Stories > First
Elrond stood protectively in front of his sons,
ready to defend them from whatever should come. However, instead
of the black horde they expected, another light shown into the chamber
from the other side of the hole as the dust slowly settled.
Peace!” A familiar voice called out to them. “Elrond, is that
Elrond nearly sagged in relief at the sound of the
fair words, letting his sword drop to his side and leaning his shoulder
against the wall. “Glorfindel! It is I, and the twins,” he
responded as the other elf lord stooped to pass through the low hole
that had been made before, straightening up and taking in the
Behind Glorfindel, Elrond could see the faces of the
other elves from the hunting party peering in through into the gloom.
The twins ran up and unabashedly hugged the very
welcome newcomer, throwing their arms around the golden-haired friend
of their father in relief and welcome.
Glorfindel,” Elrond smiled ruefully, clutching his side tightly, but
smiling through his weariness. “Very
well met indeed, but what of the orcs?”
“They are slain, they will trouble you no more,”
Glorfindel offered Elrond his arm, concern crossing his fair
face. “But they seemed to have been so intent on digging through
this rockslide... we thought we had better see what they were trying to
“And I’m so very glad you did,” Elrond
murmured. “Although you may have taken years off an immortal life
by not announcing yourselves sooner!” he shook his head.
Unfortunately that caused the world to spin around him and he stumbled,
clutching the wall harder as the already dark room plunged into
The elf lord’s knees buckled and he fell.
Elrohir and Glorfindel caught him. “Ada! Ada!”
Quickly he was taken outside and laid on the grass
where the other elves could see to his wounds.
“Ai, Elbereth,” the golden-haired elf murmured when
he saw Elrond’s injury. “Even a half hour more and this would
have been beyond aide.” Seeing the frightened faces of Elladan
and Elrohir looking at him, the older elf quickly softened the concern
on his features. “But fear not, young ones, even those of us not
as skilled as your father in healing can be of some use. He will
not leave us yet, I promise you.”
Elladan held his father’s head in his lap while
Elrohir helped Glorfindel wash and cleanse the wound. Then the
elves tended to the twins’ injuries, and it was obvious from the
angered and painful looks on the elder elves’ faces that the cruel
abuse heaped upon the young elves burned each heart to see. But
Elladan and Elrohir cared nothing for their own hurts anymore, grievous
as they were; their concern was only for their father.
After what seemed a very long time, the elf lord’s
eyes finally fluttered open again, locking immediately onto the worried
faces of his children. He smiled weakly, reaching for them.
They scooted closer. “I told you, didn’t I?” he whispered
hoarsely. “We are never alone,” he inclined his eyes
upward. “Ilúvatar was watching over all of us this day my
“Ada?” Estel’s weak, but clear voice made all three
elves look up and smile. His wounds were dressed but he had
fallen into unconsciousness for a while and was only now waking
up. Elrond had been speaking quietly to him the whole time
and the boy turned tired, blood-shot eyes on his father. “What
did you say, Ada?”
“I said that Ilúvatar was watching over you
my son,” Elrond said gently, arranging Estel’s dark hair on the
“That’s funny,” the young human murmured.
“That’s what you said in my dream... Or something like it. Elrond
and Elladan were there too, but it was very dark... and there were
other young elves... I think... and a brilliant jewel... or was that
somewhere else?” his brow creased in confusion. “I don’t
Elrond kissed the boy’s forehead. “We’ve been
worried about you my son. I’m just glad you’re all right.”
“I don’t feel
all right,” Estel moaned slightly.
“I shouldn’t wonder!” Elrohir chuckled.
“Considering we pulled more splinters out of you than a new-hewn
tree-branch. Estel, what happened?”
Estel’s eyes clouded slightly. “I-I’m sorry,”
he apologized right up front because he felt he was going to have to do
a lot of it. “I know I shouldn’t have let them goad me...”
“Who Estel?” Elladan interrupted him.
“Just some of the older kids from Strayton...” Estel
hedged. When he said older he meant older, considering most of
the young men who had picked on him were at least two to four years his
senior. “I didn’t mean to get tangled up with them, honest, I was
just exploring the old mill down by the river...”
stuff,” Tyrin, one of the oldest, biggest boys shoved Estel from
behind, making him stumble forward, down the incline towards the
river. “This is our place. What are you doing here?”
