They had stayed camped with Taradin and Garith’s men for two more days
before beginning the journey towards Rivendell. Taradin only
brought along a dozen or so of his men to help reinforce guarding the
prisoners as any more was a waste of effort. Garith and the rest
of the hunters traveled with them part way and then headed towards
Strayton with their catches. They had enough to supply the town
for the entire winter by the time they parted company. A few of
the more wounded men journeyed on to Rivendell at Strider's
suggestion. The lord of Imladris wouldn’t mind the extra patients
to care for.
Once in Rivendell, Taradin also had in mind to ask Elrond for the thief
they called Thil. He had taken a liking to the boy, who reminded
him a great deal of Garith when he was younger, and he knew of
Strider’s intentions to farm the robbers out to make them work off
their debt. Markess had commented to him not long before they
parted with the rest of their company that the lad would make a nice
addition to their party if he was willing to come under authority and
work with them.
The path back was taken very slowly as the travelers were collectively
in no shape to be hurrying anywhere. A journey that should have
taken five days ended up taking eight. And so it was on the
eighth day that the company of men and elves straggled into the
courtyard of Imladris near dusk.
Elrohir lowered Elladan down on to the flagstone steps. He had
been helping his twin walk down the steep winding path towards their
home. The older twin eased down with a small groan. He
nodded quietly as Elrohir crouched stiffly in front of him. The
twins had alternately been taking turns supporting one another and both
of them were exhausted.
Taradin cordoned off the prisoners in a corner of the courtyard, his
men eyeing them suspiciously. The robbers had become sullen and
quiet through the whole last leg of their journey, knowing that the
time for their judgment was nearing. Kaldur had returned to his
normal self after his talk with Strider, but even he was quiet and
apprehensive as they drew near the elven home.
Celboril came running out of his room, having seen the weary travelers
straggling through the gates. Moranuen was fast on his heels,
calling out to the household servants. In moments the courtyard
was teeming with elves seeing to the wounded and calling greetings to
The large wooden doors of the house were thrown open and Elrond walked
out onto the steps. Aragorn had knelt down next to Elrohir who
was now seated on the stairs as well and was trying to explain all that
was being said to his brother. Moranuen had already examined
Elladan and discovered the broken ribs and the deep cut to the elf’s
shoulder. Concern was written all over his face when he turned to
gaze at the elf lord.
Elrond’s smile faded, turning quickly to a scowl as he took in the
wounded elves and men that were gathered in his courtyard.
“What has happened?” He eyed the men in the far corner that were
tied up, quickly shifting his gaze to search out his sons.
Moranuen was helping Elladan to his feet. The elven twin was
moving slowly and with pain. By now the beating he had taken from
the rockslide and the trolls was showing itself in the black and blue
bruises that decorated his face and his arms. He smiled slightly
when he heard his father’s voice.
“Ada.” He whispered
breathlessly. It was still hard to
breathe, let alone draw a deep breath.
Elrond descended the steps quickly and wrapped his arm around Elladan’s
waist, easing his son’s weight onto his shoulders.
“Estel has returned from Bree. Apparently you were correct and
the wights were flesh and blood.” The elf pointed out the prisoners.
Kaldur couldn’t understand the language that the elves spoke but the
look the elf lord laid on he and his men boded ill for them.
“And what happened to Elladan? Where is Elrohir?”
“It is well, Father. I only have a broken rib. But I need to
with you about...” Elladan’s explanation was cut short as Moranuen
“Only? You look as though you have been a play toy for
trolls!” the other teased.
“We were,” Legolas answered. He mounted the bottom steps
and bowed customarily to the elf lord, his right hand touching his
heart before sweeping out in a gesture of peace and respect. “My
lord, we were beset by hill trolls on our return trip and our escape
was not an easy one.”
“Where is Elrohir?” Elrond’s worry mounted. Everyone was
talking at once, elves rushed about with blankets and bandages and the
chaos was overwhelming. He couldn’t hear what Legolas had just
said. As of yet no one had given him an answer that made any
sense, only bits and pieces of a story that seemed rather
“Silence!” the elf lord roared, bringing an immediate quiet to the
courtyard. The prisoners flinched visibly and Kaldur easily
placed himself in the forefront, blocking his men from the elf’s wrath
and backing them all up a pace.
