Days of Darkness and Despair: 4. Assessment

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4. Assessment

Elrond held his hand open and chided himself as he noted his outstretched hand shook. The messenger never spoke a word, except to say the missive was from Glorfindel, but the Elf's face writhed with a deep heart-pain. Elrond raised an eyebrow as he took the message. Not good news. Erestor was on his left, Arwen on his right. She clutched his arm as he received the missive. He thanked the messenger, turned, and led Arwen back into the house. Erestor followed. Not a word was spoken; none had been spoken since first the news that a messenger had arrived raced through the vale. It seemed all of Imladris had come together in silence; they waited in silence. As Elrond walked past them to his study, they bowed, offering silent support and comfort. The Lord of Imladris heard a stifled sob now and again. He only nodded as he walked past them. Arwen, he noted, looked neither left nor right. He knew Erestor was behind him.

Arwen sat in the chair directly opposite his desk, folded her hands in her lap, and looked at him with expectant eyes. Elrond found, at that moment, that he had no hope. He did not sit. He stood, facing the fireplace, and took a deep breath. The day of Gil-galad's death came to mind. He saw his king before him on the blood-spattered mountain. The image was as clear as if he stood at the Dagorlad at that very instant. He choked as he looked upon the lifeless eyes that stared into the blackened sky above them. Elrond had never felt such despair, such sorrow - until this day.

"She is not dead," Erestor whispered in his ear, and Elrond startled, surprised at the prescience of his friend. It was as if Erestor had read his mind. "You would know. You would feel it."

The Lord of Imladris nodded, broke the seal, and opened the note. The missive was vague, stating only that Celebrían had been found alive and his services were needed immediately. The only clue he had as to her state was the mention of athelas and wound tinctures and salves in the list of supplies needed.

He exhaled the breath he had not known he'd held. He walked to Arwen's side and knelt beside her chair. "Your Naneth lives. She is hurt. I know not the extent of her injuries, but I have been summoned to her side." His daughter stifled a sob and nodded. He was always amazed at her composure. Even in the midst of disaster, even though she had grown into adult hood in the shelter of Celeborn's woods, still, no horror or fear seemed to touch her. Elrond took her hands in his. "We will need new clothes for her and blankets. Will you see to that?" She nodded, rose, and kissed him. Without a word, she left them.

He turned to his counselor. "She is as strong and hard as mithril."

"Yet as gentle and pliable as a willow branch. I think she could survive anything," Erestor offered. "She is her Naneth's daughter."

Elrond's face clouded. "I never saw that strength in Celebrían." His voice shook. "The gentleness, yes, but not the strength. She will need it."

"You will be her strength. Come you and rest whilst the supplies are prepared and the horses readied. I will order the troop. Who would you have accompany you?"

"Chose them yourself, but make the company large. And have a proper litter prepared. The Valar only know what they have juryrigged in the wild."

"Elladan and Elrohir are resourceful. Whatever was needed was made."

"Yes," Elrond strode from the room, calling to Erestor to follow. Within moments they reached the apothecary. Erestor helped him with the medical supplies. Elrond would let none other assemble the needed materials. He had to stop, every now and again, to steady himself. To gather what was possibly needed, he had to consider the injuries; the imagined torture of his beloved Celebrían weakened him to the point of near collapse. Erestor did not seem to notice: methodical as ever, he pulled bottles, salves, tinctures, and herbs from the shelves and placed them into a large basket. If the circumstances had been different, if what they gathered were not for the Silver Lady of Imladris, they both would have found it amusing as Erestor muttered absently to himself. Amusement was far from their thoughts this day.

When their work was completed and the basket had been given off to place on the packhorse, Erestor turned to Elrond. "Will you not rest for at least an hour?"

"Nay. We leave within the hour. Tell your captains to be ready. I go to Arwen to finish the preparations and then we leave."

~*~

"We take two hundred with us. I will not tempt fate again." Celeborn's face was hard. He could feel the muscles drawn taut across his forehead and on his cheeks. His lips had fused into a small, thin line, tight with deep pain.

Galadriel nodded to him in acceptance and he watched as she sent for Haldir. The Elf-warden for the northern borders appeared within moments. "Are your troops ready?" she asked him.

"They are, my Lady. The packhorses are ready also. I deemed it best to have two hundred of our best ready for this march. Is that acceptable?"

Celeborn mounted. "No further delay then. Let us be off."

They rode straight and true, with no rests taken, except for the few times their horses required it. They ate astride their mounts. The Silver Elf noted that the horses seemed to be in as much of a hurry as he was. At each forced stop, his own mount rested and drank but little before he began to stomp and whinny. Celeborn's heart clenched in heartfelt wonder at these moments, as the realization of his beloved Mithrellas' loyalty filled him.

