Stories > First
“Shh, shhh....” Elrond smoothed their silky hair
slowly. “You will never be alone, El, either of you. Even
if you have no one else around, you will never be alone, because my
love will always be with you. Your mother’s love will always be
with you. And your brother’s love, will always be with you.”
Elrond placed the two boy’s hands in one another and closed them over
with his own.
The elf lord’s eyes glazed slightly as memories of
the far distant past clouded his thoughts and he heard his mother’s
voice speaking to him, saying those very words as she caressed his face
and calmed his fears even as he now tried to do for his boys.
They were some of the last words his mother had ever been able to speak
“Ada? Ada!” Elrohir’s voice brought Elrond
back from the past and the semi-daze he was falling into.
Elrond steeled his resolve, battling back his own
weakness. He would not desert his sons, he would stay and he
would fight for them whatever the cost, no matter how hopeless.
But he had to stay conscious, he had to keep his mind engaged, and it
wouldn’t hurt to take the boys’ thoughts off the impending doom that
was tunneling steadily towards them.
“Did I ever tell you about how your grandmother
saved a great treasure and became a bird for a while to do it?” he
asked, knowing that would get the youngsters' interest.
“A bird?” Elladan blinked and made a face.
“Grandmother Galadriel?” He couldn’t quite picture it.
Elrond chuckled slightly. “No, not her.
I mean my mother, Elwing.”
“Oh,” Elrohir nodded, understanding now. “We
never met her.”
“No, no you never did,” Elrond said quietly, his
mind on days long distant.
“But we watch Grandfather sail home to her every
night across the sky, don’t we?” Elrohir added quickly, hoping he
hadn’t made his father sad.
Elrond smiled at the boy’s kind heart. “Yes,
we can still see the light of Eärendil, and someday you will meet
them both in person. But he was not yet a star in the heavens at
the time of which I speak. He was far, far away, sailing on the
ocean, for your grandfather loved ships and sailing. I can still
remember the feel of the ocean breeze in my face from the days when he
would take us sailing with him. Once, Elros dared me to climb to
the top of the mast with one hand literally tied behind my back...”
Elrond chuckled. “I did, but I nearly broke my neck on the way
down. Mother was furious.”
“Elros was your twin brother, wasn’t he?” Elrohir
asked, although he knew the answer was yes. “He sounds like
Elladan shot his brother a withering glare.
“Oh very funny, and who was it that suggested walking across the stream
on that rope blindfolded last
Elrohir just snuggled further into his father’s
embrace. “I don’t remember,” he said innocently.
Elrond laughed. “Oh we were very like you two,
my sons, very. Now I can have great pity on my father and
mother...” He smiled when two sets of small elbows jabbed him gently
for that. But it was true; Elrond and his brother had even called
themselves El and El, even as his sons now did.
“But why was she a bird?” Elrohir returned them to
the original topic, his curiosity piqued.
“Why indeed? Now that is a tale...” Elrond’s
mind drifted far back in time. “You remember the tales of the
Silmarils of Fëanor don’t you? And how Beren and
Lúthien rescued one from the crown of Morgoth for
Lúthien’s father Thingol?”
The twins nodded. They had heard those stories
before, how long ago the elf lord Fëanor had crafted the radiant
gems and captured in them the light of the Two Trees of the early days
of Arda, before Morgoth destroyed the trees, leaving those three gems
the only place that the light could ever be seen again. Beautiful
as they were, tragedy had followed the priceless jewels because
Fëanor and his sons had refused to give them up to the Valar and
swore oaths then that bound them to a terrible fate. Many, many
elves died over the ownership of those stones.
“Possession of a Silmaril eventually cost King
Thingol his life, and thus it passed back to Lúthien.
There for the only time in its history did none chase after it,” Elrond
skimmed over the long history briefly, for much of it was already known
to his sons. “But after Lúthien left this world the
Silmaril passed to her son Dior, who was the father of Elwing my
mother... tragedy struck again when my mother was young and she alone
of her family survived. But the trouble wasn’t over yet and, as
so often happens, peace was not lasting. Father was away at sea
when the sons of Fëanor and those loyal to them came to try yet
again to take what they claimed as theirs. Elros and I were
almost exactly the same age that you two are now...”