“Now. Please, let one person tell me what has gone on and where
are Estel and Elrohir?”
“We are here, Father.” Estel still crouched in front of Elrohir,
holding the elf’s face with his good hand, his other restrained by the
sling. He was speaking slowly for the twin to understand.
Taradin moved aside, brushing his men out of the way as Elrond
descended the steps, followed more slowly by Elladan who was unwilling
to remain behind.
Aragorn glanced up as his father towered over them. Elrohir
followed his gaze and smiled into the face of his father.
“Ada.” The twin spoke softly,
“It is good to see you again.
Elladan is not all right no matter what he says. He has broken
ribs. He needs rest. And Estel is wounded as well.”
“That I have discovered. But how are you, my son? You look
no better than your brother.” The elf lord knelt next to Aragorn
as he spoke, eyeing the sling with suspicion.
Elrohir opened his mouth to answer but he was unsure what to say.
His father had switched to speaking common out of courtesy for the
humans and the twin had had a hard time following what he said.
Suddenly afraid of what their father would say and not sure how to tell
him, Elrohir locked eyes with Aragorn and begged him softly,
Pulling his brother against him, the ranger winced and fought back his
own tears that mirrored the twins.
“Estel, what is it?” Elrond reached out and placed a hand on both
of his son’s shoulders.
“Elrohir cannot hear, Father,” Aragorn answered softly.
The elven twin gently placed his hand on Estel’s heart, the vibrations
letting him know that his brother was speaking. “I’m sorry,” he
“It was not his fault, Lord Elrond.” Legolas stood behind
“It was an accident.” Elladan spoke up quickly. “It
happened in the Barrow-downs when we were tracking the robbers.”
“There was an explosion.” Aragorn cut into the story, his gaze
searching his father’s, “Elrohir was too close.”
“I cannot hear, Ada.”
The elven twin commented softly as he sat
back and stared at Elrond. Tears streamed down his face.
All the fears that had haunted him through the entire trip were
released now that they were home and he faced the horrible fact that he
might not ever get his hearing back. He was tired and he ached
and no longer had the will to fight back the fear.
“Yes, but Mithrandir said that he believed it to be temporary.”
Legolas spoke up quietly, his hands rested on Aragorn’s shoulders.
Elrond glanced at the elven prince, one eyebrow raised at this latest
information. “Gandalf was with you? Did you have need of
“Well when Aragorn and Legolas fell...” Elladan’s explanation was
quickly cut off when Estel cuffed him lightly.
“Ada doesn’t need to hear
about that right now, El. There’ll be
plenty of time for the details later.” He ground the last
sentence out like a warning.
“I’m sure there will be and I will want a full accounting of them all.”
Elrond stared hard at his human son. Legolas would not meet the
elf lord’s gaze at all. There was much that would need to be
“First, let us take the wounded inside. That means you as well,
Elrohir. We’ll tend to your human companions first.” Elrond
glanced over his shoulder at the wounded hunters. “Celboril,
Moranuen, would you be so kind as to help the staff prepare the guest
“Father.” Aragorn tugged on the elf lord’s sleeve as he made to
rise. “Can we please house Taradin and his men as well as the
prisoners in some of the guest rooms?”
It was an odd request, but there was something in his son's eyes that
made the older elf hesitate to refuse. He glanced back at the
humans and nodded slowly. “As you wish, Estel. Will there
a problem with that?” Elrond addressed his question to Taradin
and the men who were bound behind him.
“No, my lord. There’ll not be any trouble from them at all.
A few of my men will stand guard at the room. Mostly they are too
tired out to do much of anything, let alone put up a fight,” the
old hunter answered.
“Very well then. I will not tolerate any disturbances.”
Elrond gave the prisoners a stern glare as he stood to his feet pulling
Elrohir up with him. “Let us all move inside.”
