Ivoreth groaned as Ada lifted her down from Morrod's back yet again. "I thought I was better," she complained, giving the big black stallion his customary caress on the face before having her hair whiffled and her cheek lipped in return.
"You are," Ada confirmed with a chuckle. "At least you can stand on your own if needed right away. If you remember, you couldn't do that at all the first few nights out of Minas Tirith." His hands steadied her as she walked slowly in a circle until the tingles in her feet and legs had died back to a painful ache. "We will make certain that you spend a little time each day on horseback once you are settled in, so that you can begin to enjoy riding like a proper daughter of Imladris."
"I will keep riding Morrod?" she asked in surprise.
Ada's laugh was warm. "Although he's grown quite fond of you, and no doubt would allow you on his back without complaint, I think we shall have to find you a fit mount of your own. Something a little more your size would be better."
"Our Adar keeps a small herd of horses," Elrohir added, turning Raini loose and giving her a pat on the rear before reaching for the bundles on his own mount. "We shall have him take you out with him so you can find a four-legged friend to loan you their back."
Ivoreth stared back and forth at the both of them. "I... my own..."
But I don't deserve...
"Here." Ada had the flask with the tonic out, and Ivoreth obediently tipped her head up so that she could receive her swallow. He tucked the silver flask back into one of his bundles and handed her down the bedding rolls. "I don't want you wandering far after you finish setting up tonight, my daughter. The mountains are wilder than where we have been before, and some of the Enemy are believed to have found refuge in them."
Ivoreth stared around her. They were still surrounded with trees, although these trees were tall and with long and prickly needles that scratched her when she brushed through them instead of the flat and friendly leaves of the trees of Lothlórien. "Are we safe?"
"Safe enough," Haldir answered from beyond Celebriel, "provided you stay close to the fire and one of us." He gestured around him. "Wolves are known to hunt these woods, and we have always believed that a pack of wild wargs has a den not far to the north."
Ada put a comforting hand on Ivoreth's shoulders. "I would not want to lose you, sweetling, so no running off if you are distressed. Promise me."
"I will not run away," Ivoreth breathed her promise, utterly sincere.
Wolves? Wargs? Her eyes sought her little sister, and she breathed a sigh of relief to find the toddler happily investigating a stand of tall ferns near where Haldir was bending down to collect the first rocks for the fire circle. What if Raini wanders...
But no. Ivoreth checked several times as she straightened out the sleeping rolls of her family, and always found either her Ada, Elrohir, or one of the Galadhrim close to where Raini was playing. And even when Haldir ordered one of his men to take the water skins and fill them from the swift-running rill, she noted that one of the other Galadhrim straightened and accompanied his fellow warrior.
None of the Elves were relaxed, and as the evening wore on, Ivoreth's nervousness grew. Raini too finally caught wind of the wariness of those around her, and the child settled into Celebriel's lap near the fire and stared around her with wide eyes as the darkness fell. Even the songs that began softly among the Galadhrim and eventually drew in Ada and the others didn't offer the same level of comfort as always. Ivoreth huddled close to her Ada, grateful for the warm arm about her shoulders as her eyes grew heavy from the day's exertions.
"Ivoreth! Ivoreth! Awake!" A heavy hand was shaking her shoulder as Ivoreth slowly emerged from her dreams.
"Ada?" She sat up and rubbed at her eyes and then looked out in fright into the darkness that surrounded her. Her Ada's face glowed very softly over her. "What's wrong?"
"Up now, and come closer to the fire," Ada directed without answering her question. Elrohir and Rumil, another of the Galadhrim, were adding more wood to the fire and stirring it to reawaken the flames. Celebriel, with a still sleeping Raini in her arms, quickly joined her there, although Ivoreth was astonished to see that the hand the elleth did not have wrapped around Raini's body held a heavy branch that was burning.
