8. Celebrimbor's Folly Part Four
“Amdir,” Celeborn’s voice was sharp, “I see no honour in sitting safely here while Oropher sheds his blood to secure the paths!”
“My Lord Celeborn, you do not understand the King’s burden,” Haldir spoke menacingly.
Celeborn retorted, “Is the King’s burden to let another King sacrifice his elves for the sake of common safety? Marchwarden, I know not how you could retreat when the orcs arrived on the Elf paths leaving our Green wood kin to fend for themselves! But enough of that, Green wood is in grave peril. If you would not think of them, think atleast of your people, Amdir! If Oropher falls, then Lórien stands alone. And what shall we do then?”
Amdir shrugged uneasily, “Oropher will not fall, Celeborn. We cannot risk our warriors in war, not when we are alone. I had expected Elrond’s host to reinforce Lórien. But they are determined to continue their folly in Eregion. I cannot now spare our strength to go and aid Oropher, not when he has not even asked for it.”
Celeborn snorted, “Amdir, when have you ever known Oropher to ask for aid?”
Amdir did not reply. Celeborn strode out of the flet fuming inwardly. Haldir’s arrogant smirk had not eased his temper. But as the cool breeze caressed his face, he felt concern for Oropher, his cousin, shadow all indigence and anger at Amdir. He knew Oropher must be in peril. What could he do to aid him? Tiredly, he rested his head against a tree bole.
“Ada?” Celebrían’s voice roused him out of his brooding.
“Yes, ‘Bria? Why are you not with your mother?” Celeborn asked wearily.
“Ada,” Celebrían’s voice was worried, “Will Oropher and cousin Thranduil be all right? I mean, all this fighting is happening the most in their homeland, isn’t it? Naneth said they need more warriors. Will the King send our elves? Anoriel was most worried and she is now with Naneth seeking counsel and comfort.”
Celeborn sighed, his wife had probably looked to the cursed mirror and seen something that worried her. That explained why she had sent their child out to seek him, something she could not do herself these days. He made up his mind. If Amdir would not aid Oropher, he, Celeborn would ride to join his cousin.
“Naneth said the roads are safe and that your mare will be turned out in an half-hour. She also said that you are to not waste time,” Celebrían said quietly, watching her beloved father’s anguished face turn determined, “Will you go to them, Adar?”
“They are our kin, ‘Bria,” Celeborn said in an equally quiet tone, “Not in good conscience can we turn our backs on them.”
Oropher watched his son mount his stallion again. As he tried to paste a smile onto his unwilling face, Thranduil stooped down and gathered Oropher’s right hand in his own ones.
Keeping eye contact with his father, he kissed the signet ring saying softly, “I will return to you, Ada, never doubt that ever.”
Oropher smiled and nodded mutely. His heart cried out as he watched his only son turn into a cold, heartless warrior who would kill to protect his land. The innocence was already lost.
Elrond watched Erestor and Glorfindel bicker.
“YOU ARE NOT COMING,” Glorfindel was yelling.
“Really, Glor, one would have never thought you capable of such drama,” Erestor said pleasantly, fastening the last links of his armor.
Elrond interceded as Glorfindel glowered at him, “Erestor, Lord Celebrimbor may have need of you.”
Erestor raised his eyebrow in a manner that reminded Elrond of Maedhros and said coolly, “The only person whom I am bound to obey is my King, who is not here. I ride with you, with the host of Lindon,” he bowed politely to them both before walking with his customary sedate pace towards the stables.
Galadriel watched her husband ride out of Lórien. His handsome face was determined and concerned. She sighed, how he reminded her of the proud Prince of Doriath who had wooed her so well. He had not changed. She had changed. Which explained why he sought out others for his pleasures. She shook her head firmly, it would not do to think of that now.
