21. Nine for Mortal Men
Note: For those unfamiliar with the Silmarillion:
1) Celebrimbor (or Tyelpinquar) was Feänor's grandson and founded Ost-in-Edhil. He would have therefore been lord also of Phellanthir. He made the Elven Rings and was betrayed and later killed by Sauron. Tolkien suggests that Celebrimbor and his smiths overthrew Galadriel and Celeborn as lords of Eregion.
2) The Tears - reference to The Battle of Unnumbered Tears where the forces of the Noldor were decimated by Morgoth, Fingon was slain and the forces of Gondolin were there- presumably Glorfindel. Maedhros would have had Feänorian armour of course, which I like to think of as lighter, better than any other since Feänor would have made it himself for his children.
3) curwë – technology, as in the skill of making technical things, and science. The Noldor excelled at this. Tolkien writes about this in his essays - I think he has an ambiguous attitude towards this exemplified in the Rings of Power. If Feänor made the Palantrii, why could he, or Celebrimbor, not have made Galadriel's Mirror?
Erestor's horse is called Nifradil (Snowdrop.)
Beta; Anarithilen. As always, thank you for the spit and polish!
Thanks to reviewers:Wherever Winter Fell, Raisinet, Pilvi, Alanic, Melusine, iiieyes, DT, Kimberly kim, Freddie, Melethen, and on efiction.esteliel.de lisse, fadestothewest, danty, Spiced Wine, Naledi, Alpha Ori,and on HASA Aiwendiel and Azalais, and on A03 ingrid, aeskis, bloodupontherose.
Chapter 19: Nine for Mortal Men
West of the Misty Mountains, a cold frost-laden wind drifted down across the Gladden Fields and wound through tall grasses that waved and showered the very last few seeds across the dry earth. A tremor shifted in the air, stroked an invisible hand over the surface of a lake and ruffled the golden leaves of Lorien.
Deep in the heart of the wood, lay a shadowed place, secret. Secret, for the silvan elves were suspicious even now, and preferred the idea of magic to curwë*. So deep green shadows and moss crept over the cool stones, and ferns shaded still pools of dark water.
Shaded by ferns and resting on smooth slate was a shallow bowl. It gleamed, shone softly. Obsidian glass made of a blasted star. The water within was absolutely still, dark. A mirror…
…Except when her long elegant finger sketched over the surface of the water, drawing ripples. Light shot through the dark water then. Like lightning in the night sky. And then the Mirror awoke and Time bent under her Will, parted its hazy veil.
Galadriel half closed her eyes and watched through her eyelashes, still, stroked her finger around the edge of the Mirror until the edge began to resonate and a low hum reverberated through the grove. She saw her own reflection but dimly at first and watched the light shoot through the water so it trembled, seemed to breathe with the reverberation and Nenya flashed again. The light caught upon the black glass which absorbed it utterly.
She watched the inky water, and with Nenya parted the shadows that drifted and took shapes...across time, across the spaces in between, unravelling the threads of Vairë's loom to peer ahead....
...Across the Mountains they come, clung about with shadow...a coiled serpent at his hip...lost in blood and guilt and lust. His sweet self beside him.
Something has been found; it reeks of Annatar, Mairon…
Nine rings for mortal men...
Two riders, black and white in a ruined tower...there is a Ring that awaits them. No, It does not want them. It feeds upon feâ that is lost....
This is Now, she knows.
A glorious rider leads a mass of shadowy warriors, spears glinting in the sun, a banner flaps and curls...is torn and bloody...a body hoisted up, shot with arrows...
Two riders, black and white, in the Tower, before it was ruined, when it was ruined, after...
This is Past, and it still hurts to think upon Celebrimbor who was betrayed even as his blood had betrayed others, as he had betrayed her.*
A ring of fire lost in the dark…
Shadow and Flame…
A white tree...
Nine rings...Shadows in a leafy land, a sleepy land of quiet sweetness…
Nine Walkers set against them...one from each race.
A Man with trumpets and snapping banners, proud, falls quiet, listens…
A Dwarf and an Elf walk side by side...Narvi? she thinks with a shocking pang of loss. And Tyelpo? No. A strange Elf in green and brown...They fight back to back. She knows that is important for some reason.
A haunted face, so young...he bears what she does, and more. It destroys him...
A hand reaches out.
That too is important.
There are other things too, that she sees....
Trees blazing, fire devours everything along the riverbank, Elves flee as they did long ago in Sirion...No, Menegroth. No… the trees are not carved stone. They burn.
A beloved face looking up, summoning Power, a ring upon his finger, an iron crown...a black horse falls upon a battlefield before a winged creature and is trampled. She no longer knows if she sees the future or the Past...her father or the children of her House...
She frowns and leans forwards, peers through the threads of time. She runs Nenya once more around the edge of the obsidian pool and the light pierces the dark, reflects briefly and she sees her own face…
....a Ring upon her finger...No. Two rings. A tower raised above her, many spires, a beautiful city, like Tirion. Tall spires. They are all there, her glorious brother, her magnificent cousins...they bow, hands on their chests. Ah. Not lost completely then...and she casts about for the King and sees it is no King but a Queen...
The water ripples and the images clear. She is panting, breathing hard and there are tears upon her cheek when she comes back to herself.
The grove is silent and the Moon has risen.
Galadriel rises, holding the edge of her chair as she does so, leaning on it as she straightens. As always, there is the smell of saltpeter in the air, and the scents of jasmine and rose are cloying. Her fingertips tingle as if charged, and Nenya is still. The bowl glows like the Feänorian lamps of her childhood, or the Palantri. And she feels the threads fall back into place around her like a cloak in this charged and secret place. Slowly she returns to herself and only the trembling in her hand shows where she has been, and she longs for the others who knew, who understood and shared the secret knowledge of the Noldor. She does not wish to know lore, like Elrond. She wants knowledge. Curwë. Longs for it.
She remembers Annatar. Giver of Gifts. Deceiver. Her lip lifts in the slightest of sneers, the Daughter of Fingolfin. I am for you, Sauron, she says and she knows, from the tinge of red in the Mirror, that he can hear her, for he alone now has such knowledge that is now lost, she thinks, even on the other side of the Sea.
What will she find if she picks her way through the bones and debris of Barad-dûr? As Queen.
Blossoms fall from the mellryn trees and she lets her hand touch them lightly, pass over the huge trees. There is the slightest tremor as she passes.