Tyrin was an
unabashed bully and so were his friends. This old mill, quite
some ways from town, was a favorite gathering place of theirs.
All the youngsters in Strayton knew that and avoided it. But
Estel was not from the nearby human town and had had very few dealings
with its people... or with any other humans for that matter.
don’t you know what’s good for you?” someone else put in.
Estel took several
deep breaths before turning around so that when he faced the other boys
his expression was neutral. He had been taught to handle things
with a level head. He didn’t even know these boys; there was no
reason for there to be animosity between them. He hadn’t known
that this place was off-limits.
“I’m sorry, I
thought this mill was abandoned. I didn’t know it belonged to
you. I was just looking around-” the young human started to
“'I was just
looking around',” the bigger boy mocked him in a high-pitched tone,
making fun of the fact that Estel’s voice hadn’t changed yet. The
other boys laughed. They were bored and looking for something to
do. Unfortunately, picking on the new kid who had stumbled upon
their hangout seemed like a pretty good way to waste some time.
“We exact a fee
from trespassers around here, orc-bait!” a tall boy on the right
Estel was getting
mighty tired of being called that. He was trying to be diplomatic
with these people, but they were being so difficult! “My *name* is Estel,” he informed them
curtly. “And if this is your land, then I will gladly move
along. Good day.”
“Estel? What kind of name is Estel?!” another one of Tyrin’s
friends mocked, moving into Estel’s path so he couldn’t pass.
“Sounds like a girly name! I haven’t seen you around town.
Are you new here, girly boy?”
“No, my home is
over the hills,” Estel kept his temper to himself. He didn’t
understand why the other teenagers didn’t like him without even knowing
him, but he didn’t want to give them more reason to do so. “I
don’t live in Strayton.”
hills? There’s nothing out there!” one of the boys shook his
head. “You’re putting us on.”
recognition sparked in Tyrin’s eyes. “I know you, I *have* seen you before. You’re never with the
other kids from town, but you hang out with those elves, I’ve seen
you!” Tyrin gave the younger boy another sharp shove.
“Yes, so?” Estel
turned again and walked back up the slope towards the mill, away from
the other boys. Inside his heart stung at their mocking, but
outwardly he remained totally calm-faced, which only made the other
“So why do you
waste your time with them? Your own kind isn’t good enough for
you?” the boys dogged Estel’s steps. “Why don’t we ever see you
in the fields, or out playing, or even in the school?” Not all
children attended the small community lessons that the rural village
sometimes offered, so that was tacked on last.
shrugged. “I’m busy. I told you, I don’t live near
town. I have my lessons at home.” The boys were still not
letting him all the way up the hill and back towards the road, so he
clambered up the side of the huge, broken water-wheel that hung still
and useless on the land-side of the deserted mill, wanting to be away
from the unpleasant youngsters.
you stupid or something?” the village boys were not taking the hint
that he wanted to be left alone. They were having too much
“Where do you
live, in a cave?”
and my father teaches me because Lord Elrond is the wisest person there
is.” Estel settled himself on the top of the wheel, using one rung as a
seat as he absently worked at pulling a smooth stone out of a small
crevice where it had become jammed in the wheel.
You *live* with the
elves? Geez, no wonder you’re so weird!” Tyrin leaned against the
bottom of the wheel. “Lord Elrond can’t be your father. He’s an
elf and you’re just as human as we are, freak!”
“I was adopted.”
Estel leveled the troublesome boys with a look that clearly showed he
thought they were all morons for not grasping the obvious. He was
getting very tired of them. “I trust you know what that means.”
“Means you’re a
nobody who’s not a man and not an elf,” one of the boys at Tyrin’s
elbow jibed. “And you’re just a big sissy boy like all those
The boys started
to pull on opposite sides of the old water-wheel, attempting to
unbalance Estel and bring him down.
quickly up onto the roof of the mill, deciding that these boys knew
absolutely nothing if they were calling elves sissies. That
notion was so absurd it was laughable. “Leave me alone. You’re
Having grown up
around elves many times his senior, Estel had picked up many ‘old’ ways
of talking. Unfortunately, this only fueled the other humans’
scathing amusement and ire.
laughed with a wicked grin as he climbed up the side of the wheel
towards Estel. “A little girly whelp like you is calling *me* immature?”