But she could not suppress a sob as she thought of her husband’s comfort seeking. Each night she would watch him in the mirror and cry broken-heartedly. For she loved him still. But she was not able to do her duty by him, the ring was draining her, the mirror was draining her, the gift of foresight was draining her. She had aged, but he had not. She breathed a silent prayer to the Valar to watch over her husband.
Gil-Galad fretted about in his study as he awaited the latest rider from Eregion. This was not how he had planned his wedding week to be. He sighed, he had wanted an idyllic fortnight with Erestor, to never get up from his bed. Thinking of Erestor made him grow warmer. Who would have thought that his serious Chief-Counsellor could be so talented in the arts of love? He shuddered pleasantly as he thought of their bonding night. He had been half inclined not to listen to Elrond and leave the room quickly to meet Galadriel. But Erestor, ah well, Erestor had seduced him so thoroughly and had been too confident for an untouched, inexperienced lover. The more he thought about that night, the more sure he was of Thranduil’s involvement. Erestor had a deep friendship with that Princeling. And so had Elrond. Gil-Galad could not for the life of him understand what his bonded mate and cousin saw in Oropher’s son. As far as he had noticed, Thranduil was a faithful copy of his arrogant, fearless father.
“My Lord,” an elf approached bearing three scrolls.
Gil-Galad took the parchment and bade him leave. Hastily, he opened the first one, it bore Amdir’s seal. He sighed, if the King of Lórien made yet another plea for aid, he would personally go there and have a few choice words with him.
“To The High King,
My Kingdom can defend itself as long as Oropher bears the brunt of the onslaught in Greenwood. But if he falls, then Lórien stands alone. By our alliances, I call upon Lindon to rise to the aid of my country.
Gil-Galad suppressed a snort, Oropher would break off all alliances with Amdir if he ever read this letter. Personally, he could not comprehend why Amdir was so heartlessly letting Oropher bear the attack alone. Granted, that Oropher was a convicted Noldor hater. But then Amdir belonged to the same category. He shook his head and proceeded to the next scroll. His face brightened as he saw the familiar handwriting of his bonded mate.
“To The High King of the Noldor,
I have reasons to fear that Green wood needs our aid. Celebrimbor refuses yet to desert Eregion. So we cannot in good conscience abandon the city and its innocents and ride to aid Oropher. I beg you to put aside past differences with the Sindar and send out a host to their aid. ( As soon as this war ends, I wish to return to your side and well, not leave on any diplomatic or military errand for an year!)
Respect, regards and love,
Your humble Chief counsellor.
(I did not take out the braids you put in my hair yet. But Glorfindel insists I adopt a ‘less intricate decoration’ for the battlefield. I shall not.)”
Gil-Galad lifted the parchment to his nostrils and left the familiar scent of fresh earth and ink waft into his nose. He had no intentions of sending a host to Oropher. An unasked for aid would only make matters worse between them. Taking a deep breath, he opened the third scroll, which, curiously was addressed to his counsellor.
I have always been frank, so I say simply, we need aid. Convince your tawny lion to send out your army. I sent a message to Elrond too, but I think he is yet in Eregion. The paths are heavily under attack. They are burning the forest. Amdir has secured his realm and left us to deal with all else. We cannot hope to hold the southern edges, the river, the passes in the mountains, the forest road and our realm all at once. Ada is worried, but mercifully remains unaware of the entire situation.
Gil-Galad automatically called for Lord Círdan and said briskly, “Prepare our entire host leaving out only the patrols. You must lead the army to Greenwood.”
“Oropher,” Círdan began.
“He will not be in charge at the field. The Princeling is the one riding the war,” Gil-Galad said tersely, “We cannot let our follies stand in the way of saving our allies. Enough doom rests upon us as it is.”
Elrond and Glorfindel led out the depleted host of Eregion into battle. The orc host sneered at the reduced numbers. The elves were soon joined by the Númenorians under Prince Aldor. They combined forces and the battle began.
“Kill them all!” Glorfindel exhorted his troops, as he raised his sword in defiance, “FOR ELBERETH! FOR VALINOR! FOR THE FIRST BORN!”