Amron had stirred and sat up at Glorfindel's gentle awakening but even as Glorfindel turned to leave, he saw that Gimli too, uncharacteristically, was awake and sitting upright, an air of watchful alertness about him.
'Something comes!' Even sitting down, head to one side listening, Gimli seemed for a moment to be more, to be almost rooted in the earth. 'I feel the movement in the earth, the stones echo,' said the Dwarf and Glorfindel was disinclined to ignore any son of Aulë.
'Is it Orcs?' Amron asked, rising to his feet, his bow already strung and he scooped up his quiver.
Gimli shook his head. 'I do not think so...sounds more like horses? A herd of horses perhaps? But they sound heavier. Riders maybe?'
Amron looked up. 'I hear them now. Horses indeed and being ridden at great speed. I hear the jingle of bits and stirrups. No discrete scouting this!'
Glorfindel climbed swiftly to the ridge above camp, closely followed by his two companions. He gestured irritably to them to hide, to keep hidden and peered between the shady bushes and saplings.
After a while he too heard them and then he could see the shapes of horses moving swiftly between the trees, dapple and bay and chestnut. A glint of armour and steel. They moved recklessly fast, loudly and with no sense of secrecy. And then he heard a loud, indiscrete laugh and shouting. Oaths and curses. In Sindarin. One voice loudly cursing its horse. Glorfindel sheathed his sword and would have rolled his eyes but he would not give the newcomer the satisfaction. He straightened and stepped out of the scrub to greet them.
'My lord Erestor!' Amron said in complete surprise.
Glorfindel stepped from between the trees, knowing the starlight would catch on him, and did not seek to dim his feä from the approaching Elves. He was aware of Gimli standing close, his war axe gleaming.
'Ah! There you all are!' It was indeed Erestor trotting between the trees on his horse, which was much like Erestor himself; a very tall, sleek, black horse that wore a look of complete contempt on its long face. Erestor bred his own horses, it was said, for their bad temper and extravagant gait. But behind Erestor's horse, amongst about six or seven Elves all mounted, was Asfaloth with his keen eyes and graceful shake of his long mane. Glorfindel could not help but feel a surge of gratitude that Erestor had at least thought to bring him.
'Greetings, my lord Glorfindel.' Erestor was impossibly smug as he reined in, looking down. His tall black horse snapped at Glorfindel irritably and as Erestor made no attempt to reprimand or stop him, Glorfindel fixed the horse with a piercing stare. The horse shook its mane but did not try again, but Gimli stepped back quickly out of range of its teeth.
'What news?' Glorfindel asked, reaching out to Asfaloth and stroking his nose with a smile. One of the best horses he had ever had, he thought. Asfaloth bumped Glorfindel affectionately and bent his head for the customary knuckle-rub on his poll. Glorfindel nodded and smiled at the warriors with Erestor. Two of the warriors were of his own company, Annael who had been born in Imladris some years after the Last Alliance, and Saeldir, who had arrived before the fall of the Dragon from Lorien. Erestor had once told him Saeldir was a spy for Galadriel but Glorfindel thought it unworthy and unlikely. He nodded to the other men who rode with them. He knew them all of course but less well.
'I thought you had gone to the High Pass?' he turned back to Erestor.
Erestor lifted a supercilious eyebrow. 'We dispersed the Orcs gathering on the High Pass and we...' his hesitation was momentary, '…received information there that more Orcs were on the way from the South. Elrond decided you might need my help. So here I am. And it rather looks as if you do.' He looked around. 'There was a largish band of Orcs on your trail. But I suppose you knew that.' He nodded at his men who began to dismount. 'They are no longer a threat.' Though his tone was light, there was an intensity in his amber eyes. 'Now. What have you done with everyone?'
'Elrohir and Elladan have taken the messages south,' said Glorfindel, standing close and keeping his voice low. 'We await Aragorn and Legolas...We lost Rhawion.'
Erestor looked at him for a long moment and said nothing. He slid down from his horse then, pulled the reins over its head and clasped Glorfindel's shoulder briefly. He did not linger though and unbuckled the girth and without bothering with the stirrups, slid the saddle from the black horse's high back. Its coat was lathered and sweaty and the horse shook himself and snorted, then rubbed its head disrespectfully against Erestor, hard until he removed the bridle .
Erestor dropped the saddle onto the ground, leaving the bridle curled like some sleepy reptile, calling to his men, gesticulating. 'Make camp,' he called to his men. 'Post a guard there,' he pointed to the ridge, 'there and there,' He pointed to the opposite bank and the head of the shallow camp.
Glorfindel was not surprised at Erestor's easy, efficient command but it looked as though his men were still reeling from the shock of Lord Erestor commanding them, and even more from seeing him in action. For he did not patrol, and rarely hunted. They would know him as an advisor perhaps, a counselor… but a warrior? He wondered if they knew with whom Erestor had ridden, had fought, and was tempted for a moment to tell them. But they had seen Erestor now in battle, such as it was, although neither he nor Erestor would see a skirmish against a bunch of disorganized rabble of Orcs as anything serious, it was as much as most of these youngsters had seen, Glorfindel thought and was glad for it. He noticed something was bumping against Erestor's side and craned his neck for a better look.
Erestor caught him looking. 'A toy for Elrohir.' he said grinning and holding it up. It was the head of a particularly ugly Orc. One eye hung from a socket by some grisly stringy stuff and its tongue was black and lolled from its open mouth. He caught Erestor grinning at him. 'We saw that Elrohir had been out playing earlier.'
Glorfindel could not think what he meant for a moment until he remembered the Orc that Legolas had finally put out if its misery. 'There's a story there,' he said grimly. 'But not now. Put that abomination somewhere else for Elbereth's sake.'
Erestor lobbed the head into some long grass where it rolled and the back of its head was towards them. A dark patch of wet gleamed on its long straggly hair and Glorfindel frowned and looked away. 'You are as bad as he,' he murmured.
Erestor shrugged and took three long strides to the river and looked up and down. Then he turned back. 'As good a place as any I suppose.' He cast Glorfindel an appraising look as he shrugged his cloak from his shoulders. 'A story you say? And where is the Heir of Isildur? Surely you have not mislaid him? And the son of Thranduil?' He flashed a grin which Glorfindel found intensely irritating.
'Legolas was injured, in Phellanthir,' he said shortly. 'Poisoned. Lhach-rhaw.'
Erestor's face changed. And then abruptly he plopped down onto the grass and began pulling off his boots. 'Ah! At last.' He shook his boot upside down and a tiny stone fell out. He looked up at Glorfindel. 'And?'