He could still see the cliff, standing tall above
the crashing waves. Elwing stood alone on the edge with Maedhros
and his compatriot converging slowly on her. Elros lay
unconscious on the ground nearby and Maglor was restraining a viciously
struggling young Elrond.
the Silmaril in her hand and the light flashed radiantly between her
fingers as her dark hair whipped about her on the wind blowing up the
cliff. The pounding surf filled her ears as the two elves
advanced towards her.
Maglor were the last surviving sons of Fëanor, bound by their
rashly spoken and terrible oath to recover the Silmarils at any cost...
and that cost had already included many countless gallons of innocent
“Give it to me
Elwing,” Maedhros stretched out his right hand. In his left he
held his sword threateningly. “Give it to me and you’re all free
blazed. “You killed my father and my mother! You and your
kin left my brothers to die alone in the woods when they were just
BABIES! You murdered my family! *Nothing* will I give to you but my utter
contempt, Maedhros, son of Fëanor, for I call you cursed!
And if ever you lay hands on them, these jewels will be your undoing!”
only slightly. “I tried to find your brothers, Elwing, it was too
late. That was not my doing. But give me the Silmaril or I
will not be so concerned about what happens to your sons!”
torn. The Silmaril must be saved, it was what her mother, her
father and brothers had died for but... they had her children... for an
instant her eyes met first Maedhros’ and then Maglor’s.
“Are not the
hundreds of innocent lives already on your heads enough? You were
elves once, not monsters,” she whispered. “If you have any shred
of decency left in you, you will not harm my children! Or this
oath *I* swear by Manwë
and all the Valar, that I shall return even from beyond the grave if
necessary to avenge them, and never shall your spirit make its way to
the blessed lands, even in death!”
Then her eyes met
Elrond’s and in that moment Elrond somehow knew, whether by the
foresight that was already in him, or just from the look on her face,
that this was goodbye.
“Remember what I
told you, my son!” she called out, backing up to the very edge of the
cliff and clutching the Silmaril to her breast. “My love shall
always be with you, always!”
once, understanding that he was releasing her to do that which she
must. “Go mother...” he whispered. His gaze fell upon his
unconscious brother before rising back to meet Elwing’s and unspoken in
his eyes was the promise that he would watch over Elros... they would
watch over one another. For they were all that each other now
With one last
look, Elwing clutched the gem tightly and brilliant white light flashed
out between her fingers, nearly blinding the other elves on the cliff
edge, making them shield their eyes and fall back a pace. Then
she simply stepped backwards off the brink and let herself free-fall
towards the pounding waves below, fully intending to take the Silmaril
with her to her grave. But she never hit the water.
For Ulmo, the Lord
of the Sea, intervened and lifted her up, giving the elf woman the
shape of a great white bird with the Silmaril a flashing white light
against her breast. Elrond saw her rise into the air on
glistening wings, mirroring the meaning of her name ‘star spray’.
The young elf watched her fly away in search of his father... until
Elwing at last disappeared against the horizon.
elves on the cliff stared after her in shock, until she was gone and
whatever spell was upon them seemed to lift. Maedhros and his
servant swore loudly as they realized that both Elwing and the Silmaril
were gone from their grasp forever.
Elros stirred and
moaned, his eyes beginning to flutter open. “El...?” he murmured
his brother’s name blearily.
against Maglor’s hold on his arms, trying to get to his brother’s
side. Blood was clotting on the wound across Elros’ brow and the
young elf was worried. “Let me go!” he insisted.
over and slapped the young one sharply, snapping Elrond’s head first
one way and then the other in the viciousness of his rage and causing
the boy’s lower lip to bleed. “Shut up! You worthless
The older elf
wasn’t really angry with the twins, but he was enraged that they had
lost the prize that they sought, leaving their fateful oath unfulfilled
Elros struggled to
his feet, catching Maedhros’ arm before he could strike his brother
again and grappling with the bigger elf. “Stop it! Leave El
Elros off his arm, sending the boy sprawling again. The younger twin
fell and did not rise.
Elrond, allowing him to go to his brother’s side. With their
servants and compatriots all around, there was nowhere for the twins to
run if they tried.