Soon they were fighting with the first line of the enemy host. Elrond soon lost sight of Erestor and Glorfindel as he dodged, parried, thrusted and killed one orc after another. Around him elvish longbows sang true as arrows brought down orcs and wargs alike with deathly precision. ‘Atleast something good came out of Thranduil’s stay in Lindon’, Elrond mused as he grimly noted the improved archery skills of his men.
A few hours later, Elrond’s armour was blood splattered and broken, his strokes less forceful and his body bruised and wounded. His mare was also tiring. Clearly his half-human heritage was making an unwelcome appearance. Shaking himself to dispel his weariness, he concentrate on the battle. That was when a shadow fell on him and a high pitched shriek pierced his ears.
“NAZGUL!,” the elves around him said panickedly, “Archers!”
A huge black serpent like bird landed before Elrond, who had lost all sense of surroundings. Around him, orcs and elves were smashed alike to death by the ugly creature. Elrond’s mare tried to bolt, but he held it steady.
“Peredhel,” a high, sneering voice issued from a black cloaked figure atop the beast, “Why do you tarry among elves, half-blood?” Elrond felt a black envelope filling his mind, throwing out all light and hope. Life was empty. He just had to let go into the void. He fell from his mare. Hands caught him before he reached the ground, however. He frowned. He had enough, he wanted escape from all of this. He was dimly aware of being placed on his mount again.
“Stand aside, for I shall show no mercy to those who stand between me and my victim,” the voice warned.
“Nor shall I,” a cool voice spoke quietly.
Elrond heard the twang of a hundred bows and the high pitched wail of the Nazgul’s mount. He could hear Glorfindel’s voice raised high in defiance. He was gently lifted and placed before someone on another mount. The voice that had defied the Wraith said soothingly, “It is all fine, Elrond, you are safe.”
Elrond drifted off into the darkness smiling. It was so easy to let go of everything. A warm essence crept into his heart suffusing him with light, joy and hope. The darkness devouring his soul fought wildly. But the warmth refused to leave.
“What?” Elrond grumbled.
“Fight it, , Do not give in,” the warmth exhorted him.
“’Restor?” Elrond mumbled.
“Yes, Elrond. Come back to us. Do not give in,” the warmth pleaded.
“Anything for you, my love. Melin lle,” Elrond replied and his eyes focussed sharply as a part of his subconscious realized what he had spoken. Automatically, he blocked Erestor out of his thoughts and gasped, “You should not have done that! You risked your life, you could have been pulled into the void with me.”
“It was worth it,” Erestor said quietly, “I was so scared I would lose you.”
They were still riding Erestor’s stallion and seemed to miles away from the battle. Elrond leaned against Erestor surreptiously relishing the warmth of the other body. Warmth?
He turned around and demanded, “ Where is your armour?” It was then that he realized that their lips were scant inches apart. He turned abruptly reining in his unruly impulses.
“I’m afraid I’ll have to get another mail suit,” Erestor said easily, “It broke under the Nazgul blade.”
Elrond gasped as he realized its full implications, “The wound,” he demanded anxiously, “We should see to it now.”
“Really Elrond!” Erestor said indignantly, “I’m not a hero like Glorfindel to hide my wounds! Or in the first place, to get wounded! I slipped out of the armor when I saw the blow land, luckily the mail suit was too large for me.”
“Still, I insist on a check,” Elrond said dubiously as he noted the other elf’s pallor in the moonlight, “Where are we riding for? Eregion does not lie this way!” he added as he noted the unfamiliar surround.
“We are riding for Eregion,” Erestor said in a testily.
“I have never ridden this way before,” Elrond said doubtfully, “Are you clear-”
“Yes, indeed!” Erestor said huffily, “I have paid sufficient attention to my geography classes! Now sit quiet and let me sing you to sleep, Lord Herald, unless you want to wear my patience thin by more unnecessary queries!”