'And Orcs were on our trail, as you said. I sent Aragorn on with him.' He turned his head as Gimli approached. 'They are not here.'
'So I can see.' Erestor pulled his boot back on and rested his hands on his knees. Glorfindel caught a glimpse of armour beneath his tunic and was not surprised. Most wore only leather armour for hunting Orcs or pursuit, for the metal armour was too heavy for the light elven horses. But Erestor's horse was eighteen hands if an inch; long, loose limbed, smooth gait, elegant, bad tempered. Unpredictable. And the armour he had last seen hanging in Erestor's rooms. Once he had lifted the pauldron and it had been light as fish scales and as flexible, warm and strange in his hands. Feänor? he had thought in surprise. But no, he had looked for the maker's mark and found the eight-pointed star within it; Curufinwë then, he had realised, and had laughed at his own disappointment.
He suddenly felt a ripple of amusement and saw that Erestor was watching him with those strange amber eyes that were vulpine and sardonic and predatory.
'I am worried about both of them,' he admitted, coming back into the present. 'I was about to start searching for them when you arrived and glad I am to see you.'
'And I am not quite ready to go back,' Erestor admitted in his turn and unbuckled the very pauldron that Glorfindel remembered. He lay this carefully to one side and the cuirass followed, then carefully, the rest. But it seemed so thin and fine Glorfindel would not have believed it could be any protection at all had he not seen the state of Maedhros at the end of the Tears.*
'Good! I am pleased to see reinforcements,' Gimli interrupted his thoughts and came to stand beside them. He had unbraided his hair as he did every night, and it lay long and thick over his broad shoulders. His earth-brown eyes looked up at Erestor, flickered with interest over the armour and Glorfindel saw the Dwarf's fingers twitch as if to touch it. But he did not. Unswayed from his purpose, Gimli continued, 'We need two groups, Master Erestor. One to retrieve Rhawion's body - I assume you have told him what happened?' He gave a quick glance to Glorfindel. 'And one party to retrieve Aragorn and Legolas.' He stamped on the solid earth beneath his feet as if testing it. 'I cannot believe, my lord, that you are quite ready to give up and go home after such a successful hunt!' He cracked his knuckles and grinned cheerfully.
Glorfindel slanted a quick glance to see Erestor smile approvingly. 'Indeed Master Gimli, I feel we have only just started. I suggest we devise our plan over a meal.'
'My thoughts exactly,' Gimli clearly returned Erestor's approval, thought Glorfindel and was surprised at how sour he felt. It was unlike him and he shook it from him like a dog shakes water from its coat.
Amron had already begun to reheat a stew that they had had earlier and which would have served for the next day's supper. But the newcomers brought gifts of two more rabbits and it seemed that travelling with Erestor meant fresher bread that any warrior's rations Glorfindel was used to, and a ripe cheese. There was even wine that Erestor produced from a flask tied to his saddle.
'We will leave at daybreak,' Erestor said looking quizzically at the stew Amron had heated. He lifted a very very small amount onto the silver spoon that he produced from nowhere and tasted it gingerly as if he thought it would bite. Then he lifted his head and smacked his lips together. 'Excellent,' he declared and Amron, who seemed to not realise he had been holding his breath as if hoping for approval, smiled. 'Is this why you always take Amron on your patrols, Glorfindel?' he asked grinning.
Glorfindel smiled slightly, because in part it was true. 'But we do not have wine,' he replied, lifting the flask of wine that was surely far better than an Orc-hunt warranted.
Erestor inclined his head graciously. 'And now you do.'
After a while, they turned their attention to a plan, which was simple enough though not entirely to Gimli's liking. Gimli was to lead a number of warriors back to where poor Rhawion's body had been hidden, and to bring it home. Glorfindel insisted he lead the search for Aragorn and Legolas, and as he expected, Erestor insisted on going with him.
Erestor and Glorfindel sat long after the other men had gone to their beds, looking up at the stars and watching the fire. Glorfindel told Erestor all that had happened and when he had finished, Erestor was very quiet, thoughtful.
'Surely you do not think it true? That Rhawion is caught somehow in Phellanthir?' Glorfindel asked when the silence had drawn out too long for comfort. But a niggling thought had been growing in the back of his mind; he had seen for himself how Legolas was attuned to the Song, how he understood the world around him as others did not. It was something he had always been told of the Silvans, that their connection with Arda was somehow different, more intense...Perhaps he had seen something that Glorfindel himself had not?
Then he shook himself; silly thoughts borne of a long and arduous journey, that was all. The Nazgûl were not Morgoth. They did not have the skill or knowledge to sever the feä of an Elf. Not even Sauron had mastered that particular skill.
Erestor raised his head as if sensing Glorfindel's thoughts. His long legs were stretched before him and he was propped up on one elbow, his black hair was caught back in one long, thick braid and was pulled over his shoulder. 'I remember when the Nine were made,' he said quietly and Glorfindel stilled; he had not realised that Erestor was in Ost-in-Edhil at the same time as Annatar, or Sauron as he later revealed himself to be.
'Those Rings had a darkness in them that fed on something more than just their bearers.' Erestor seemed lost in thought then but Glorfindel stared at him, a cold chill creeping down his spine.
'I was not close to the Making itself,' Erestor continued but he was not oblivious to Glorfindel's growing horror. 'I am not a Maker myself of course. Merely an observer, a scholar of curwë.' He raised his eyes briefly to Glorfindel.
Never a mere scholar, thought Glorfindel wryly.
Erestor smiled slightly. No. He looked back into the fire. The flames burned orange and sent a small shower of sparks into the night.
'I remember Tyelpo's excitement that they were finished...He could hardly contain himself, and Annatar beside him, smiling so indulgently.' Erestor examined his fingernails nonchalantly, but the slightest crack in his voice betrayed him. 'Smug bastard stood there and told us all how the Rings would enrich us. If only your grandfather, Tyelpo, had bent his mind to a greater purpose such as this....Preserving and elevating instead of mere beauty,' he mimicked a deep, warm voice.
Glorfindel sat silently, wondering how it was that no one guessed Annatar's real identity, not even Galadriel.
'I wish I had killed him then,' Erestor said bitterly. 'Or unmasked him at least...except I only had suspicions then and Tyelpo would have thrown me from the city to the wolves had I told him. You have no idea, Glorfindel, how compelling he was, how persuasive.' Erestor stared into the fire, but he was seeing something else, long ago, a strange expression on his face. 'He had come to Tyelpo saying he had been sent by the Valar to give him knowledge, curwë.' He glanced at Glorfindel then as if he were about to say more but stopped himself.