Aragorn glanced back to Kaldur and nodded once, letting the highwayman
know they would be well taken care of. Legolas helped Estel
slowly to his feet. The small stifled moan was not lost on the
elven ears and Elrond called out to him over the renewed chaos.
“Estel, you can be qualified among the human. I would see you first, my
son.” His words were masked in the elvish language and Aragorn
missed the smile that pulled at the older elf’s lips as he
“Yes, Ada. Legolas and
I will be in my room. But I need to
see to the prisoners first.”
“As you wish, but make it fast.” Elrond turned on the threshold
and shot the human a warning look. He wasn’t kidding.
Legolas and Aragorn got the hunters and the prisoners settled down,
separating them into three groups. The wounded men were taken to
another part of the house, closer to the pantry where Elrond could
easily access his medicines.
“Kaldur, you follow Moranuen, he’ll show you to your room.”
Aragorn pulled the thief out of line and gently pushed him toward the
elf that stood waiting for him. It was still safer to keep the
bandit away from his men. When the robber glanced hesitantly at
Strider, the ranger walked him down the hallway. The bandit had
idea of what to expect and old fears rooted him in place until
Strider’s hand on his shoulder moved him forward.
“Moranuen will keep watch over your room tonight.” Quickly pulling out
his hunting knife Aragorn cut the man’s bonds. “Don’t try
anything all right? Just enjoy the comfort.” He wanted
Kaldur to realize that he had told the truth and that there would be no
bars or cells or cages. It was important to him and he knew it
was even more important to Legolas that the men were treated with
dignity even if they did not deserve it.
“Wait! I want to go with Kal!” A small struggle ensued as Thil
tried to follow them. He was stopped by Taradin. The man’s
large hands easily held the youth back.
“Don’t give them no grief, Thil!” Kaldur called back down the hallway.
He didn’t want any of his men hurt and the new arrangements made him
leery despite Strider’s assurances.
“Thil,” Legolas walked over, calming the boy. “You’ll be staying with
Taradin tonight.” He led the two men away down the hall in the
The room that Aragorn led Kaldur to was small. Unlike most of the
rooms in the large house of Rivendell it had no large open verandas on
it, only a small window set into the wall that looked out on the valley
below. The window opened to a straight drop down into the
gorge. It would be impossible to escape from this room. A
large bed dominated most of the living space and it was here that
Kaldur dropped down onto with a sigh after closely examining the entire
room for another way out. He crossed his booted feet and placed
his hands behind his head, stretching out on the soft mattress.
“Be good, Kaldur, and don’t give Moranuen any trouble. He’s an
expert marksman,” Aragorn warned, as he placed a stopper at the
base of the door to hold it open. No locks, no cages, but also no
way for Kaldur to avoid Moranuen’s watchful eye. The fear and
hopelessness in the man’s eyes a few days ago still haunted Aragorn and
he found himself more lenient with the thief than normal.
Turning to his elven friend he smiled warmly and spoke to him in
elvish, covering their conversation. “Don’t listen to a word he
says. Just show him your weapons if he gets out of hand and
whatever you do, don’t let on that you understand him or he will never
shut up.” Aragorn glanced back into the room. Kaldur lay on
the bed, his eyes closed. Whether he was asleep or not the ranger
had no idea but he smiled anyway. “And please be kind to him... as much
as is sanely possible at least. He helped save all of our
lives. We owe him that much.” Aragorn clapped his friend on
the shoulder, “Thank you, Mora.”
“I’m glad you made it back, Estel,” the elf called to his friend
as the ranger walked slowly back down the hallway.
Aragorn glanced in at the robbers who had been bedded down on extra
mattresses that had been brought in for them. Taradin’s men slept
in the doorway, forestalling any escape attempts. In the room
just next to them, Taradin was talking quietly to Thil as he stacked
wood in the fireplace. Aragorn left them alone, knowing the old
hunter was explaining his proposition to the young man.