“What do we do
with them?” Maedhros’ servant, Fandril, wanted to know, favoring the
two young half-elves with a disdainful look. “Kill them?”
“No!” Maglor shook
his head, seeking his brother’s eyes.
“No, not again,”
Maedhros shook his head wearily. “We take them back with
us. Lock them up.”//
“I can’t believe they were so wicked!” Elladan’s
voice interrupted the story. “That they killed all those people
for a jewel! I hope they both died.”
Elrond shook his head; that was over-simplifying
things slightly, but essentially his son was not far off in his
assessment. Although truth be told, of all Fëanor’s sons,
those two had probably been the least twisted. “They did,” he
said quietly. “What my mother said was true, for in the end the
Silmarils were their undoing. But although Maglor and Maedhros
did many wicked things with their brothers, I pity them in the end for
they were bound by an oath that should never have been pledged and it
destroyed their lives as surely as it destroyed many others.”
“And did they put you in prison?” Elrohir wanted to
know. Somehow it was comforting to hear that his father had gone
through something terrible and survived when he was their age... maybe
it meant they would make it out of this current situation as well.
“Yes, they did,” Elrond’s voice was quiet.
Those were hard, fearful days to recall. The dark, the
imprisonment, the uncertainty... “We were taken to Maedhros’
stronghold in the hills of Himring and put down in the deepest cellar
of his keep. We spent many, many months in a small dark hole, not
much bigger or brighter than this. We feared that they meant to
leave us down there for eternity. The only time we saw another
living soul was on the infrequent occasions when the servants would
bring us food, but the servants in charge of our care were neither kind
nor considerate and we did not look forward to their appearances: we
coming,” Elros’ voice echoed slightly in the empty little room, he was
holding Elrond’s head in his lap so the other did not have to lie on
the damp, stone floor.
“I know,” was his
brother’s weak reply. “It’s Fandril, I recognize his step.”
Of the two of them, Elrond’s hearing and sight reflected more of their
Elvish heritage then his brother. But he also needed daylight and
stars and the fresh, free air more than Elros seemed to. The
young being was sliding into despondency over their situation and his
health was beginning to fail him.
slightly and pulled his brother back against him, scooting them both
further back into the corner of their prison. Fandril was
routinely cruel to them.//
The two boys were
not allowed to eat alone, but had to be watched, and then the dishes
and utensils were taken away at once. Elrond never did figure out
what exactly their captors feared the two young elves could actually DO
with those items if left to themselves, but mealtimes were very
uncomfortable because the guards did not like to be kept waiting around
and if they felt the twins were taking too long sometimes a beating was
you for not eating fast enough??” Elladan couldn’t help interrupting
again, indignation coloring his words. He couldn’t imagine anyone
treating his father that way!
Elrohir touched the side of his Ada’s face
gently. “I’m so sorry.”
Elrond smiled. He had good sons.
Sometimes they seemed younger than they really were simply because they
did not hide their hearts from him and place between them the distance
that some mistakenly believed came with age. “It was a very long
time ago young ones. It doesn’t hurt me to remember
Pain rippled through Elrond’s awareness from the
injury in his side and the elf lord drew his breath in
sharply. The chamber was eerily quiet for a few
moments. The diggers on the other side seem to have hit a snag or
rock or something because the sounds had halted for a few
“Ada?” the soft word rang in the darkness and Elrond
drew in a deep breath. He was fading in more ways than one, but
he had to hold on, he had to, for the two precious gems next to him
still needed him.
“Ada?” Elladan shook his father’s shoulder gently...
but he didn’t sound like Elladan anymore in Elrond’s head, he sounded
on, El, sit up. You’ve got to eat, you need your strength,” his
brother was coaxing him, trying to get him to respond before he got in
trouble with Fandril and their other guards. Elrond had barely
touched his food and his head rested heavily against his brother’s
shoulder. His breathing rattled alarmingly. Elros was
really beginning to fear that his brother intended to leave him as
Elrond would eat
if Elros fed him, but only slowly. He was fading and his will to
live was slowly evaporating.