There was a sound in the undergrowth and both looked around, listened for a moment to the small mammal that scurried past the quiet camp on its own quest. In the silence, Gimli snored gently and a horse sighed.
Glorfindel turned back to Erestor. 'You said the Nine Rings fed on something?' he prompted quietly, knowing he had to continue but wishing he did not.
Erestor gathered himself and said, 'Long after Sauron was revealed and had razed Ost-in-Edhil, the Nazgûl were uncloaked. Nothing remained of the powerful kings they once were; the Rings had devoured their bearers. Oh, I do not mean their flesh and bone. That was devoured by Time as mortals are. No. They are called Nazgûl for a reason. The Rings fed on their feä and now they are merely vessels of Sauron's malice and power. But only now do I begin to realise that the Rings are still hungry.' The fire reflected in his amber eyes, and suddenly Glorfindel understood why there were all the stories in Imladris about Erestor. The amber eyes turned to him for a moment and Erestor said, 'Think you that the morgul blade Aragorn took from Weathertop is the only one? What do we know of these weapons of Morgoth?'
A chill struck Glorfindel. 'That was Angmar's, he struck Frodo because he would not yield the Ring,' he said slowly. 'Elrond said Frodo would have become a wraith. I thought it a relic from the old days.' He took a quick breath as realization dawned.'You think it was not the only one.'
'Elrond and Mithrandir are disturbed by the discovery of that blade,' Erestor said. 'And what you tell me disturbs me even more.'
'Ah, Elbereth! Rhawion...' Glorfindel said, closing his eyes.
When he opened them, Erestor was watching him but not in amusement. 'It is not the Valar who will help us,' he said bitterly. 'They care nothing for us. We will have to do this on our own as usual.'
Glorfindel said nothing. He did not agree but he did not speak his prayer aloud for he knew Erestor would scoff.
It was barely light before Gimli was rousing them, uncharacteristically, thought Glorfindel, for usually the Dwarf slept deeply until the very last moment and only then rolled from his bed and announced himself to the world. Glorfindel had not slept well after he and Erestor's conversation and his waking dreams had veered off into the Past, and he dreamed of Angmar, the Witch-King and Fornost. It had been a restless night. Now he stretched and looked up at the sky. Arien had already risen and brought her chariot over the Misty Mountains. It looked a fine day; snow glittered on the boughs of trees and frosted over the hard earth and he shook the cobwebs of sleep from his bones.
Erestor was returning from the river, swinging his arms and humming a song Glorfindel did not recognize. Erestor slowed beside his tall, grumpy horse, which laid its ears back at him, and regardless he slung the saddle over his withers. The horse snapped its teeth at Erestor and he laughed indulgently.
They made quick work of breakfast and were soon saddled and mounted.
They bid farewell to the Dwarf's party soon after leaving Luin-Aglar, Gimli perched comfortably enough it seemed, behind Amron and Glorfindel was left with only Erestor, Annael and Saeldir.
Before they parted, Gimli caught Glorfindel's sleeve and said quietly, 'I trust you, my lord Glorfindel, to bring them both back quickly and safely. My heart is unquiet until I see them both gathered in.'
Glorfindel nodded and looked into Gimli's earnest brown eyes. 'I will see it done. And bring Rhawion home to us,' he said but he knew that Gimli had seen the disquiet in his eyes.
'Do not let Legolas drag you off into some misadventure!' Gimli said urgently, his grip tightening on Glorfindel's sleeve. 'Bring him home. He is not in his right mind.'
'You have my word, Gimli Gloinsson, that Legolas will not be going off on any further adventure,' he promised. And he was quite determined that he was going to keep that particular promise.
It had been an hour since Aragorn had given Legolas the Crystôl and it needed to have time to work. In that time, he had tried to make the Elf as comfortable as possible, and now that Legolas seemed to be sleeping, actually sleeping, Aragorn chose to go outside. Half an hour at most, he warned himself. He was anxious. Two days had passed since they left Glorfindel. They should easily have reached Luin-Aglar by now and he knew Glorfindel would be wondering where they had got to. So Aragorn had walked down to the river and left signs, his own rune scratched into the bark of trees, stones cunningly laid so that a trained eye would see, and know that they were there. He had caught two unwary conies as well and skinned and washed them carefully in a small cold stream. The prospect of meat instead of lembas was a cheering thought.
When he returned he found Legolas restless and sweating. The Elf's eyes flickered back and forth as if watching something and his breathing was shallow and fast. Aragorn dropped the rabbits for the moment and scooped cold water from the spring into a pot. Then he knelt beside Legolas and pushed the rolled up cloak more comfortably under the Elf's head. He soaked thin linen cloths in the cool water and then squeezing them out, he gently wiped the sweat from the Elf's skin and then lay damp cloths over Legolas' forehead, on the back of his neck, over his chest and arms He looked into Legolas' pupils which were more dilated and again, catalogued the symptoms. Another crisis was close perhaps and maybe this would be the last, he hoped. He did not want yet another violent attack where Legolas knew not if he was a friend or enemy.
He dipped a second pot again into the spring and placed it on the fire, took the last of his athelas and crumbled it into the steaming water. He dipped the tin cup into the pot and filled it with the infusion. This he brought close to Legolas and cupped the Elf's head, slowly trickled it into his mouth. But moments later the athelas seemed to have had the opposite effect and Legolas' eyes were wide open, staring at nothing and his hands batted away imaginary enemies as if he were being attacked. His lips moved but Aragorn could not hear what he said. When Aragorn leaned forward again to take his pulse, Legolas' heart pounded so Aragorn thought it must burst. Tiny black threads popped up under his skin showing the track the poison was taking through the veins, they concentrated on his chest, near the heart and on the neck. His face was white.
Aragorn put his hand over his mouth for a moment as if to stifle a scream. Legolas' breaths were coming now in little short gasps and he did not know what more he might do.
Aragorn wiped perspiration from his own forehead and threw his cloak from his shoulders. He had made a mistake, he thought frantically. He should have let the Crystôl already in Legolas' veins take its course. He cursed Elrohir for making him even think that a second dose of the anti-venom might even be right... and Elladan for giving it to him so it was there in his satchel. Elrond was right. The Crystôl was killing him, his temperature so high that surely his body would overheat and start shutting down and the venom seemed to be winning, it black tendrils seemed to writhe beneath the Elf's skin.