"Here." Ada pressed a similar weapon into her hand. He crouched down in front of her, the light of the flames reflecting on his face. "Protect your sister," he told her and then bent forward to kiss her forehead. "Keep your back to the larger fire, whatever you do."
Ada, what's happening?
Ivoreth stared at the burning branch in her hand. It was almost half the length of her forearm, and there was a small wad of what looked like cloth at the end that fueled the flames. But before she could take the time to look at it more closely, she heard a low growling from somewhere in the darkness; and at first a few red points drew slowly closer, and then more of them. Ivoreth shuddered and pressed closer to Celebriel. In front of her, four of the six Elves had long knives and swords bared and at the ready, and Haldir and Rumil stood with arrows pointing out and bowstrings drawn tight.
A loud snarl came from her left, and Haldir turned and let fly and had another arrow nocked and ready to go almost immediately in one smooth and rapid movement. The snarl became a sharp cry of pain, and Ivoreth heard the sound of something heavy falling to the ground just before the darkness erupted into growls and snarls. Heavy furred bodies leapt forward, and were met with the flash of shining metal and the twangs of bowstrings.
Ivoreth heard Raini scream out in terror and struggle to get free from Celebriel's hold, and turned to watch in horror as Celebriel had to drop her burning branch to keep the baby from dashing out towards the fighting. The sounds of arrows being loosed, and the swish of swords through the air combined with the shrieks of pain and anger from the attackers to make Ivoreth freeze with panic at first, and then move toward her sister and the elleth. Her mind hung onto her Ada's last direction, and she kept her back to the leaping flames of the bonfire, despite the horrid glimpses of blood and gore and the glint of bloodstained blades flashing in the firelight. But none of the beasts made it anywhere close to where she and Celebriel stood, and eventually the horrible sounds of shrieks and roars and growls died away, leaving only the snapping of the flames to break the silence.
"Are you all right?" Ada demanded, stalking over to them, kicking aside fur-covered obstacles in his path.
"We're fine," Celebriel answered immediately, leaning into him the moment he was close enough to touch.
Ada reached out his other arm and dragged Ivoreth to him as well. "We need to make certain they're all dead," he stated tiredly and then smiled down at Ivoreth. "You can take good care of your sister for a little while longer, so Celebriel can help us, can't you? Just stay close to the fire, where it's safer."
Ivoreth nodded, and Celebriel handed Raini down into her arms the moment Ivoreth had tossed her burning branch into the bonfire. Raini immediately began squirming to get down, and Ivoreth let her down but got a very firm and tight grasp on her sister's hand so that the little girl wouldn't wander. She watched warily as the Elves moved through the mounds of fur, toeing and prodding with blades to make certain nothing would move or threaten again. Cautiously, she led her sister to the other side of the fire, as far from the blood and the beasts that had tried to eat them as she could get.
"Lemme go! Fire too hot!" Raini was pulling against Ivoreth's grip, trying to escape.
"Raini, stop! Ada told us to stay here!" Ivoreth's grip slipped, and she had to trot out to catch hold of her sister again to drag her back to the fire.
Suddenly, Ivoreth heard a new, higher pitched growling from not far away. Out of the brambles on this safer side of the fire came a much smaller beast, born on stiffened legs, with red and maddened eyes focused on the toddler as a target. Far too many sharp teeth protruded from behind lips drawn back in an evil-looking snarl that was uglier than anything she'd seen on the most vicious dog in Minas Tirith. The baby wasn't even aware of the danger she was in, and turned to glare at Ivoreth while pulling away from her sister in the direction of the new threat.
Ivoreth didn't even think, but picked up Raini and thrust her behind her and bent to pick up the first thing she could find as a weapon. As the snout tried to move past her, she brought the rock she held down hard just behind the black and wet nose. She heard a yip, and also saw those red and angry eyes turn and focus their ill intent on her. The maw with the yellowed and menacing teeth opened wide and came at her face with a sudden, violent thrust. She threw up her hands before her and screamed as the teeth embedded themselves in the soft flesh of her forearm and wrenched her hard, back and forth, making her drop the rock.