Soon Elrond was transported back to his childhood when Maglor would sing two unhappy elflings to sleep. Erestor’s voice had the same rich, deep, melodious tenor moving Elrond into dreams of his days with his foster father, when he had felt safe despite the constant nomadic travels and attacks.
Elrond woke only when they were in the keep of Eregion and Celebrimbor’s loud voice broke in his reverie, “What happened to him?”
“Nazguls, my Lord,” Erestor said tersely, “We were separated from the main flanks.”
“Let me send for the healers to attend to him,” Celebrimbor said uneasily.
Elrond focussed his eyes wearily and said firmly, “No, My Lord, I’m all right. Just have someone show me to a bed. I am tired, that is all.”
Celebrmbor nodded and a young elf came to take Ebony’s reins from Erestor. Elrond managed to jump down though with less than his customary grace and watched Erestor dismount stiffly suppressing a wince.
As the door closed behind them, Elrond rounded on Erestor and demanded, “I know you are hiding a wound, ,” he crossed his arms seeing Erestor’s too innocent expression, “I am a healer as well as a warrior!”
Erestor mumbled, “Sharp eyes.”
Elrond raised an eyebrow.
Erestor said reluctantly, “On the left thigh, a warg bite. It has stopped bleeding. I think it will heal soon.”
“I shall decide that,” Elrond washed his hands in the basin before spreading his medical supplies on the bed neatly.
Erestor shrugged as he removed his blood splattered tunic and then threw on a light nightshirt before removing his bloodied leggings. An ugly, dark clotted smudge of blood spoiled the otherwise marble pale flesh on his thigh.
“Lie down,” Elrond said soothingly. As Erestor complied, Elrond started to clean and bind the wound, trying to make his touches as brief and methodical as possible. Not for the first time, he envied his blessed cousin.
“Both of us should get some sleep tonight,” Erestor said tiredly, rolling over to an end of the small cot and patting the empty area.
Elrond would not have agreed to share a cot with his desire on an usual day, but his half human nature left him nodding exhaustedly and he plopped onto the rough mattress wordlessly.
Celebrimbor watched the moon in the clear skies from his study window. The ancient smith’s face was lined with worry. He took a deep breath. He knew what he had to do. Emerging out of his study, he asked an aide, “Bring the Lord Erestor to me immediately.”
“Naneth,” Celebrían said anxiously as she watched a single silvery tear trail down her mother’s cheek, “Are you all right? Did you see something in the mirror?”
Galadriel smiled bitterly and said, “All useful things are dangerous, my daughter. Never may you wield one.”
“Anoriel is worried about cousin Thranduil and her kin, Lord Elrond,” Celebrían informed her.
Galadriel nodded, but did not offer any words of comfort as she pondered what she had foreseen.
Oropher was walking alone in his gardens when he heard the hooves of a single mount. Frowning, he turned back as the rider came into view. Dishevelled, dirty and blood spattered, an elf dismounted and rushed towards him. Oropher’s heart lightened as he saw the dancing blue eyes and silver hair of his cousin.
“Celeborn,” he said simply, letting himself be embraced and he rested his head on the Lórien Lord’s shoulder, “Thank you for coming.”
“Cousin, I could never stay away if my heart tells you are in peril,” Celebron sighed as he tightened his embrace, “What happened to you? It is no only the threat of Sauron that despairs you?”
Oropher saw no reason for pretending courage before his cousin and said quietly, “Ingwë has forgiven me and asks for my son to be sent to Valinor. Thranduil refused to go, Celeborn, he will become world weary like me, I cannot have that.”
Celeborn sighed, “The will of the Valar cannot be thwarted, cousin. I too am world weary. If it was not for the forest, I would have taken a ship long ago.”
“Your wife cannot accompany you,” Oropher stated bluntly, “She had the doom upon her yet. Will you be able to leave her?”
Celebron smiled bitterly, “She would not care either way.”
In her mirror Galadriel watched sorrowfully.
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.