Legolas started shaking again, uncontrollably so that when Aragorn tried to pour infusions of athelas into his mouth, it just dribbled from the corner of his mouth and pooled in his collarbone. Even when Aragorn lifted the Elf's head up and tried, it made no difference because Legolas then thrashed his head from side to side. He could not keep him still. The cup clattered to the ground spilling the liquid. Aragorn gritted his teeth in frustration and snatched it up. He shuffled around and straddled Legolas, pinning his arms to the ground with his knees. With one hand, he held the tin cup against his closed lips and with the other, he cupped Legolas' head but the Elf closed his lips tightly against him. Aragorn cursed silently and worked the brim of the cup between his lips. Legolas spluttered and his eyes shot open. He flexed his arms and bucked but Aragorn was ready for him and pressed all his weight down upon Legolas' arms.
Legolas shouted furiously, 'You fucking Orc! Bastard! Whore of Morgoth!'
Aragorn blinked but did not let him up.
'Son of Morgoth and a Warg Bitch! Get off me you Goblin-fucking....' The words that followed were words that Aragorn had never heard before. Mirkwood dialect words he guessed; he was sure they were uncomplimentary. Spittle flew from Legolas' lips and his eyes were shot with fire. Aragorn bore down, pressing his knees into the inner part of Legolas' elbows so the Elf cried out.
'You asked me to help you,' Aragorn said as calmly as he could, looking down at Legolas,. 'In fact, you made me swear it. And that is what I am doing.' He steadied himself with one hand by the side of Legolas' head, so when the Elf braced himself, slid his feet up so his knees were bent and then suddenly pushed up and tried to throw Aragorn off, Aragorn was ready. Knowing the Elf was weakened by the poison, Aragorn flipped him onto his belly and pounced down onto his back, putting all his weight onto the Elf and bending his arm up painfully.
'Will you stop fighting me!' he shouted in Legolas' ear, pressing his face into the ground. 'I am trying to heal you, not hurt you, you stupid, ungrateful ...'
His own words were drowned out by the stream of expletives and curses from the MIrkwood Elf. And he answered with a stream of his own. When they had both exhausted every curse and swear word they knew, they remained, panting for breath. Legolas' cheek pressed down into the ground. Suddenly and with an immense effort, Legolas wrenched his arm from Aragorn's grasp and heaved upwards, throwing Aragorn from him. Aragorn rolled, hauling the Elf round so Legolas was on his back and Aragorn landed heavily on top of him. They glared at each other face to face, breathing hard. The tin cup of athelas tea lay with the precious liquid spilled over the dusty earth.
Aragorn leaned heavily over him, face to face, so he felt Legolas' breath on his own mouth. He looked deeply into his eyes, willing the Mirkwood Elf to understand him, to see him, to know him. And suddenly Legolas opened his eyes and Aragorn felt that strange dislocation and the world seemed to tilt. He thought he smelled rain on the dry summer earth, the snap of a banner in the wind, a trumpet's clarion call that stirred his blood and made him proud...and there was the sound of the wind shuddering through a banner wrought with silver thread, a silver crown and stars. Steady heartbeats, steady hoofbeats, and a white city where the bells rang out to greet the Lords of Gondor...a horn sounded, rang through the trees and the pound of feet, his heartbeat...
A whoosh of light and the wind caught them both, their hair a tangle of dark and pale. Aragorn fell forwards onto his elbows and gripped Legolas' head tightly so he could not move.
'You will listen to me,' he said with all the command and imperative he could summon. 'And you will do as I say.' He found himself fixed in Legolas' own gaze, saw deep green, flecked with gold like new leaves in a beech wood, or the still deep pools beneath the mosses and ferns of the forest. There was the distant sigh like the Sea....'You will let me in.'
Suddenly it seemed Legolas went limp in his arms and for a moment, was very still. Then Legolas gazed up at him with something like relief. 'You are here!' he whispered. 'You have come.'
Aragorn frowned slightly. 'Yes. I am here. I have sworn to help you. And I will.'
He had not noticed how dark it had become, nor realised that the fire had died and gone out. And it was suddenly very cold. The cave seemed very big and he could no longer see Roheryn or feel the horse's warm and comforting presence.
He shuddered like something had skittered over him. From the corner of his eye he thought he saw something moving, below him in the darkness at his feet.
When had he stood?
Legolas turned to him, and Aragorn saw how weak he was, the dark circles under his eyes and the pinched look of his face. One hand clasped his arm as if it was painful and he was hunched over slightly...Hadn't he been lying down a moment ago?
Aragorn was confused and then something brushed against his leg in the dark below him. Something dry and smooth. It slithered away and he shuddered, looking down. He could see nothing...but there was a sound, a dry sound. As if something reptilian was slipping over the cold stones. He wanted to lift his feet up but he could not see where he might go - the Dark pressed against his eyes, his face, his mouth...and he could only see Legolas' pale face turning towards him.
A dim, eerie light seemed to shine from the Elf himself but Legolas was gazing at him in wonder. 'How you shine! Full of the light of the stars you are.' Tentatively Legolas reached out and brushed his fingers lightly over Aragorn's face. Then he looked at his hand and smiled. His smile was enough to make Aragorn stare for it was full of naive wonder, and sweet as any child's. 'Aragorn, son of Arathorn, line of Kings. You vanquished the Witch-King. I heard Frodo say it.' He lifted his head to meet Aragorn's puzzled gaze. 'The Nazgûl is here. It has Rhawion. We can free him,' he said breathlessly.
Aragorn started to say that no, he had not vanquished the Witch-King, that Angmar had chosen then to leave Weathertop having done what he intended. But he stopped suddenly and stared around him. Darkness pressed upon him, he could only see Legolas; his skin was very pale, and his eyes were wide. Suddenly something blocked out the Elf's face from his view, something dark and he heard scuffling and then Legolas was before him again, his long hair tangled and his eyes wide with fear. He clung to Aragorn and looked about himself in the same panic that Aragorn felt.
'What was that?' Aragorn asked, knowing his own eyes were wide.
Legolas glanced at him fearfully. 'You do not know?' He shuddered. 'It is out there somewhere. It hunts me.'
'Not the Nazgûl?'