There was a flash of metal, and then Ivoreth was sprayed with a foul-smelling and warm liquid all over her face and arms, and the head separated from the body of the beast, loosening its hold on her arm. She pulled the ripped forearm into her body and folded herself over it with another agonized scream, not really paying attention to the tall Elf that towered over her to deal with the new threat with lethally practiced efficiency.
Chaos erupted yet again, but Ivoreth was no longer paying attention. All she knew was that her arm was on fire with pain and that she couldn't stop screaming. She never noticed being gathered into her Ada's arms. Somewhere in the middle of one of her screams, a bitter-tasting potion was dumped into her mouth, and after a while, a warm darkness loomed in her mind that swept away all sight and sound and pain.
Time lost all meaning. Once in a while, she would rouse slightly, just enough to know that her arm burned as if on fire; enough to notice that Morrod was moving even faster than he had before; enough to not quite choke on the water dribbled into her mouth, on another mouthful of the bitter potion, or on small bites of the cracker that dissolved into nearly nothing. She could sometimes hear Ada's voice singing to her, urging her to be strong. But she couldn't be strong. The darkness was much stronger than she was, and there was no pain there.
Her arm ached, but not with the burning agony she had known, and Ivoreth moaned a small complaint. Gentle hands and a soft, deep voice soothed her, lifted her and let a draught of fresh water moisten her tongue. Slowly her eyelids obeyed her order to open; and then she blinked several times to try to clear the fog from her vision. The soft voice spoke again, and then a dark-haired Elf was settling himself back down into the chair next to her bed.
"I have sent for him, young one," the Elf replied, scooting closer so she could see him more clearly. "Don't worry. He'll be here very soon."
Ivoreth stared. This Elf looked very much like her Ada - and yet, didn't. And there was the same look of ages in his eyes that Grandfather's eyes had possessed, and it confused her. "Ada..." she whimpered.
"He is coming," the strange Elf answered again, fingering back wayward tendrils of hair from her cheeks. "You are safe now. You are home, little daughter."
That's what Grandmother and Grandfather called me. You aren't Grandfather! I don't know you...
"She's awake?" she heard Ada's voice demand, and then he was sitting on the bed next to her. "There you are! Welcome back."
"Ada..." she reached for him with her good arm and cast a distrustful glance in the direction of the other Elf, who merely smiled gently at her.
Ada pulled her into his arms very carefully, as if realizing how painful her arm was. "I was beginning to fear for you," he murmured into her hair. "We have spent many hours to make certain you would have use of your arm when it heals, and yet you would never awaken for us. I have missed you, little one."
"I shall leave you to your reunion," the strange Elf told Ada, rising from his chair. "I have willow bark prepared for her; you will need to give it to her before you leave. We will have to watch her closely, now that the poppy juice is finally wearing off." Ivoreth watched him leave the room, and felt relieved when he was gone. Relieved and incredibly tired.
"Where?" she managed, turning her face to her Ada's chest at last and closing her eyes to shut away everything but the familiar.
"We are home, Ivoreth. This is Imladris."
Wait! Where's Raini?
Ivoreth stirred herself as if to push away from him. "Raini..."
"Hush now. She's with Celebriel. She's fine; she wasn't hurt at all. You saved her, Celebriel tells me, and nearly gave your own life doing it." He kissed her forehead. "I am so proud of you, my daughter."
Saved Raini? I remember...
Ivoreth shuddered as the memory of snarls and ugly, threatening teeth filled her thoughts, made worse by the smell of the horrible, wet stuff that had sprayed her in the face. She whimpered and tried to press closer to her Ada in an effort to get away from the ugliness in her mind.
Make it go away, Ada!
"Hush," Ada soothed, rocking her in his arms. "All the wargs and wolves are dead, and you are safe in your new home. All is well."