Halfway to the Pass, a rider hailed them. He offered Celeborn a pouch. As he opened the missive, Celeborn's hands shook. It was from Elladan. She had been found. She was alive. His short moment of joy and triumph over the evil that had taken her quickly turned into one of fear. The note was terse, but stated Elladan thought his grandfather should come as quickly as possible, not to Imladris, but to the Caradhras Pass. Celebrían was too weak to travel.

Celeborn thrust the missive into his tunic and waved the band forward. The messenger joined the group. He felt Galadriel at his side, waiting for some news, but his heart was so shaken by the feeling of despair that had assailed it the moment he had opened the note, that he dared not speak. As ever, she waited upon him.

For days they rode until at last they were across the Pass. Haldir motioned and the company spread out, searching for Elladan and Elrohir's encampment. A soft whistle and Celeborn stiffened. They had arrived.

It was Glorfindel who met them. Celeborn raised an eyebrow in surprise but dismounted and followed Elrond's seneschal. He motioned and Haldir stepped in front of Galadriel, effectively blocking her. "Stay," Celeborn whispered. 'Oh, she will be angry with me, but I must see my sell first.' He knew he was being foolish; his grandsons would have cleaned her and dressed her wounds. It would not be too difficult to look upon her. He choked at the thought. Glorfindel stopped, never looking at him, and waited. When Celeborn had recovered, he moved forward.

She lay on a pallet that rested upon a cloak. Elrohir held her hands. He could not see Elladan, but knew the boy was somewhere close by. Glorfindel touched the younger ellon on the shoulder and Celeborn started at a face so totally changed from the last time he had seen his grandson. Tear marks covered his face; his eyes were shadowed; his mouth was twisted with pain.

Elrohir kissed his mother's hand, then stood and ran to Celeborn, embracing him fiercely and sobbing uncontrollably.

"Sh. She will be well. Let me see to her."

"Nay. You must not look upon her. She will not let us touch her. She still has blood... and such upon her. You cannot look."

"She is my sell, Elrohir. Step aside and let me go to her."

Glorfindel reached out and took Elrohir, physically, from his grandfather. Celeborn nodded his thanks and walked forward. He closed his eyes for a moment as he stood over the litter, then he knelt and looked fully upon her.

"Ah," he whispered as tears fell. "Beloved. How you have suffered." He bowed his head and wept. Finally, he felt Elladan kneeling next to him. "You have done well, Elladan. You have rescued her."

"I know not if it is in time, Adadhron. She will not wake. She screams if we touch her. Elrohir tried to clean her a bit, but she wails and thrashes. We have been afraid we would hurt her if we continued."

"You did well." He splayed his fingers before him, then took a deep breath. "Is Elrond coming?"

"We sent a messenger. He should be here shortly."

"Good. Help me list her wounds. When he comes, it will enable him to decide what is the best treatment for her."

The ellon nodded. Glorfindel stepped up to him. "If I may, I will write the wounds down."

Celeborn nodded, then turned his attention to Celebrían. Another deep breath, a bitten lip, and he began. He started with her scalp, listing the torn pieces of skin, the burn wounds, the bite marks. Then he called out the wounds upon her face and her... ears. She had almost none left. What remained of her beautiful, ethereal ears was detailed. "What is left of them is quite swollen. She must have been hit or the ears boxed many times. I wonder if she can hear."

"As often as we spoke to her, Adadhron, she gave no notice that she heard. I thought it was that she did not understand, but I think you must be right. She is deaf." His voice broke on the last word.

By this time, Elrohir had returned to his vigil, holding his mother's hand in his own across from Celeborn. He spoke not a word, but wept quietly.

"Her nose is broken. What is this? Ai, they have stuffed it with mud so that she can only breathe with her mouth." He swallowed, cleaned the nostrils out as best he could, then continued his assessment. "The cut on her forehead must be stitched, but it is not infected, not yet. This one under her eye is in need of stitches also. You say she has not opened her eyes?"

"Nay."

He pulled the right eye's lid up and fell back in horror. Elrohir screamed, as did Elladan. He shook his head, pulled himself together again, and lifted it once more. The eyes were engulfed in blood. Not a bit of the white of the eye could be seen. He took Elrohir's hand in his own. "It is terrible to look upon, but it is only the little paths of the natural blood in the eyes that are broken. They will heal. It is difficult to look upon." He splayed his fingers again. "Hold her hand again, Elrohir. I am sure it gives her comfort."

"Now, let us continue. Her lip is bitten. It will need stitching here and here. Her neck is strangely bereft of bruises." He lifted the blanket and gasped. "Her breasts are in need of much sewing," he whispered. "The nubs are gone. She does not need them any longer. Elrond and she planned for no more children. She will not need them for suckling." Tears began to course down his face once again. "The stomach is free from cuts, but it seems bruised. She may have bleeding inside. Write that down, Glorfindel. Her right arm is broken in two places. See how the bone protrudes here. Her right hand is crushed. They must have stepped on it. Her left wrist is broken, but the hand is intact. There are chains?"