“If he doesn’t
want to eat when it’s here, it’s on his own head,” Fandril took the
trays away from them, obviously impatient to be on with his day.
wait,” Elros swallowed his pride and pleaded for his brother’s
him sharply for talking back and gave Elrond a shove for good
measure. The semi-conscious elf whimpered slightly and Elros’
temper got the better of him.
“Why do you hate
us so much? Would it kill you to be a decent being for
once? Can’t you tell my brother is ill? He could die in
this hole!” the young one’s eyes snapped fire.
“Real elves don’t
get ill,” Fandril snorted, his face darkening like a cloud at being
rebuffed by a child. “This is what comes of Men and Elves mixing
as they have no business doing. You should never have been
born! Your blood is tainted! If you die you merely rid the
earth of your abominable presence. Some may call you elves but
you are not, for I will not claim any kinship with half-breeds!”
“Well who ever
said I wanted to be an elf anyway?” Elros shot back, too angry to think
of caution. Elrond, brought out of his stupor by the loud voices,
was tugging on his brother’s arm and shaking his head, knowing this
Elros was only going to get himself in trouble.
Elros ignored his
twin, his ire fully up. “And I wouldn’t want to be related to you
either! I am a man, like my father!” In reality
Eärendil was half-elven as well, but had always seemed to
associate more closely with his human kindred.
laughed. “You are *nothing*!
No race will claim you.”
“You lie!” Elros
spit at the older elf’s face, causing his brother’s eyes to go
wide. They were in sooo much trouble now.
Fandril wiped his
face, a dangerous scowl darkening his features. “You boy, are
going to pay for that.”
the older elf jerked the young one forward, pushing him up against the
wall and passing him off to some of the others to hold there as he
pulled a leather thong off his belt.
struggling to get to his feet and the older elf looked at him
dispassionately. “Put him up next to the other.”
realized Fandril meant to punish them both he began to struggle.
“No, don’t! He didn’t do anything, you’ll kill him! He’s
too weak! Please don’t!”
Their captors had
no mercy and Elrond could only lean trembling against the wall and
wince as the thick leather strap fell across his shoulders.
The guards might
have actually killed him unintentionally if they had been allowed to
continue, but it was then that Maglor, who was visiting his brother,
came upon what was going on. Hard the hearts of the sons of
Fëanor might have been, but he was not unmoved by the twins'
plight, having not been totally conscious of the condition they were
being kept in, nor the unreported brutality of the guards, of which
even Maedhros was not really aware.
Fandril stop the beating and looked with concern upon the thin, pale
faces of the twins. The ill one he judged would not survive
another week thus imprisoned. His heart moved for them and he
spoke to his brother, securing that the twins would be released into
his custody and return with him to his dwelling in the Gap. He
kept them bound in transport, but was surprisingly gentle towards his
young prisoners and tender in his care of Elrond’s illness and their
wounds. And the one thing he made sure of was that they were
never put in the dark again.
With fresh air,
sunlight and a reprieve from despair, Elrond revived and his strength
slowly began to return.
Elros laid his
hand on his brother’s head gently...//
But no, that was not Elros’ voice raised in
near-panicked concern, that was Elrohir's. And it was Elladan’s
hand that rested on his head. Elrond pulled himself alert once
more, realizing he had almost drifted off.
“Ada, don’t go!” Elrohir’s voice was pleading as he
and his brother exchanged worried looks over their father’s
“Shh... I’m here, it’s all right, I’m here,” Elrond
blinked slowly, his voice faint but tender. “I’m here. Now
where was I...?”
“You were imprisoned by the largest idiots ever to
mar Middle-earth and stuck in a dark hole like this one,” Elladan
prompted, realizing that telling the story was helping their father
stay with them as much as it was helping keep their minds off the
digging that had started up again just outside their refuge.
Elrond chuckled at his son’s descriptive choice of
words. “Yes, well, we didn’t stay there fortunately. Maglor
took us out and took us to his home. We were still captives, but
in Maglor’s house we were treated fairly. He put us to work for
him and we had to work hard, but Maglor allowed no one to abuse us at
least, and gradually, with time, our lot improved. As unlikely as
it seems he grew very fond of us, and we of him. Eventually he
set us free, although we stayed on for a time, scarcely knowing where
else in the world we would go. Eventually we moved to Eregion and
the lands beyond...”