As the men settled in and the wounded were seen to, the house began to
Legolas was waiting for Aragorn at the base of the stairs after seeing
to the wounded men from Taradin’s party. They quietly mounted the
staircase. Legolas’ room had been commandeered by some of the
household staff who had been displaced for the night, so the two
friends drug themselves into Aragorn’s room.
Legolas flopped back on the bed next to Estel. They hadn’t
bothered to turn the lights on or even remove their boots.
Aragorn had dropped wordlessly onto the mattress, relaxing into the
soft comforter that lay atop it. When Legolas dropped down next
to him he hadn’t spoken, simply readjusted his position, making room
for his friend and lying quietly next to the elf. In moments they
were both fast asleep.
Elrond had actually ended up seeing to the twins first as they appeared
to have sustained the worst injuries of both parties. They had
chosen to stay together in Elladan’s room and left Elrohir’s open for
others who might need it.
Elladan lay on the bed, his shirt removed and his chest wrapped tightly
in fresh white bandages, taking some of the pressure off his broken
ribs. His shoulder had been cleaned and dressed and Elrohir had
helped their father spread a soothing ointment over the worst of the
twin’s bruises. In moments he had fallen deeply asleep, his eyes
closed, attesting to his overly tired state.
Elrohir sat on the edge of the bed, gingerly removing his shirt.
His own chest was decorated by a collage of bruises. Elrond
gently held the young elf’s head in his hands. He felt the twin’s
temples and the area around his ears. Turning Elrohir’s face
gently from side to side, he held up a candle and looked into the
interior of first one ear and then the other.
Elrohir watched as his father started speaking. The elf lord
turned away to a small table next to the bed and began mixing a potion
of herbs and oils, talking all the while. The frustration in the
deaf elf mounted until finally he could take it no more. Reaching
out, Elrohir stopped his father, covering the older elf’s hands in one
of his own. With his other hand he turned Elrond’s face towards
him and gently touched the elf lord’s lips.
“Speak at me, slowly Ada, in the high tongue and I will
be able to
understand you better, please. I don’t know what you are saying.”
Elrohir spoke quietly, searching Elrond’s face with his gaze.
The elf lord sighed and closed his eyes. How foolish of him that
he hadn’t thought of that; it should have been a natural
assumption. Gently he pulled the young elf into his arms, holding
the twin's ear against his heart. “Forgive me, Elrohir.” His son nodded
against his chest, knowing what his father was saying without needing
to hear it. He smiled as Elrond pulled back and spoke directly to
“I think that Mithrandir was correct. Your hearing loss is
temporary only. Your eardrums were ruptured but they are already
looking better. I’m making a poultice; it should aid their
healing although you may have troubles for a while even after your
hearing returns. Did you understand what I said?”
The answering nod brought a smile to his face and he proceeded to
gently pack Elrohir’s ears, covering them with clean bandages.
The young elf laid back stiffly on the bed next to his brother while
their father rubbed the cooling ointment into his bruises. His
son’s soft noises of pain caused the elf lord to be extra careful.
“It must be some tale you will all have to tell me about this whole
trip.” He smiled down at the elf as he packed the ointment
“Ada, you will not believe all
we have done and seen,” Elrohir answered
quietly. With his ears packed and bandaged against his head he
could almost imagine that he heard his own voice from very far
away. With a smile he touched one of the bandages.
Elrond caught the hand in his own and placed it gently across the prone
elf’s chest. “Well I will hear of it all tomorrow. Tonight
you will rest,” he whispered, knowing the younger elf could not hear
his voice anyway. Running his fingers lightly over the bruised
face that smiled up at him, Elrond kissed Elrohir lightly on the
forehead before turning out their light and closing the door.
Elrohir glanced at his brother next to him with a small smile.
Rolling over and pulling the blanket with him, he rested on his side
next to Elladan, relying on his sense of touch to alert him should his
twin awaken. It felt good to be home. “Good night Elladan,”
he spoke out loud before falling soundly asleep.