'No. Not that. I do not know...' Suddenly something seemed to shoot out and wrap itself around Legolas' waist. The Elf struggled and threw it off. But no sooner had he wrestled one from his body than another leapt up, and this time Aragorn saw it was like a thick black tendril writhing over Legolas' chest, squirming its way sinuously around him until it had wrapped about his chest, slid around his neck. Legolas cried out and dug his fingers beneath its coils and Aragorn saw the Elf swayed for a moment, and struggled. Then Aragorn came to his senses and seized the blunt end for it had no head, no mouth, no eyes. He found himself retching with horror and revulsion as he tore it from Legolas' body and threw it from them both.
'It is some serpent,' he whispered and a deep horror came over him so his hairs stood on end. Below him, the darkness seemed to move with the sound of dry scales slithering. He felt sick.
'More than one,' Legolas whispered and he slowly moved one foot back towards Aragorn. 'Have you a weapon?'
'I do not...' But Aragorn felt a weight at his side and found that in his hand he clasped the hilt of a sword which gleamed and shimmered with light. He raised it and looked at it with confusion. Runes poured with light. But there was no light in this cave, only darkness. Surely he had no sword in his hand before?
'I have a sword,' he told Legolas in surprise. 'You?'
The Elf frowned and shook his head. 'I had something...but it has gone.'
Aragorn raised the sword in front of him and there was a seething hiss from below and he felt the dark mass of coils retreat from him.
He looked again at the blade. It shimmered, like the knife Elladan had which glowed when Orcs were near. Aragorn swiped the sword carefully into the darkness at his feet and again, there was an angry hissing. The blade glowed and its light seemed to melt into the darkness without being diminished. There was the sound of sinuous, dry scales slithering quickly away and then suddenly a long black tendril snaked up over Legolas, quicker than the eye could see, it shot around his thigh, waist, chest and reached for his neck again. Another leapt for his arm and snaked along it towards his shoulder and Aragorn leapt forwards and together they shoved the muscular coils off him, the heavy mass falling softly into the dark below. Shuddering, Aragorn clutched at the Elf with his free hand and Legolas gripped it. They clung together for a moment as children.
'How did I get here?' Aragorn asked, looking down into the darkness.
'I have been here... for a long time,' Legolas said and he sounded lost and very weary. 'I lost my knives...' He waved a hand over the seething mass beneath them. 'Somewhere in there. They will go quiet and then attack again. I cannot hold out much longer. I cannot say I am not glad to have company, but I regret your being here.'
As if they knew his weakness, there was a sudden hissing and the undulating mass seemed to writhe more angrily. Aragorn thrust the shining sword into the dark and it retreated. He pulled Legolas behind him, shuddering. Suddenly blunt, blind heads nosed at them with vicious aggression, twisted about their legs and he hacked at the mass without precision. One thick black coil thrashed and writhed, its pink flesh showed through a cut Aragorn had made in its flesh and Aragorn struck again, this time slicing it in two. But the ends waved about blindly, horribly and then tumbled to the ground. A black tendril clung suddenly to his leg, nosed its way up his thigh and he slashed at it with his sword in panic, in horror. He heard Legolas panting and struggling behind him and turned to help. He almost gagged with revulsion for a thick black tendril was draped horribly over Legolas, and was twining itself around his thigh, waist, chest and now nosed its way towards his head. Another had pinned one arm and he swayed, trying to shove the coils away from his neck. Aragorn could see Legolas' eyes wild and panting above the coil and the serpent reaching with blunt, unseeing head towards his face.
Aragorn leapt forwards and struck with his shining sword, but the blade seemed to sink into the strangling serpent with no effect. He dug his fingers hard beneath its coils to shove it off but instead he felt it tightening. He heard Legolas' breath gasping, saw that the Elf's mouth was open trying to draw in lungfuls of air but another tendril of darkness suddenly thrust its way upwards and clapped itself over his mouth and then all Aragorn could see was the long green eyes wide in panic. Coils seethed and squirmed over him, engulfed him and although Aragorn hacked at them, still more writhed up from the dark. Under their sinuous weight, Legolas crashed to his knees and Aragorn slashed carelessly into the strangling mass. He lifted one coil after another and shoved it from the Elf. He struck again and again with his blade and it sang, like notes. The runes flickered and flowed over it, poured from the blade and plunged into the mass of darkness. Cleaver, it seemed to sing....Dream Cleaver...Aragorn plunged the sword into the undulating coils and pulled out and stabbed at another...
Suddenly he understood. Dream-Cleaver. The sword was called Crystôl...and it poured with light and magic. Runes swirled and melted on its shining blade and the blunt, black serpents cringed from him; the blade shimmered and flowed more like light than metal and it seemed to pour into the darkness, dissipating it. Where the blade struck, the terrible serpents withered and squirmed. Aragorn knew then what he had to do and struck again at the coils that were beginning to fall from Legolas and grabbed at his arm, shoving the Elf behind him, he wielded the blade now like light, understanding that he was directing the Crystôl against the spread of choking poison, that somehow his being here was as a result of the athelas. He hacked and sliced through the dark mass and light poured from the blade and shone around them. The serpents thrashed in the light, their outlines blurred now and darkness washing away like the blood of the conies he had washed in the cold mountain stream earlier....And they were gone, just the blurring of darkness gathered in one place; in the midst of the dark was a yellow-green gash. This was the wound from which the poison leaked serpents of darkness to strangle and suffocate Legolas. Aragorn strode towards the gash and plunged the sword it. The dark closed over it, and vanished. They were left standing together, blinking in the light...
Aragorn was still blinking when he looked down into the long green eyes of Legolas, wide open and gazing at him. He realised he was still on top of Legolas, pinning him down, face to face, close, almost touching his mouth, when he heard footsteps outside the cave.
Before midday, Saeldir had found Aragorn's signs by the river and dismounted to lead his horses carefully through the thin birch saplings, anxious not to miss or destroy any further signs. Glorfindel knew Saeldir was a good scout and left him to follow the signs that Aragorn had left.
'There is a Rangers' cave somewhere near here,' said Saeldir. 'Up there, beneath the ridge as I recall.'
As Saeldir was one of Glorfindel's best scouts, he motioned Saeldir to lead the way carefully. Saeldir held up his hand to silence them for a moment and he listened, then crept carefully to the mouth of the cave and listened again. Suddenly he relaxed and motioned them forwards.
'They are within my lords,' he said softly. 'There is no danger. Two men and a horse only.'
'Stay here and guard,' Erestor instructed Saeldir but Glorfindel was anxious to see them both safe and well so he stepped lightly past Erestor. He saw no signs of intruders and no tracks. Even so, both he and Erestor paused before sweeping aside the curtain of ivy that hid the cave mouth from view and ducked inside.
