the signs, but I believe it is because she is weary. She needs rest. The litter, despite being held off the ground, still sways and jolts her body. She needs rest."
Elrohir made to speak then looked up. He watched as Glorfindel dismounted and walked back to them. Elrohir saw the same deep despair in the golden Elf's eyes as he knew was in his own. He also saw frustration on the High Elf's face.
"If I may speak? Elrond is now on his way towards us," Glorfindel began. "Let us camp here, though the night is not yet nigh. The journey home, after she has been tended to, will still be strenuous. Let her rest in peace whilst she may. Gain enough strength to continue the journey on the morrow."
Elrohir openly wept. "She needs to be in Adar's care now."
The golden-haired Elf put his hand on the younger son's shoulder. "She is in your care, Elrohir. That will do for now. Your love will sustain her until your Adar comes."
Elladan took his brother in his arms. "Glorfindel speaks truly. We must begin ministering to her with gentle touches. She will soon recognize that it is not Yrch that touch her, but her beloved ionnath."
"Come," Glorfindel motioned and his warriors, those not patrolling the forest in front and behind them, came and helped untie the litter. Glorfindel took off his cloak and placed it on the ground. The litter was laid upon it. The Elves stood back, bowed, and began to pitch their camp.
Their mother had shuddered as she was being lowered but then quieted. "See, 'Ro. She feels comfort at the cessation of movement."
Elrohir stared in anguish, not believing his brother's calm assurances. Once her guard stood back, Elrohir knelt at her side. Gingerly, he took her hand, waiting for some sign of distress, or better yet, recognition as he murmured "Naneth" over and over.
Her covering had slipped off. He moved to replace it and saw, once again, the blood that trailed down her thighs. Blood and other fluids. He bit his lip till it bled, keeping the tortured howl from escaping his constricted lungs.
"Here," Elladan offered a moistened cloth. "Use this."
Elrohir's hands trembled as he took the cloth.
"Shall I do it?"
"Nay," Elrohir sobbed. "I will." He touched the cloth lightly to her thigh. She screamed. He dropped the cloth and fell back, a small scream leaving his own mouth. Shock and horror once again enveloped him.
Elladan was at his side immediately. "You were right, 'Ro," tears streamed down the elder's face. "She thinks we are Yrch. Stop now."
Elrohir covered his face with his hands and wept bitterly. "Where is Adar? We need him here. We need him now."
"I know, 'Ro. He is on his way. He will be here soon" The elder picked up the cloth, chiding himself. 'I should not have let him clean her. It tears him apart.' But his own heart was torn asunder and his hands shook as he cleaned his mother. He refused to look at what he wiped away. "She has swooned, 'Ro. I will continue to clean her. Take your rest. You may watch her after I am through."
"Nay." Elrohir picked himself off the ground, knelt by the litter again, and took her hand. "If she is insensible, then perhaps some part of her will rest at my touch."
"It is true, 'Ro. Some part of her will know it is you. Hold her close while I clean her. It may counter my movements and give her some measure of comfort."
Elrohir nodded and scooped his mother into his arms. Her eyes remained closed; her body lay limp. Glorfindel offered him a cool, wet cloth. Elrohir looked up, tears in his eyes, and he saw the Balrog-slayer was weeping. "Thank you," he muttered, then turned and carefully wiped the cloth across the bruise under her eye.
"I think it needs stitching."
"It does, but I thought it best to care for her other needs first."
"She will have a scar if you wait much longer." Glorfindel knelt at her side.
"A scar!" Elrohir began to laugh wildly. "A scar! She will have a scar. Do you hear that 'Dan. She will have a scar." His laughter echoed through the forest and the trees swayed in sorrow.
"Stop it, Elrohir!" His brother took his arm and squeezed it tightly. "Stop it."
"A scar," he muttered, desperately trying to swallow the hysterical laughter that bubbled through him. "She will have a scar."
Glorfindel motioned and Elladan took the limp body of his mother into his own arms. The golden Elf took Elrohir's arm and pulled him up. "We need firewood."
"Let someone else fetch it. I must not leave her side."
"You will come with me and you will help me fetch wood."
Muttering now and again, "A scar, a scar," Elrohir followed his father's friend out into the forest. He could feel the laughter still within him and it frightened him. 'I am losing my mind.'
Glorfindel stopped by a small creek. He took Elrohir's arm and pulled him forward into the middle of the cold water. The Elf yelped. "What are you doing?"
"Taking the madness from you."
Elrohir sobbed and pitched forward. "If that is all that is needed, then I will immerse myself in this wretched stream."
"Elrohir. Come and sit with me." He helped the youngest son of Elrond stand. They sloshed towards the shore. "Would you like me to build a fire?"
"Nay." The younger Elf sighed. "I cannot remain from her too long." He turned and looked at Glorfindel. "Thank you. I feared I was losing my mind."
"I have felt the same thing. If I may share?"
At Elrohir's nod, the scion of Gondolin began. "It is common knowledge that I fought and defeated a Balrog; however... It was not such a simple thing."
"I know that. You were slain as the Balrog fell."
"I was. But I will tell you, the pain, the unbearable pain during the battle with Morgoth's servant, was unimaginable; more horrible yet was the sight that I beheld before that. The festival had just begun," Elrohir watched as Glorfindel's eyes glazed over; the High Elf was lost in the memory. "The little ones were laughing, there was dancing in the streets, even those on duty smiled as they watched the frolicking. They came from nowhere, screams of hatred filled the squares, mothers threw their children from the burning buildings to save them, but the Yrch gutted them as they fell." Glorfindel swallowed. "Even in the midst of battle lust, I could not keep the sights from horrifying me. At last, when I watched a babe popped, as candy, into the mouth... I felt myself go mad. I could not keep myself from shuddering. I could hardly hold my sword. My mind reeled with horror."
The forest seemed to quiet as the Balrog-slayer sat silent. Elrohir joined the trees in their grief over the tale of the fall of the once mighty city.
Glorfindel composed himself. "I would have gone mad. Except for three things. I saw Tuor, Idril, and Eärendil. I knew they must be saved," the Elf's eyebrow rose. "I knew I could save them. I would have, if not for the Balrog." He turned towards Elrohir, his eyes clear once again, as he placed a ferocious grip on the youngster's shoulder. "I had purpose, Elrohir. It brought me back from the brink of madness. You have purpose. Your Naneth needs you to help save her, to bring her back from the horror she has endured. Her healing is not only in your Adar's hands. It is in yours. Will you help her? Have you the strength?"
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.