Stories > Series
>Previous story: "Father's
Love" > "Never Alone"
> Next chapter > Next story: "First Meetings"
1 > 2
“Estel? Estel, can you hear me? Look at
me, Estel,” Elrond’s voice was both worried and commanding, but the
thirteen-year-old in his arms did not respond. The young human’s
eyes were half-lidded and glazed as he leaned limply against his elven
“By the Valar what did they do to you, Estel?” Elladan murmured
in furious anguish as he pressed folded cloths against the freely
bleeding gash that sliced the youngster’s thigh raggedly. Estel
was losing a lot of blood.
“Was... accident,” Estel shook his head numbly, his
swollen lips uncooperative as he tried to pull himself out of the
stupor that he felt was drowning him.
Elrohir lightly touched the bruises on the boy’s
face and his bleeding lip. Obvious signs of a fight and not one
that his younger human brother had done very well in. “Are you
saying that someone punched you in the face, repeatedly, by accident?”
“Not... the fight... fell off the roof... th-they
pushed me, but they didn’t mean for me to fall on the fence-spikes... I
didn’t mean to...” Estel’s body trembled and he obviously was afraid he
was in trouble.
Elrond and his sons exchanged glances. Off the
roof? He assumed the boy
meant the roof of the old mill house next to where the twins had found
the young human, but... What in the name of Elbereth had Estel been
doing fighting on a roof? And with whom? Questions however,
were going to have to wait.
“Hush, hush, Estel. We’ll talk about it later.”
Elrond brushed the boy’s hair back from his face gently. “Right
now we just need you to be still while we get this under control.”
“I can’t believe whoever it was just left him there
to bleed to death!” Elladan pressed harder, finally stopping the
dangerous blood flow. “Who knows how long he was there
before we found him? If that spike hadn’t kept the wound
more-or-less closed until it was removed...”
Elrond closed his eyes momentarily. If it
hadn’t, they would have lost Estel; there were no two ways about
it. The boy couldn’t walk anywhere on that leg and the way the
broken fence spokes had pierced him when he fell, if he had tried to
move, he would have removed the only things keeping him from bleeding
to death in minutes. It had been hard getting him back to
Rivendell as it was and getting the wound under control again had been
Estel moaned and squirmed slightly against the pain,
calling out something unintelligible.
“He’s delirious,” Elrohir said softly, touching the
human’s brow. “And he’s got a fever. Father... he must have
been there a long time.”
Elrond winced both inwardly and outwardly at the
thought of Estel trapped and in that kind of pain all by himself.
He held the boy tighter.
Estel’s murmuring voice finally quieted and the elf
lord could catch what he was saying.
“No, Estel, you’re not alone,” Elrond guided the
boy’s head to his breast, gently wrapping his arms around the young
human’s chest and arms, holding him still as the twins removed the
splinters and cleaned the wounds to the boy’s legs. Estel
thrashed in pain and delirium, but Elrond held him firmly, not letting
him do himself any more harm and whispering words of comfort.
The young human’s chest rose and fell raggedly as he
started to sob. “Erui, erui!”
the boy whimpered in Elvish. “Ú-awartha
sí erui nin!” he pleaded. “Do not leave me here
“Hush, Estel, hush,” Elrond calmed the delirious
child. “You are not alone, you will never be alone...”
Elladan and Elrohir looked at one another, their
eyes locking for a moment. Those words bringing back powerful
memories that they had not thought of in centuries.
Elrohir dropped the soiled bandages in the waste as
Elladan finished wrapping the new, clean ones. Elrohir touched
the small, mithril clasp on the shoulder of his tunic before letting his
fingers lightly trail over the identical one that was pinned to the
front of Elladan’s cloak, which his brother had quickly laid aside on
the corner table when he started tending Estel.
Elladan looked up and saw his brother’s
movements. He knew what Elrohir was thinking. What he was
They had been roughly the equivalent of Estel’s
age. It seemed long ago, and yet very clear; the passing
centuries having erased none of the details from their minds.
“You are not
alone; you will never be alone...”
“A-Ada?” the young voice was trying hard not to
sound frightened. Trying and failing.
Gentle fingers reached out in the dark, brushing the
side of a dirty cheek. “Yes, Elrohir?” Elrond’s voice was
soft and quiet, attempting not to show any trace of pain for his sons’
“Ada, you’re fading,” the younger twin’s voice was a
mere whisper in the dark. It was true; the elf lord’s natural
glow was slowly waning until now it was only a faint shimmer hovering
around his skin.
Elrohir’s light, usually dimmer, showed radiantly
brighter than that of his father as his smaller hand clasped that of
the elder elf.
“I’m just a little tired,” Elrond soothed his
child’s concerns, his labored breath belying his words as he leaned in
a sitting position against the back wall.