It took a moment for his eyes to adjust to the sudden dimness although the cave was not dark. There must be some shaft in the roof, Glorfindel thought to himself. A small fire crackled in the middle of the cave and he noted Roheryn standing at the back, head turned towards them inquiringly. But then he saw Aragorn, lying face down. Aragorn had turned his head to look as they entered the cave. And was frozen in shock for a moment.
At first Glorfindel thought Aragorn was injured but then he realised that the Man lay on top of something, someone. Legolas. Both were flushed and breathing hard. Immediately Aragorn rolled off Legolas and onto his knees. He did not look at them at first, straightening his tunic, belt, collar, His hair was mussed and his lips had the bruised and swollen look of passion and his face was very high coloured.
Glorfindel looked away in consternation and embarrassment. Erestor snorted but even he, Glorfindel could tell, was a little shocked, and surprised.
'You found us,' Aragorn said unnecessarily.
'Just as well it seems,' Erestor said drily and stood looking down at Legolas, who struggled upright but could manage no more than to half sit, propped up on one elbow. His long hair was untidily disheveled and the blanket had slipped down over his hips. He was half naked but Glorfindel was relieved to see he still wore his breeches. Then he saw that they were unlaced at the top. Confused, Glorfindel forced himself to look elsewhere. There were so many reasons why they could be unlaced, he told himself.
'I hardly dare ask what happened to delay you for two days,' Erestor said, a little coolly.
Aragorn turned to him. 'Legolas was sick.' His voice was tight, weary. 'We had to take shelter to give him time to rest. And Roheryn and I were tired. Unlike you I need to rest!'
Glorfindel looked back down at Legolas, noting Aragorn's unusual defensiveness, assessing Legolas' condition. Bruises showed on his arm and there was a cut on his lip, but these could have come from Glorfindel when they had suppressed Legolas, he thought guiltily and remembered how Legolas had wept and begged them not to drug him further. He moved to stand beside Legolas and looked down at him kindly. 'Are you well now?' he asked, quickly noting the dark circles under his eyes, and how his skin seemed so pale in spite of the strange painting over his shoulder and chest. Kindly, Glorfindel kept his eyes on the Elf's face and tried not to look as alarmed as he felt at the cuts and bruises that he thought were more recent.
Legolas blinked slowly as if awakening from a deep sleep. 'I was ill...But I feel better now,' he said, his cheeks were flushed and his green eyes flicked towards Aragorn as the Man moved about the cave, picking things up, pulling his own tunic straight, combing his fingers through his hair.
Erestor crouched beside Legolas then and pulled his face first to one side and then the other. He pressed his fingers to Legolas' throat checking his pulse and stared at Legolas' face for a moment. Then he gently pulled Legolas' arm up to inspect the bandage. 'Is this where you were wounded?' he asked.
Legolas looked up at Erestor, all big eyes and naive innocence, thought Glorfindel. Just what Erestor likes. And he surprised himself with the flare of protectiveness towards Legolas for there was something indefinably sweet and if not innocent, naive about him.
Glorfindel quickly stepped closer to where Erestor crouched over Legolas. He bent down to lightly touch the bandage on Legolas' arm and was pleased that Legolas did not wince as he had before. 'It is healing well?' He glanced at Legolas.
'Yes my lord.' Legolas raised his eyes to Glorfindel and the high colour in his cheeks deepened. He pulled the blanket self-consciously above his hips as if aware suddenly of his deshabille. 'Aragorn helped me. He gave me more Crystôl and then he...um.'
'I was healing him when you arrived,' Aragorn said emphatically. He dabbed a finger on his lip and looked at it. Glorfindel saw a spot of blood come away on his finger.
Erestor saw also and frowned and strode towards Aragorn, pulled away his hand and saw a scratch that bled. 'What happened to you?' He fixed Aragorn with a steely gaze and Glorfindel too noted the beginnings of a black eye and thin lacerations around the Man's wrists. Erestor touched them lightly, frowning.
Aragorn met his gaze more calmly now. 'I was healing him,' he repeated. 'It was difficult. He was still delusional. Nothing more.' The Man's grey eyes met Erestor's first, then Glorfindel's.
Glorfindel breathed in. Aragorn was betrothed to Arwen. There was nothing here. He put his hand trustingly on Aragorn's shoulder. 'Of course you were.'
Erestor swiped away dust on the Man's jerkin. 'Of course you were,' he repeated. 'We never said any different. It just looked as though you were fucking each other senseless.'
Glorfindel heard both Aragorn and Legolas gasp and he tutted. He could never understand Erestor's irrational desire to shock when smoothness was needed, to ruffle when calm was required and to be just so damned irritating.
'I did no such thing!' That was Aragorn. Incensed.
'Is that what it looked like?' asked Legolas faintly.
Glorfindel glared at Erestor. 'We never truly thought such a thing either,' he said soothingly and patted Aragorn on the arm. 'You know how Erestor likes to tease.'
He smiled soothingly at Legolas and turned his attention to Roheryn, for whom he had always had a soft spot. He needed a minute to collect himself anyway and fished out a lump of sugar from his pocket. It was stuck with bits of fluff but Roheryn gently took it with his thick rubbery lips and half closed his eyes as he crunched it up.
The cave was well provisioned and safe, Glorfindel thought approvingly. Erestor had already ducked outside the cave and Glorfindel could hear him telling Annael and Saeldir to search the surrounds and post a watch. Then Erestor returned with his own saddle and bridle.
'Nifradil will be better off out of doors,' he said of his own horse. Glorfindel noted the small space and agreed with some relief. It ended up that all of them camped outside after a while. Legolas agreed that he was much happier beneath the stars than under rock and the air was cleaner and did not smell. There was no question that the cave smelled like a stable and whilst Glorfindel did not dislike stables, he felt he would rather not sleep in one. Around the fire, Aragorn told briefly what had happened and from Legolas' face, there was much he did not know and, Glorfindel thought astutely a lot that Aragorn left out and that Legolas was happy that he did too for he was very quiet, almost shy. Glorfindel resolved to talk to Aragorn later when they were alone and decided they would both take the last watch together.
Finally Erestor leaned forward and threw an unnecessary amount of kindling on the fire so it leaped and flared, lit in his amber eyes. Then he said, 'So Legolas, you think Rhawion is still somehow trapped in Phellanthir?'