Estel glared, his
patience totally worn out. “Frankly I’m surprised you even know
what the word means...” the boy backed slowly away across the creaking
slating of the old mill roof, his eyes darting around sharply, looking
for a way off as the other boy pulled himself up, his face coloring
“What did you
say? What did you say to me, orc-bait? Are you calling me
an idiot?!” Tyrin menaced, advancing on the smaller boy as
several of Tyrin’s friend climbed up onto the roof behind him.
“Are you *looking* for a
“I’m not looking
for anything, I just want you to leave me alone!” Estel backed away
slowly, looking for a way out as the other boys converged on him.
The boards under his feet creaked unstably and Estel stopped moving
back; he could tell the boards were rotten here and would not hold his
weight, he could go no further this way. Unfortunately, the right
side of the mill dropped away sharply into the river and the left
overhung a tangled mass of sharp debris and broken fencing.
Neither looked promising to jump from and he could not go back or
forward with the boys blocking him in...
hard and stood his ground. “Fighting doesn’t solve anything,” the
boy shook his head. “I don’t want to fight you. Let me
“'I don’t want to
fight you, let me down',” Tyrin mocked again. “Coward! Make
us!” With that he rushed the other boy.
quickly, evading the boy’s rush and ducking under the hands of a
second. Striking out with calculated moves, he caught a third boy
in the stomach and flipped him over his back, dancing sideways, edging
towards the water-wheel and the only safe way down.
Seven to one,
Estel was badly out-numbered, but the training he had been receiving
from an early age stood him in good stead. He had nearly reached
the wheel when the rotten beam beneath his foot snapped, making him
stumble and fall to his hands and knees on the slick roofing.
The other boys
never gave him the chance to get up again. Pouncing on him like
wargs on their prey the older children punched and kicked the younger
boy viciously. Estel fought back, but against such odds there was
little he could do but try to twist away from the worst of the
Squirming out of
their grip and rolling he sprung to his feet, only to run smack into
Tyrin’s fist. Estel stumbled, his lip bleeding, and Tyrin caught
him by the shirt. The older boy spun the younger around, taking
full advantage of his superior size and weight.
was not easily tossed off and ducked under Tyrin’s second blow, coming
back with his own that caught the bully in the mouth, cracking a tooth
and making the older boy let go of him. Estel stumbled back a
pace, and half-dodged one of the other boys who tried to tackle
him. But the shove threw him off balance and his boots skidded on
the loose roofing shingles. His hands found only air as he
tumbled off the edge of the mill roof and down onto the sharp spikes of
the broken fencing that lay in a tangled, dangerous heap on the left
side of the tall building.
Tyrin and the
others looked over the edge in shock, taking in where the other boy had
fallen, how the spikes had caught him, and the blood that was already
starting to well up around the ugly wounds. Estel’s neck was bent
back and he wasn’t moving.
To say that the
boys on the roof were frightened was an understatement.
“Oh geez we’ve
killed him!” one of Tyrin’s friends quailed, backing away and
scrambling for the wheel.
“It was an
accident! It was an accident!” Tyrin felt sick. He
hadn’t meant for that to happen. None of them had. “Let’s
go, come on, let’s get out of here!” There was a mad scramble to get
happen, do you hear me? None of us were here!” Tyrin shot one
terrified glance back at the still body before turning and fleeing with
the others. “It was an accident!”
hearing the sounds of the retreating boys as consciousness slowly
returned. His neck had come within inches of snapping, but it had
not and he had miraculously broken nothing. However the sharp,
raw ends of the broken wood posts had cut him and one spike had torn
deep into his right leg. Pain engulfed his whole being.
“Wait!” he called
when he realized the other boys were going to just leave him
there. “Wait, please! I-I can’t move. I can’t...” his
mind was hazy from the fall and from his own hurt. “Please don’t
leave me! Don’t leave me here alone! Please!”