The elf lord’s free hand tightened against the left
side of his ribs, pressing hard to steady the pain that was robbing him
of his breath. His fingers came away sticky with blood. It
was seeping through the bandage again. Elrond wiped his hand
quickly on the dark fabric of his tunic to hide the blood from his
The twins were not fooled. They were young,
but they were plenty old enough to understand that their father’s wound
For their sakes, Elrond put forth a little more
strength and his glow grew slightly brighter, casting more light around
the inky-black, half-collapsed chamber.
Elladan’s fingers were scanning the rough rock and
jumbled stones against the far wall, seeking some weak point, some give
that might get them out of here, but there was nothing. Kicking
the wall in frustration, the young elf started over again at the
Teetering uncertainly on the brink of adulthood, the
twins were by elven reckoning just entering into their teenage years,
although of course in human time they were far older than that.
Too young, Elrond thought as he watched them with
aching eyes. Too young for everything they had been
“Elladan, come, sit,” Elrond called to his
firstborn, seeing the desperation that was creeping into the young
Elladan shook his head; leaning his hands against
the walls and letting his head hang down, his long, brown hair falling
around his face before being pushed roughly back again behind his
ears. “There has to be a way...”
“Elladan, you’ve gone over the walls three times,”
Elrond’s voice was calm and steadying. “I’m afraid the enclosure
is quite secure. Come, sit, we should conserve the air.”
Elladan felt the ground trembling beneath his
fingers slightly and put one ear to the stone. “They’re coming,”
he whispered quietly. Fear that he did not want to admit haunted
his words. “They’re digging through from the other side...” He
backed slowly away from the wall, nearly stumbling in the
darkness. Half-falling, half-sitting he came down next to his
father and brother. Pulling his knees up to his chest and hugging
them close, the young elf rocked back and forth softly.
Elrond gently touched his son’s bare shoulder,
careful of the many cruel stripes that decorated the youngster’s
“They’ll take us again, they’ll take us again...”
Elladan murmured into his arms as he continued rocking.
Elrohir pulled closer to his father’s side,
burrowing under the elf lord’s arm, his eyes large in the darkness. He
rubbed the rope burn around his wrists with trembling fingers.
The memories were too fresh, too painful. He pressed his eyes
closed against them, but they were still there on the inside of his
The hard, ugly eyes, the rough clawed hands, pulling
his arms over his head and tying them around the low-slung tree
branch... Elladan was tied on the opposite side, facing him.
Their foreheads almost touched.
laughed. The fact that the young elves were identical twins
amused them greatly and they made bets on which of the two would scream
first. The whip fell, again and again, across both of the boy’s
backs at the same time. Stroke for stroke the beatings were
carefully, mockingly equal...//
Elrohir buried his palms deep into his eyes, shame
rushing through him at the memories. He had cried first. He
had tried not to, but the pain was too much.
He may have been first, but both boys were screaming
before the orcs were through.
It was their cries that brought their father to
Elladan clutched his father’s hand against his
shoulder. Today hadn’t started out this way. It had started
out such a good day. They were hunting, just hunting.
Elrond, Glorfindel, the twins and a few other elves
had gone hunting in the foothills near Rivendell as they often
did. When the party rested at mid-day, Elladan and Elrohir had
asked for and obtained permission to climb the next hill up to where
there was a lake to go for a swim.
They never made it to the lake. A party of
orcs had taken them by surprise and overcome them before they could
call out for help. It did not make matters any better when they
realized that they had not merely been taken because they were lone
elflings wandering about in the woods, they were taken because they
were the sons of Elrond.
Elrond gently ran his fingers through Elrohir’s
hair, feeling the young one’s inner turmoil.
The sounds of digging were slowly but steadily
getting louder, and closer.
“I won’t cry this time,” Elrohir whispered fiercely,
balling his fists. “I won’t!”
Elrond’s heart twisted inside him, hard. His
hands on his children tightened firmly. “They will not harm you
again, El,” his gaze moved from Elrohir to Elladan. They shared
the same nickname, so they knew he was including them both. “I
will not let them, do you hear me?” His voice was very stern and
fiercely protective. “I will not let them touch you again!
I promise. I promise...”
The elf lord knew he would keep that promise if he
had to die to do it. This was his fault. The boys had been
tortured because they were his children... they had only been bait and
he unwittingly walked right into the trap.
When several hours passed and the boys did not
return the older elves had gone looking for them. They did not
find them at the lake and worry consumed the searchers. There
were only five of them, and much area to cover, so they were forced to
split up to search.
Elrond had not been searching very long when he saw
something moving in the trees. He gave chase immediately, but
whatever it was got away. A little while later, the same thing
happened again, and this time he found the little silver clasps that
Elladan had been wearing in his hair that morning lying on the forest
floor. Knowing he was going the right way, the elf lord pressed
on, even though he was now too far away to get any
reinforcements. Without realizing it, he was slowly drawn farther
away from the others and towards where the twins had been taken.