Glorfindel caught Aragorn's look of irritation. But Legolas looked up with sudden interest kindled in his dull eyes. He had been silent for the whole evening, unless he was directly addressed, and Glorfindel was sure it was not the shyness that had plagued him when they first set out from Imladris.
'I know I am still sick,' he said but his voice was steady. 'But I am certain still that Rhawion has somehow become trapped there. There was unholy light when we left, and the Tower came down but it was not a natural thing.'
Glorfindel rolled a small pebble between his finger and thumb thoughtfully. The lightning that had torn the sky open around them had been tinged with something else; a sickly greenish light had come up from the Tower and there were flashes of red and white amongst it. A dreadful wailing had come from the ruins and had made the hairs on his arms and neck rise. Thunder too had seemed to come from inside the tower and the earth shook. It was the Nazgûl's ring that had summoned that power, he thought. It was that which had ripped the stones apart and Rhawion had already been dead when they got out of there...perhaps he had died in the moment of the lightning strike. He felt another's eyes upon him and glanced up to see Erestor very still, very quiet.
'Tell me what you saw when you were sick,' Erestor said gently.
Almost dawn. The stars were at their brightest, thought Glorfindel tilting his head back and looking upwards. Had they ever seemed so bright in Tirion? He dimly remembered a blush of light seemed always to be across the skies and it was never truly dark. His father had railed against it by the end and Glorfindel found himself dwelling on those who were lost when he felt eyes upon him. He glanced up towards where Aragorn stood the last watch on the ridge above but the Man was looking south, away towards Gondor and Glorfindel guessed his thoughts lay with the quest ahead. They had already spoken of what had passed in the cave and Glorfindel thought there was much to discuss with Elrond on their return. He had Aragorn's promise that he would confide in Elrond everything, especially how he had used the Crystôl and athelas.
It was Legolas now who watched Glorfindel, and who dragged his eyes away as soon as Glorfindel turned to him. But Glorfindel was so used to the young being in awe of him and the old being less trusting.
He smiled gently. 'Are you feeling more like yourself?' he asked softly.
Legolas nodded. 'I am sorry for the burden I have become. Truly. I have never been such a burden on anyone. I hope not anyway. Although Galion would disagree and my brothers probably. But to my comrades I do not think I have ever given them cause to return for me from their mission.' He looked down and seemed to be pulling a thread from the sleeve of his tunic.
'If you keep doing that it will be threadbare by your return home,' Glorfindel smiled. 'Is it Galion you say keeps your father's house?'
'Yes. He does not do mending though, we have to do our own.' He said it like it was a well worn truth and Glorfindel wondered what kind of a place had its warriors and sons of self-styled kings do their own mending. 'There is no one else to do it for you?'
'No. We do for ourselves well enough in the Wood and my father says we should live as Illuvatar intended.'
Ah, well that was certainly Oropher speaking, Glorfindel thought but he said nothing.
Legolas looked down and licked his lips as if nervous and Glorfindel knew there was something he felt he needed to say. He waited quietly without prompting and without hurry. He leant back on his elbows and looked up at the stars, breathing deeply of the night air. Snow lay on the air, and the earth slumbered. He liked this time, liked the wild. The cold stream ran merrily nearby and he imagined the clear water running over the small grey pebbles and flat stones.
'In the Wood, we train from the time we can stand, to handle a bow.' Legolas' voice was quiet, hesitant. 'My best friend is...was... Anglach.' Glorfindel flicked his gaze up quickly to Legolas' face, recognizing in the low tone, a confidence and despair. 'He died when Gollum was released.'
Glorfindel nodded silently and leaned forwards to dunk a tin cup into the athelas tea that Aragorn had kept warming over the fire. It filled the air with its pleasant fragrance and Glorfindel handed a cup to Legolas and then took one for himself. He sipped it quietly as Legolas spoke of his young friend, how they had grown up together, their first expedition South and how frightened Legolas had been of the sheer number and violence of the Orcs. But Anglach had given him courage, made it a competition to see how many they could kill.
On the day of Gollum's escape, Legolas had found Anglach...Legolas spoke in that quiet trembling voice of the bereaved and at the end, he looked up. 'I promised him that I would tell you of him,' said Legolas earnestly, 'so that you would know there are those in the Wood who have also died standing against the Shadow. Like you. Though not against a Balrog of course,' he added hurriedly.
Glorfindel smiled. 'He was a fine warrior,' he said. 'And friend. I wish I had known him, I would have been proud to stand with him.'
Tears welled up in Legolas' eyes then and he pressed his hand against his chest as if his heart hurt, and looked away. His long pale hair swept over his face and Glorfindel felt a sudden tenderness and wanted to sweep his hair from his face and comfort him.
'Death is not the end,' he said quietly and Legolas raised his deep green eyes, blinking through tears he was unashamed to shed. 'It is not to be feared. It is the pain before death that we fear.' He smiled very very gently and said quietly, 'No. It is not to be feared...The grey curtain of this world rolls back, and all turns to silver glass...' His thoughts turned inwards then and far away. He smiled now for himself. 'And then you see it. White shores... and beyond, a far green country under a swift sunrise.'*
They sat quietly for a while and Glorfindel pretended not to notice how wet Legolas' face had become, nor the snuffles and surreptitious wiping his eyes and nose on his sleeve. Instead he merely handed Legolas a handkerchief, which the Mirkwood Elf looked at blankly at first.
'It is something Hobbits have given the world,' Glorfindel said seriously and after a moment of confusion, Legolas smiled, and even Glorfindel, whose heart was very firmly closed and locked in the past felt a little dazzled by the sweetness of that smile. 'I had them make me some when I saw their usefulness,' he added.
After Legolas had finally fallen asleep once again, Glorfindel sat back. He understood now Legolas' compulsion to save Rhawion. It was bound up with his sense of having failed in keeping Anglach safe and with not giving the other warrior who had been taken, the strange Mirkwood 'milui-criss'. It was not without precedent, he supposed; had not Maedhros begged for it when he was hanging from Thangorodrim?
'That was kindly done.' A low voice startled him from his musings. He looked up to see Erestor, still lying in his blanket and with his eyes half open as if in sleep.
They were quiet for a moment and then Erestor said, 'In the morning, I am going to Phellanthir. Care to join me?'
Glorfindel said, 'Yes.'
* Gandalf says this in the movie to Pippin on the dawn of the Battle of Pelennor. Thought it would make sense for Glorfindel to have seen the same since they were both reborn.
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.