38. A Vale of Blood Part Four
“Glad to see you standing,” Glorfindel pushed his way through the throng of warriors to Erestor, who was calmly counting the corpses and jotting down their names on a piece of parchment.
Erestor smirked but did not look up, his friend’s voice reassuring him of his uninjured state. Elrond joined them and clasped Glorfindel’s arm in a gesture meant to provide as well to receive solace. Erestor looked up and nodded to himself taking in Elrond’s uninjured form.
“You left out a few lying to our right,” Glorfindel said sarcastically as he peered at the list over Erestor’s shoulders, “You do know that you are worse than a carrion bird!”
“Indeed, Glor,” Erestor raised an eyebrow, “You bring me someone who will take this upon himself and I will stop.”
“Unfortunately, Lord Erestor,” Glorfindel smirked, “Nobody is as cold-blooded as you.”
“I do what I need to do,” Erestor said reprovingly, “Make yourself useful or leave me alone!”
“Thranduil will fight from the next battle, I hear, he will come out of mourning this week,” Elrond remarked as he surveyed the battlefield to make sure that there was none he could help with his healing skills.
“I hope not,” Erestor sighed sadly, “Amroth has left and Amdir is wounded. Celeborn has enough tasks with their absence. If Thranduil fights then the silver tree will have to take on more responsibilities. Our friend has always been a risk taker.”
“I heard about the episode with the wraiths from Gildor,” Elrond said furiously and turned to Glorfindel, “Did you know that he charged on two wraiths alone?”
Glorfindel turned to ask Erestor incredulously, “Is he right?”
“Are you accusing dear Elrond of lying?” Erestor raised an eyebrow before returning to his count.
Glorfindel said angrily, “I will speak with Gil concerning this! One of these days you will pay for your recklessness, Erestor!”
“Is heroism confined to your domain?” Erestor spoke innocently before resuming his toll unperturbed.
Glorfindel opened his mouth to retort, but a rider hastened across the plains, dressed in the green and brown colours of Greenwood. The rider pressed a scroll in Erestor’s hands before hurrying towards Celeborn’s troops on the far side of the plains.
Erestor cleared his throat and said softly as his eyes scanned the unsealed scroll, “Amdir has left us for Mandos’s halls. Thranduil will need us.”
Thranduil dressed himself hastily in white robes, it was the second time he was wearing them. He sighed as he tried to provide Anoriel whatever succour he could through their bond. Amroth was fading. Amdir was dead. Thranduil wondered how she could possibly cope with this.
“Are you sure that you are strong enough to do this?” Celeborn asked quietly as he entered the tent.
“Yes, Celeborn,” Thranduil said firmly, “His son is not here, none of his kin are here. I am the closest to him, and moreover he asked it of me as his last wish.”
“Valar save us all from further losses,” Celeborn said softly, “Amdir asked me to take your command in the matters of the army.”
“I know,” Thranduil sighed as he strapped his belt, “I pray that I can lead us all out again.”
Gil-Galad watched Elrond lead their warriors in silent procession to the funeral field. He followed his herald with the nobles of their realm, his brow heavy with sorrow and fears.
Thranduil lit his second pyre in forty days. His face was harsher than it had been at the beginning of their journey east. He was as handsome as before, but the fire in his eyes had been replaced by a coldness that was forbidding and distant. The barracks did not resound with his melodious laughter anymore.
Elrond said clearly after they had all been summoned in the high-king’s tent, “We hold the Vale and the gates. We should press on and use our advantage while we can.”
“Yes,” the leader of the dwarves agreed, “Our warriors lose spirit with each passing day spent in this valley. Our leaders are falling.”
Elendil bowed in assent, “True, my lords. Yet my warriors would have a few days of rest and peace before they fight again.”
Gil-Galad nodded thoughtfully before saying, “What do you say, Lord Thranduil? You are to make the decision not only for your own realm, but for Lothlórien also.”
Thranduil rose to his feet gracefully, the black robes of morning floating about him gently, and said in an unwavering voice, “It is so, Lord High-King. I have decided to send back home the direly wounded and the weary of both my realm and Amroth’s. The remaining forces I shall club together and fight for our cause.”
“Who will lead them?” Isildur asked quietly, “You are in mourning.”