Elrond stopped on the threshold of Aragorn’s room. The glow globe
he held gently illuminated the room and he smiled when he saw the two
friends asleep on the bed where they had fallen. As much as he
would have liked to allow them to them to remain asleep, they had
that needed attention and he had questions that desperately needed
When Elrond gently touched Legolas’ shoulder the elf started and shied
“No!” Legolas gasped slightly, blinking rapidly in the low light
as he focused on the person who stood over him.
“Legolas, it is I, Elrond.”
“What! What is it!?” Aragorn was quickly awake, bolting upright
in bed and glancing about them wildly, his hand protectively on
Elrond stepped back so that the light fully hit his face and stared
down at the two friends. “It is I, Estel.” Without further
explanation the elf lord pulled the large chair over and sat
down. “You two have some explaining to do.”
Legolas sat up slowly, one hand over his heart as he caught his
breath. He eased his legs up onto the bed and crossed them
underneath him. “Forgive me, Lord Elrond.”
“Oh I thought you were...” Aragorn stopped his train of thought
realizing he was speaking out loud.
“I know, so did I.” Legolas agreed quietly.
Elrond sat quietly watching the two younger beings. He steepled
his fingers and waited them out.
Legolas’ gaze redirected Aragorn’s attention and he stared guiltily at
his father. “Ada.
You startled us.” The human smiled
slightly, trying to lighten the moment.
“And why, my son, would my touch startle either of you, here in your
home?” Elrond raised an eyebrow and waited.
Legolas would not look at the elf lord and Aragorn suddenly found the
sheets beneath his hands interesting. In truth Elrond was
slightly amused at their reticence; they both acted like beings so much
younger than their years at times.
The softly spoken question laced into his name broke through Aragorn’s
hesitancy and he glanced up into the dark eyes that watched him
“We thought you were the wight.” He admitted softly. “I’m
afraid our dreams have been rather... haunted by that memory of
The confession startled the elf lord but he held his questions in
check. Standing from his seat he moved forward and held out his
hand towards Aragorn’s wounded arm. “Why don’t you start by
telling me what happened while I look after your wounds.”
With a nod Estel began to explain what they had discovered in
Bree. Legolas took over the story, allowing Aragorn to
concentrate on relaxing as Elrond manipulated the human’s broken arm,
gauging how deep the fracture was and how much it had healed in the
week’s time since it had been injured.
They quieted as Legolas spoke of entering the barrow after Estel and
his voice became nearly a whisper.
Elrond gently laid Aragorn’s arm back in the sling they had made for
him as the prince stopped talking. He had re-bandaged the arm so
that it was not allowed a full range of movements. Aragorn
scooted closer to the elf and encircled the prince’s shoulder with his
“It’s all right,” he reassured the elf. “You did well.” Aragorn
turned his attention back to his father. “Legolas saved me from the
wight. He put himself between me and the evil and helped stop its
assault on me.”
“It was not enough.” Legolas shivered slightly with remembered
“It bought us enough time until Gandalf could free us,” Aragorn
Elrond stepped forward and placed his hand gently on Legolas’
forehead. Closing his eyes he carefully touched the young elf’s
soul and listened, reading it nearly as easily as he could read Estel’s
broken arm. There were traces of icy cold fear that ran in
erratic patterns through Legolas’ consciousness, but the small pockets
that remained where darkness had touched him deeply were slowly giving
way to the light that permeated the elven soul. He was
healing. It would take time yet to be complete, but strangely
enough he was actually less troubled than before they left. The
deep shadow that had hung over him since his return from Mordor had
begun to dispel.
With a sigh, Legolas slumped back as Elrond moved away from him.
“You are well on your way to a full recovery, young one,” the elf lord
answered their unspoken question. He sat back down in the chair
and gazed at Legolas for a few moments.
“I can see that you bear bruises and scrapes but were you seriously
injured else wise, other than the touch of the wight?”
“No.” Legolas looked up into the elf lord’s eyes. “Nothing
that sleep and rest won’t heal.” He smiled slightly.