"We did not take them off yet. We have no tools here. Adar should be bringing some with him. I requested smithy tools."

'She will bear scars like unto Maedhros.' Celeborn remembered seeing the red-haired Elf's wrist, one time, and shuddered at the story behind the chains of Morgoth.

Elladan offered him a drink.

Celeborn knelt back on his haunches and gratefully accepted the flask of water. He drank for a moment, steeling himself for the next part. The part he knew would destroy him.

"Elrohir, go to your Nanadhril. See if she needs anything. She should not be alone."

"Nay, Adadhron. I have cleaned Naneth in those places you will now inspect. I have seen everything. You need not protect me."

"She will be sad to know you have seen the violation. She will wish you had been spared this."

Elrohir clutched Celebrían's hand tighter. "It could not be helped," he choked out. "She was naked when we found her."

Celeborn replaced the blanket on the upper part of Celebrían's body and moved the blanket from her hips. Her opening was torn. He doubted it could ever be sewn back into some semblance of normalcy. He moved the lips back and discovered that the organ for urinating was still intact. 'A small blessing.' He parted her legs, grimacing at the claw marks on the inner thighs. Deep gouges encompassed her genitals. Though Elrohir had claimed he had washed her, the area was still covered in blood and... He closed his eyes for a moment. 'and seed. Why am I surprised? Why am I shocked?' He bit his lip and touched her nether hole. It was twice the size it should have been. Blood still slowly dripped from it. "She will need to be sewed inside also. Write that down, Glorfindel."

He draped the cloth over her. "The left leg is broken in three places and the knee is pulled from its socket. The right leg has a break right at the calf and the foot is smashed." He moved to inspect her feet and discovered the bottoms were raw. "She must have been forced to walk a long way barefoot. Write that down, Glorfindel." He finally broke. Starting to sob, he turned from her. "Cover her and see if she will take some water," he managed to choke out.

Elladan held his hand and helped him stand. "Take a breath, Adadhron."

Celeborn nodded, but found his throat choked with grief and horror. He tried to swallow but to no avail. Elladan handed him the flask again and he managed a few sips. "Thank you. How do we keep this from your Nanadhril?"

"We do not. She has probably seen it in her mirror."

He nodded in surprise. "She told me she could not see her, but she could," he whispered. "She was protecting me."

"She does that sometimes," Elladan smiled through his own tears. "But she cannot protect us from everything."

"Nay. She cannot. Stay with your Naneth, Elladan. I will go to her."

Glorfindel stepped in front of the Lórien Elf. "There is a fire and food. Bring her to it. The company will move away so you may have some privacy."

"Thank you."

Glorfindel walked with him to where Galadriel sat. "My Lady, would you follow me?"

She nodded as Celeborn's arms enfolded her. The forest lay silent and still. None of the warriors came close. They all stood back in respectful silence. At last, Galadriel controlled herself. "She is strong; she will survive, with our love and the love of Elrond and her children. She will walk again in the Golden Wood and pick the elanor and laugh."

"Of course she will."

~*~

A/N - 1) Troop - [Origin: 1535-45; < F troupe, OF trope, prob. back formation from tropel herd, flock (F troupeau), equiv. to trop- (< Gmc; see thorp) + -el « L -ellus dim. suffix ]  http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/troop.  2) Jury rig, emphasizes the temporary nature of a solution, and can imply an ingenious solution done with materials at hand. The origin of jury rig is nautical and dates to 1788. It is from the nautical term jury mast. This term dates to at least 1616 and refers to a temporary mast erected to hold sail when the normal mast has been lost due to storm or battle. http://www.answerbag.com/q_view/9245. Another source has this phrase date from the early 1600's. http://www.worldwidewords.org/qa/qa-jur1.htm. Some spellings have this as a hyphenated word, however the Encyclopedia Britannica keeps it as one word, which is what I have done here (though Word spell check does not recognize that.)  3) Apothecary as storehouse - A*poth"e*ca*ry\, n.; pl. Apothecaries. [OE. apotecarie, fr. LL. apothecarius, fr. L. apotheca storehouse, Gr. apo, fr. ? to put away; ? from + ? to put: cf. F. apothicaire, OF. apotecaire. See Thesis.] [Origin: 1325-75; ME (< OF) < ML apothécarius seller of spices and drugs, LL: shopkeeper, equiv. to L apothéc(a) shop, storehouse (< Gk apoth ké; see apo-, theca) + -arius -ary ] http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/apothecary  4) Grandfather/grandmother - there seems to be a controversy over what would have been the Sindarin term for this. I found one a long time ago, and have used it often, so I chose to continue with that use. I hope this did not 'pull' anyone from the tale, but if it is an error, then Tolkien is to blame. The term I use is Adadhron/Nanadhril.


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.

Story Information

Author: Alcardilme

Status: General

Completion: Complete

Era: Other

Genre: Drama

Rating: Adult

Last Updated: 07/26/10

Original Post: 08/14/08

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