And where the orcs wanted him.
//The lead orc, a
beast called Rizhnag, ran his long, clawed fingers teasingly down the
side of Elladan’s cheek, lightly breaking the skin. The young elf
snapped at him, almost biting the hand, his eyes flashing. Of
course that earned the young elf a sharp slap, knocking his head into
his brother’s. Both of them winced. Bleeding and reeling
from the cruel beating they had just received, the young elves felt ill
hm?” Rizhnag sneered. “Watch out, elf brat, or I’ll teach you
what pain really is. I think this one needs a little more
tickling, Burzog,” he commented to the orc with the whip, who moved
back behind Elladan.
“But share and
share alike I says,” the lead orc nodded at the other creature behind
Elrohir, indicating that if one of the boys were punished, they both
was heaving and his eyes were frightened. Elladan was no less
frightened, but felt somehow that he ought to be stronger for his
brother. Rubbing his forehead gently against his twin, he caught
his eyes. “Just look at me El, just look at me and don’t think
about them,” he whispered softly in Elvish, stifling a cry and biting
his lip as they started on them again. He spoke as much for
himself as for his twin.
“Just as well...”
Rizhnag grinned. “Have to keep ‘em squeaking until that blasted
elf lord shows up... slower now you maggots, slower...” he cautioned
his underlings doing the whipping. “More pain, less blood, can’t
have them going out on us too soon now can we?//
Elrond looked up in the gloom when soft sounds by
his side alerted him. Elladan was crying quietly and trying
desperately to hide it. Gently, the elf lord caught the back of
his son’s neck and pulled his head over and down, until the young elf’s
head rested against his father’s shoulder. Elrohir had already
laid his on the other side and Elrond placed one hand on each boy’s
head, holding his sons to him. Elrohir wasn’t crying, but he was
Too much, the boys had been through too much.
“I’m sorry,” Elrond whispered softly into their
hair. “I’m so sorry. I should never have let them get
you. I should have gotten there sooner...”
Truth to tell, he had arrived as soon as he
could. But this was still his fault. When he had defended
Rivendell and the elves that took refuge there against the hosts of
Sauron before the end of the last age, before the twins were born and
he and Celebrìan were even married, he did not fully realize the
personal enemies he had made then among the orcs that fought him.
Driven into the hills and scattered when Sauron’s
attempt for supremacy in the western lands was crushed, the renegade
orc warriors had been forgotten. Unfortunately, nearly as
long-lived as the elves they originally came from, the orcs had not
forgotten. And when they saw a chance for vengeance against the
one who had cost them victory over these lands again and again in the
past and driven them into the wandering existence they had now, they
Took it in a horrible way.
Elrond would never forget the heart-stopping sound
of his sons’ cries that had filtered through the trees as soon as he
got close enough to hear. Then when he saw them... when he came
into that clearing and saw them... time blurred and distorted from
there. He had been too angry and too horrified for conscious
thought, but half the orcs were dead before they knew what hit
them. He barely even remembered getting this wound that was
giving him so much trouble now, except that one of the orcs had tried
to run the twins through while they were bound and helpless, and he had
gotten in between.
How he got the boys free and fled with them into the
mountain caves was a blur. The cave-in that the orcs had brought
down to stop their flight and trap them, was a blur... and the elf lord
wasn’t sure if that was because of his emotions or because of the
sharp, burning pain in his side and the blood loss that was making him
A ribbon of fire lanced through his injury and
Elrond stiffened, grimacing tightly despite his efforts to not, his
hands tightening on his children’s foreheads as a small moan escaped
Elrohir slid down his father’s chest and checked the
wound. It was bleeding almost freely again through the
bandage. The young elf quickly pulled off his sash and doubled it
up, pressing it over the other makeshift bandages they had made.
Elladan saw what he was doing and moved to help his twin tie the injury
“Ada, it’s still bleeding,” Elrohir’s voice mirrored
both of the twins’ concern.
“It will stop soon, we have to be patient,” Elrond
lied for his sons, drawing them back to his shoulder with hands that he
refused to allow to tremble. The elf lord knew his body was not
healing. He knew that whatever weapon had injured him was
poisoned and that the blood would not clot properly, he could feel it
at work, but there was nothing more he could do for either the wound or
the poison in their current situation than he had already done, so he
would not frighten the boys with that which could not be changed.
The digging sounds on the other side of the wall
grew louder and the twins huddled closer to their father, not caring if
they were acting like children instead of the almost-adults they
thought themselves to be. They were afraid.
“Don’t leave us Ada,” Elladan whispered quietly, and
the elf lord realized with a start that the boys were not fooled by his
show of strength. He had already raised them too well in the
knowledge of the healing arts. “I-I... we can’t do this alone.”