“Very well, I have liniment for your bruises, that should ease the
pain. But pray tell perhaps you can both explain what it was that
you came up against after the
wight.” Elrond smiled as the two
friends exchanged a glance. Aragorn started to laugh softly first
which contagiously wrapped the elf prince and he began to smile as
“Would you believe hill trolls father?” Estel asked quietly.
“Knowing the two of you, it would not surprise me one bit.” The
elf lord retrieved a small jar and pushed the young human down upon the
bed, helping him to unbutton his shirt. “You take your own shirt
off, I’ll be with you in a minute.” Elrond spoke lightly to
Legolas who was laughing as Aragorn’s fingers got caught in the button
holes as he tried to help.
“Start talking.” Elrond admonished the younger beings as he began to
rub the ointment across Aragorn’s chest, lathing the bruises in the
Legolas slid his tunic over his shoulders slowly, his arms and back
protesting the motions. He started telling the elf lord all that
had transpired after they awoke in the downs amidst the rubble of the
Elrond listened intently as he finished working over Aragorn’s bruised
back. The ranger had fallen back asleep listening to Legolas soft
explanations. With the ointment easing the tightness and burning
in his chest it had been easy to find rest. Carefully the elf
lord covered his youngest son with the light bed sheet, pulling the
comforter up to the human’s waist. He moved around the bed and
stood next to Legolas’ side. The younger elf gazed up into the
blue eyes of the elf lord quietly as he lay down on the bed.
“Are you certain there will be no lingering effects?” He asked the same
question he had asked years ago after returning from the enslavement of
the wraith. After what the wight had said to him in the barrow,
he just had to be sure.
“Yes, young one. You are whole. Your spirit will always
remember what happened and you will always be marked by it, but it
doesn’t in any way control you. You have resisted it utterly, and
that has made you stronger.” Elrond spread the soothing ointment
across Legolas chest. The elf tightened slightly and sucked his
breath in as the gel cooled across his bruised and aching abdomen.
“What of Aragorn?” Legolas glanced at the sleeping ranger.
Elrond stopped and watched his son sleeping, a small smile brushing his
lips. “He is free as well, thanks in no small part to you
Legolas Thranduilion. I know what you risked in protecting him
and not for the first time you have my undying gratitude.” The
elf lord’s smile widened as mirth tugged at Legolas’ lips.
Closing his eyes the prince slowly relaxed. “I thank
Ilúvatar constantly that he led you two to become friends.”
“It has always amazed me as well, Lord Elrond. If it were not for
Estel, I would still be living in the shadows of Mirkwood and our
peoples would not be as reunited as they are.” Legolas’ eyelids
felt heavy and he knew it was only because of the weariness tugging at
“Aragorn was aptly named.” Elrond spoke softly, noticing the difficulty
Legolas was having remaining awake, “Turn over for me, young one,
you slip away. I would see to your back as well.”
Legolas groaned as he forced himself over onto his stomach, his face
turned towards Elrond, “Yes my lord, Hope was a good name for
him,” the prince answered quietly before he fell deeply asleep.
The first rays of morning were barely touching the far side of the
valley rift when Elrond finished tending Legolas. The elf Lord
quietly closed the heavy drapes that bracketed the picture window,
sending the room into a deep, midnight darkness.
“Sleep well, my sons.” Elrond gently closed the door and walked
back down the hallway to his own room, checking on Elrohir and Elladan
before reaching his bed. He closed the twins’ curtains as well,
giving them a few more hours of sleep.
When he entered his own room the elf lord was slightly surprised to
find Celboril curled up on his bed. Apparently the elf had given
up his quarters for the night and had accidentally fallen asleep in the
only place he could find empty. Undoubtedly he had only meant to
lie down for a moment, but the elf lord was not about to wake his
Elrond laughed lightly as he left the room, not at all unhappy about
being unintentionally displaced. Sometimes one had to be flexible
when emergencies arose and last night had been just one of those
times. Stealing back into the twins’ rooms, Elrond eased himself
down on the couch that bracketed the far wall and pulled the blanket
draped over the back around his shoulders. It had been a wearying
night, he had a feeling that no one would stir too early this
morning. With those thoughts on his mind he fell deeply asleep.