But Ivoreth would not be comforted. The vision of snapping jaws and hungry, red eyes wouldn't leave her alone; she couldn't escape them, no matter which way she seemed to turn. In her efforts to huddle as close to Ada as she could get so he could protect her, she moved the arm that the monster had bitten - and cried out as a sharp agony tore it from elbow to wrist.
Ada held her very tightly, still mindful of the damaged arm, and began to sing to her. Someone else came into the room, and soon a mug was tipping little dribbles of bitter tea into her mouth and a deeper voice had joined Ada's in song. A gentle hand pressed insistently on her forehead, and Ivoreth felt the lure of slumber become too much to ignore. Wrapping her good hand as tightly as she could in Ada's robe, Ivoreth gave a shuddering sigh and submitted to sleep again.
The sounds of distant singing - soft and fragile voices lifted in harmony - finally penetrated Ivoreth's dreams, along with the sound of birds. She opened her eyes to find the room she was in lit brightly with sunlight pouring through a huge window. Turning her head toward the light, she looked out into a beautiful garden filled with colorful blooms and shady trees. Blinking, she moved her head on her pillow to take in the features of the room she was in, and her eyes lit on the face of the strange Elf that looked too much like her Ada who was sitting in a chair near her bed.
"Good afternoon, little daughter," he smiled at her. "Are you feeling better now?"
Who are you? Why do you call me that?
Ivoreth nodded and shifted slightly away from him, grimacing when her movement made her arm hurt again.
"I am your Ada's adar," the Elf continued in a soft and soothing tone. "I know we have not been properly introduced, but I assure you that you need not fear me. I am here because your Ada sat up with you all night and most of today, and I told him I would watch over you while he rested."
Ivoreth blinked again in surprise, remembering that Grandfather had told her that she had another Grandfather waiting for her in Imladris. This Elf, who looked no older or younger than Ada or Grandfather, was he that one?
"I have food for you, if you're hungry." Ivoreth followed the Elf's graceful hand movement to where it pointed to a tray covered with a napkin that sat on a small chest not far from the bed. "I think my cooks sent fruit and a muffin for you. Would you like to eat?"
Ivoreth nodded, finally awake enough to feel a hollowness in her stomach that reminded her more of waking in the cistern after days with no real food.
In a move that reminded Ivoreth of her first few encounters with Ada, the Elf rose, sat down on the bed next to her, and then very gently eased her up to lean against him while he rearranged her pillows. Once he had her settled into a more upright position, he reached out for the tray and placed it on her lap. He pulled the napkin from over the food and had it tucked into the neckline of her sleeping gown almost before she knew what he was doing.
The apple slices looked fresh and inviting, and there was indeed a muffin that sent wafts of spiced sweetness into the air.
The Elf moved back slightly, as if realizing his closeness made Ivoreth nervous. "Go ahead," he nodded in the direction of the food. "Help yourself."
Ivoreth glanced back and forth between the Elf and the food until a frustrated rumble from her stomach made her reach out for a slice of apple. The Elf grinned as she took a bite that divided the apple slice in half, and shifted himself back onto the chair next to the bed. "I'm thinking that you might like to get up a little later, after you've had some food and rested a bit more. Your little sister has been fussing about not being allowed to see you."
"Raini?" She popped the other half of the slice into her mouth and broke off a bite-sized portion of the muffin.
"Indeed. I believe Celebriel and Elrohir have been keeping her nicely entertained in the gardens, and she seems very happy to run and play there. It is good to hear the sounds of a child's laughter again." An intense blue-grey gaze caught and held hers. "It will be better when I can hear the laughter of two children rather than one. Imladris has missed such music for many years now."
He sounds so sad. Grandfather and Grandmother sounded sad too sometimes. Why? Is it because Grandmother is leaving?