Thranduil met his eyes calmly saying, “Prince of Gondor, I will lead the warriors in forty days when I am finished with the rites and the mourning. Before that, Greenwood and Lothlórien will not lift their swords.”
“That will deplete our strength,” Gildor frowned, “Mayhap it is better for us all to rest for the forty days.”
They broke after the meeting. Elrond ran to intercept Thranduil before he could leave.
“You have been avoiding me,” he accused as he fell into step with the king, “I wish for an explanation, Thranduil.”
Thranduil said forlornly, “I have not been deliberately doing that, Elrond. I am merely trying to cope with all of this. At times like these, I feel out of my depth. I did not wish to make you endure my torments.”
Elrond pulled him into a nearby tent, which was empty fortunately. He hugged Thranduil tightly whispering, “I loved him too.”
“True,” Thranduil relaxed into the hug, “But I loved him more, Elrond. And I have not yet accepted that it is over. You will stay with me tonight?”
“Of course!” Elrond said softly, “You have to ask me?”
“I am afraid that I am in need of more than normal consolation tonight, Elrond,” Thranduil sighed, “I need to forget everything. I need senseless pleasure.”
“I am in more or less the same mood,” Elrond whispered heatedly into his friend’s ears, “To just feel without trying to understand. But I must remind you of your vow to your bonded mate.”
Thranduil released his hold on Elrond’s shoulders and stepped back sadly saying, “That is true. I cannot. I am sorry, Elrond. If I could-”
“Don’t,” Elrond raised a hand in protest, “You made a promise and we know that Thranduil Oropherion always keeps his promises’, he smiled tenderly before kissing Thranduil chastely on the forehead and whispered, “I will leave now. But never think twice to approach me should you need me whatever the matter is.”
How Elrond wished that he had been less noble. But he could never do a wrong by Anoriel how much ever he wanted Thranduil’s company.
Elrond watched Glorfindel walk away sullenly from the tent he shared with Gildor.
“What is it, Glorfindel?” he joined his friend, “Are you in mood for company?”
Glorfindel tilted his head thoughtfully before replying with his customary frankness, “I would talk with Erestor if I could. But, no, Elrond, I am not in a mood for your company, however much I love it.”
Elrond tossed about in his large, extra-large, bed waiting for a repose that never came. Sighing, he slipped on a tunic and walked out. In the dim starlight, a hooded figure stood before him.
“Thranduil,” Elrond whispered as he stood by to let the king in, “What of you vow to her?”
“She has given me leave,” Thranduil spoke softly, a gentle smile gracing his lips, “Now take me to the lands of peace and ecstasy, Elrond.”
Gil-Galad watched his herald walk slowly, carefully suppressing a wince whenever he increased the pace.
“Are you hurt?” the king asked his much younger cousin imperiously.
Elrond turned to face him. There was a fresh look in his grey eyes and a happier aura. Gil-Galad frowned, “Elrond, come nearer.”
Elrond approached slowly, biting his lip as he took a longer stride.
Glorfindel and Erestor, who had been talking softly with each other, turned to observe the proceedings. Erestor raised an eyebrow at Elrond smirking.
Glorfindel remarked, “I hope it is not your dastardly kin, Elrond.”
Elrond blushed before muttering, “It is not. Gil, I am fine. It is just over-exertion.”
“Stay in bed then,” Gil-Galad said worriedly, “You look ill-rested.”
“Are you sure that a bed is the best place to send him, my lord?” Glorfindel said teasingly, “That is how he came to be in this sorry state.”
“ELROND!” Thranduil strode quickly to their midst, dressed in one of Elrond’s own tunic and leggings, he winced in pain as he ran, “Celeborn has asked me to see him urgently. I must go.”
Gil-Galad raised his eyebrows saying quietly, “I did not think that you would repeat it with him. He is a king now and bonded to the princess of Lothlórien. Don’t you dare jeopardise his personal life! After the lengths his father went to avenge that Isildur incident, I am surprised that you would repeat the same folly!”
“Gil,” Elrond frowned, “I would never risk his personal life! And anyway it was nothing more than mutual solace.”