“And that’s when you were given the choice,” Elrohir
“Yes,” Elrond sighed. “That’s when we were
given the choice... to choose forevermore whether we would be counted
among the race of elves or of men.”
Silence hung between them for a few moments, broken
only by the scratching outside.
Elladan and Elrohir looked at one another, trying to
imagine what it would feel like to have to make a choice that would
separate them like that. “Were you sad that Elros chose to be
mortal?” they couldn’t help asking.
“I was sad that we would not always be together, but
I loved my brother and I respected his choice. His heart lay with
men and he would never have been happy with the long life of the Eldar;
it would have wearied him, I understand that now. At the time of
course it was hard, and took me a long time to deal with. But I
can be happy for him now, because he lived the way he wanted to and
passed from this life in the manner in which he chose.
Besides...” he touched his sons’ heads gently. “The night he told
me what he chose, he reminded me of our mother’s words... and he was
right. His love is always with me, even as hers is, and I have
never been alone.”
The sound of something striking stone, very close
by, made them all jerk. “Are we going to die?” Elrohir whispered
quietly in the darkness. His voice was soft but did not
waver. If they had to die here, at least they would be
Elrond hugged the young ones tightly. “I have
something for the both of you,” he said instead of answering, reaching
into the breast pocket of his tunic. “I meant to give them to you
while we were on this trip... This isn’t exactly the setting I had
intended, and yet maybe it fits in a way.”
The elf lord pulled two palm-sized mithril brooches
out of his pocket. The two younger elves could see them sparkling
clearly in the three elves’ combined light. They were shaped like
small stars, woven from many twisting strands of mithril that looked at
the same time silver and gold. Beautifully fashioned creations of
careful craftsmanship they were and yet understatedly simple in
design. And they were both of them identical, down to the very
Elrond pressed one into each of his sons’
palms. “These were made for Elros and me, very long ago. A
gift from our parents. Now I want you two to have them. To
help you remember always how very, very much I love you, my sons.”
Gently wrapping his arms around their hurting
shoulders, Elrond kissed each of his boys gently on the top of their
The rock wall nearby shook and quivered from the
work being done on the other side and rocks began to slide and fall,
kicking up dust into the air.
“They’re breaking through,” Elladan whispered
quietly, holding tight to both his father’s shoulder and his brother’s
Elrond took a deep breath and gathered his
strength. His light had faded to an almost imperceptible gleam,
but he pushed himself upright, holding onto the cave wall and pulling
“Elladan, Elrohir, listen to me,” the elf lord said
urgently, turning to face his boys as the rocks began to fall away from
the wall in earnest. “We cannot let them trap us in here.
I’m going to try to push a way out and hold them. As soon as
there is an opportunity, I want you to run, my sons. No matter
what happens, do you understand me? I want you to run as fast as
you can and don’t look back. Find the others. And if...” he
stopped. “If I am not with you when you return to Imladris, tell
your mother that I love her and will be waiting for her.”
“Ada no!” Elladan was shaking his head. “We
won’t leave you!”
“We are not children, we will fight!” Elrohir nodded
Elrond shook his head firmly, his voice taking on an
edge of urgency. “No, you have to promise me! If you me
love, dear ones, promise me!”
Mournfully the twins murmured their promise, tears
filling their eyes.
Elrond kissed them both one last time.
“Remember what I told you,” he whispered. “You are never alone.”
The wall crumbled completely, opening a large,
gaping hole and filling the air with a thick, choking layer of
Elrond pulled himself up and stood at the
ready. His dull light flared suddenly bright and fierce as he put
himself between the opening and his children, one hand holding his
sword and the other clutching his side, bitter determination flaming in
calad! Drego morn!” The elf lord called out the ancient
battle cry in a loud voice as the last of the stones fell at his
feet. “Flame Light! Flee night!”
Elladan and Elrohir gripped one another’s hands
tightly, holding in the other hand the gifts their father had given
them. The sharp edges of the cool metal dug into their palms. “Lacho calad! Drego morn!”
They echoed their father’s cry with determined desperation. Expecting
the rush of orcs at any moment, their injured bodies trembled slightly,
betraying more weakness than they would have wished.