Ivoreth managed to take several bites of her muffin while she watched him carefully pull a small linen bag from a steaming mug and then put a spoonful of honey into it. "When you are done with your meal," he told her when he noted her watching his every move, "you should finish this tea. It will help keep your arm from hurting you so badly and let you get restful sleep tonight. You will need it for a while, I'm afraid "
Ivoreth finally glanced down at her sore arm, not at all surprised to find it wrapped heavily in bandages. She tried to shift it and grimaced when it didn't want to move at all, and the ache grew worse again.
"I shall also give you a sling for it for daytime. You should not try to move it or use it at all for at least another week, to give everything a chance to mend before you do." The Elf - nobody had told her what to call him yet - lifted her chin with a finger so that she faced him directly. "You need to follow my instructions very carefully, little daughter; they are very important. Your arm was badly damaged; and if you try to use it before it has mended enough to bear the burden you would ask of it, you could damage it permanently."
Her eyes widened. She could remember some of the others from the cistern who hadn't been so lucky as to find shelter there before they had been hurt by falling stone or the strange flying fires that had rained down on the First Circle, or skewered by arrows. The worst injured had never healed properly, and so hadn't been able to do more than settle themselves down near where richer people walked to beg for coin to feed themselves. Most of them had slowly wasted away and died. She trembled, thinking that she didn't want to end up like that.
"I won't," she whispered her promise.
The Elf nodded, accepting her promise. He continued, "I also want you to tell your Ada or Uncle or me if your arm begins to hurt worse again - I know it probably aches all the time right now..."
Is he a healer too, like Ada?
"...but if you start having sharp pains, like a knife stabbing at you, you need to let us know right away."
Ivoreth nodded, starting to get frightened now.
"Now, now..." The Elf patted her knee through the blanket. "I didn't mean to frighten you, little one. It is just that it is very important that you play a part in your own healing - and a goodly share of that is being honest with your healers, doing as they tell you and letting them know when you hurt. Otherwise, well..." He shook his head. "You can ask your Ada about what happened when he didn't listen."
That got her attention. "Ada didn't listen?" she asked, taking up yet another apple slice.
The Elf chuckled and shook his head. "Neither your Ada nor Elrohir were very good at listening to me when they were your size. They were very good at getting themselves hurt - and very good at needing to spend more time in the Healing Rooms - than almost anyone else I'd ever met, until Estel came to live with us."
He calls the King "Estel," like Ada and Elrohir and Queen Arwen do? Ivoreth blinked as a connection was finally made. He is Elessar's Ada too - and Queen Arwen's. He is my Grandfather. Another thought occurred to her. Oh!
He has a nice smile too - just like Ada's.
"What is it, little daughter?"
Ivoreth looked down and toyed with the remaining apple slices and bits of muffin still on the tray. "I'm supposed to give you a message." She snuck a look at the ageless face. How was she going to do this, after he'd told her not to move around much?
"Really!" The Elf looked interested. "A message from whom?"
"King Elessar and Queen Arwen," she answered simply.
When the Elf didn't say anything for a moment, she looked up to find those intense grey-blue eyes swimming with tears. The Elf took a very deep breath and brought himself under control again. "They sent a message for me with you, did they? What message was that?"
Ivoreth gestured for him to draw closer, and the Elf very slowly moved toward her. When he was finally close enough, she kissed one cheek, and then used her good hand to turn his face slightly so that she could kiss the other one. "They both send their love."
After another long moment, during which the Elf stared at her as if stunned, he suddenly shifted to sit on the bed and drew her close, mindful not to disturb the injured arm. "Thank you, little daughter," he whispered into the top of her head. "That is best message I have ever received; and I am very grateful to you for delivering it so faithfully."
Ivoreth smiled, thankful that her way of giving the message was apparently all right with this new Elf - this new Grandfather. And she allowed herself to relax a little into arms that were almost as comfortable as Ada's were.
Another Grandfather. I have two Grandfathers now! And they're both nice!
adar - father
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.