“Keep this away from Celeborn’s ears,” Gil-Galad muttered to his cousin darkly before walking away. He paused a few paces away and turned back to his herald saying, “Would you mind if Erestor moved in with you from tonight?”
“It is simple reasoning,” Erestor explained as he unbraided his hair before turning in for the night, “He will ride for battle from tomorrow. And he doesn’t want distractions at night in his tent.”
Elrond asked curiously, “But you are so quiet, I never hear the sound of your comings and goings.”
“I am not so quiet always,” Erestor offered before dousing the lamp and slipping into the bed beside Elrond.
Elrond forcefully pulled his mind away from the very creative imaginings it was drawing. Erestor continued, blissfully oblivious to his companion’s distress, “And I must say that you were very loud. Thranduil is intoxicating, but even so, you were loud. I had a hard time dispersing the guards before your tent this dawn.”
Elrond said disgruntled, “ Is there anything in the camp that you are not aware of?”
“Oh, yes,” Erestor said laughing softly, the sound a balm to Elrond’s ears, “Glorfindel and Gildor have fought, I do not know the reason yet.”
Glorfindel’s voice sounded from the tent opening, “’Restor, Are you asleep?”
Erestor got up from his bed muttering furiously, “And I was unhappy that I was unaware of the reason! I should learn to stop wishing.”
Elrond did not know when Erestor had arrived, but when he woke from his sleep, he saw the counsellor sleeping next to him, eyes closed in exhausted sleep. Glorfindel had worn him out.
Elrond indulged himself as his fingers threaded through the sleeping elf’s long dark hair. Erestor smiled in his sleep as Elrond’s fingers brushed his neck and snuggled closer.
“He is so peaceful in his sleep,” Gil-Galad murmured as he came to stand by the bed.
Elrond hastily withdrew his hands saying, “You ride today, cousin?”
“Yes, Elrond,” Gil-Galad sighed, “I cannot let Glorfindel and Isildur ride together. Sauron would not need to even stir from his lands to win the battle.”
They remained silent, the only sound the steady rise and fall of Erestor’s chest. Gil-Galad sighed again and kissed Erestor’s cheek chastely before nodding to Elrond and leaving the tent. Elrond shook his head at his own folly at being caught while secretly playing out a fantasy. He groaned as he determinedly slipped out of his bed. Erestor’s robe had parted open as the elf turned in his sleep. The fine rib bones jutted against his skin in obvious proof of Erestor’s emaciation. Elrond felt a sudden wave of tenderness lap against his heart. He strode out of the tent, the cold winds soothing his flushed, hot skin.
“Marchwarden, I must ask you to take a suitable force and bring our prince Amroth here. He is sick and fast fading,” Galadriel asked Haldir, as she entered his talan.
“He has to be crowned,” Haldir said softly, his fair features contorted by grief for his fallen King.
“Yes,” she said determinedly, “but it shall be under our mallorn. We will not crown our ruler in Mordor.”
“Thranduil was crowned thus,” Haldir said coldly, “And the command of our elves has been given to him!”
“Our wounded and weary elves are returning with the sick prince,” Galadriel said, “We must concentrate our resources to save their lives. Let Thranduil be guided by Eru to save the rest.”
“How many more will fall?” Haldir said as if to himself before taking leave of her. She stood alone, the wind rippling through the folds of her dress. She had forseen the fall of the one kin left to her on this side of the sea.
“What have you done, Celebrimbor?” Galadriel sighed in despair, “Who of us will repair your folly? Our houses are all but gone. Gildor and I are the last of my father’s line. He is heirless. My daughter will ever be more Sindar than Noldo, thank Eru for that. Elrond Peredhil is the last of Fingolfin’s house, he is more a healer and a scholar than a warrior,” her face twisted into a bitter expression, “And my uncle’s house! The dispossessed house, ever have they led us into peril. Celebrimbor, it was less your folly and more your cursed house’s fate that sealed your destiny.”
The wind became harsher. She took a deep breath and vowed, “By Eru, I will not let Sauron triumph as long as I draw breath. Whatever I sacrifice, I care not in the least if it will avenge the deaths of all parted from me. I will strive to save what remains of my grandfather’s kin at whatever cost. Enough have the house of Finwë sacrificed for the song of the Valar.”
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.