But the other boys
never heard him. They were already long gone. Estel tried
to move, but when he attempted to get free of the narrow shard that
pierced his upper leg, he nearly passed out again. He called out
for help until he lost his voice, but no one heard. He was
trapped and no one even knew where he was.//
Estel had no idea how much time later it was when
his brothers found him there, but by then his body had already slid
into shock and he remembered very little except the aching feeling of
how alone and helpless he had been.
“I’m sorry,” Estel apologized again, playing with a
corner of the silken sheet that lay pulled up to his chest.
Except for the ache in his legs, he didn’t feel too bad anymore; but he
feared he was in trouble, which was worse. “I didn’t try to get
in a fight with them, honestly I didn’t.”
“I know you didn’t Estel, I’m not angry this time,”
Elrond assured the boy. Estel had been in trouble for fighting
before, but this time it was most assuredly not the youngster’s
fault. He had handled himself in a way that did him great credit
and Elrond was proud of him, if also heart-broken at the hurt he had
Elladan was still furious, although he contained it
well for Estel’s sake. “They didn’t even check to see if he was
still alive!” he said quietly. “Estel would have died from their
thoughtlessness if we hadn’t found him when we did.”
Elrond nodded slowly. For once he agreed with
Elladan’s level of ire. “You can be sure I will be speaking to
someone about this. Those boys parents will know what they’ve been up to.”
“Ada...” Estel’s tired voice made the elf lord look
down again. “Ada, they said I wasn’t anything because I was a man
who called elves my family. But that’s not true. Why did
they say that? I-I am something, aren’t I?”
Elrond closed his eyes before taking his youngest’s
hands in his. He could still hear the words that had been thrown
at he and his brother so many years ago...
You are *nothing*! No race will claim you...
Yes, he knew how Estel felt. “Oh Estel,
of course you are. I don’t know why people say
cruel things to one another but, my son, what they said was a
lie. You are a man, and that is a proud heritage to bear.
You are the son of a very, very good man and woman who were close to
your brothers and to me. And most of all, Estel, you are the son
of my heart. I will always love you and be with you.”
Estel smiled, but then looked down. “No you
won’t,” he whispered softly. “Elves go away. They go away
where I never can. Someday you will all leave me.” He
looked achingly between his brothers and father.
“No, Estel,” Elrond soothed the boy’s fears
gently. “No matter where you are, or where we are, we will always
be with you because our love will always be with you.”
Elrohir nodded, touching his little brother’s
shoulder. “And no power in Arda or anywhere else can ever change
that,” he promised.
Elladan had left their side for a moment, but now he
reappeared, holding his cloak in one hand. The other hand was
closed around something that the others could not see. Dropping
the cloak, Elladan knelt beside his little human brother’s bed.
“Estel? A long time ago, Ada gave Elrohir and
me something very special. It belonged to him and his brother
before us. Now I want you to have it.” Elladan gently
pressed his mithril brooch into his younger brother’s palm, smiling as
he saw Estel’s eyes light up both in awe and surprise.
Estel had admired those particular pieces of jewelry
since he was a little child and would play with them on the twins’
cloaks when they held him in their arms. The human had always
been fascinated by the graceful curves and the shiny alloy.
“Elladan, you can’t give me this, you love this
brooch, you and Elrohir always wear them!” Estel tried to refuse, but
his older brother just took his hand and closed the human’s fingers
around the smooth, cool clasp.
“And I love you,
little brother,” Elladan smiled, ruffling the young one’s hair.
“And I want you to have it, because you are a part of our family and I
want you to have the same gift with it that father gave us. The
knowledge of how very much we will always love you.”
Elrohir smiled at his brother. Elladan
certainly had his moments. The light on Estel’s bruised and drawn
face was beautiful to see as he held the prized treasure close.
Elrond watched his children with eyes that were
full. Full of love, full of life, full of happiness.
“You would be proud of this descendent of yours,
Elros,” he whispered quietly. “He is so like you, my brother.”
“Now, Estel,” Elrohir’s grin turned impish as he let
himself flop down on the end of the bed, careful of his younger
brother’s injuries. “I hope you don’t think this means you’re
getting out of your week of stable duty. You lost that archery
contest to me fair and square yesterday and I do believe I remember
something about that supposed to be starting tomorrow...”
Estel rolled his eyes, chuckling slightly. “I think I’ll jump up
there and go do it right now.”
“Don’t egg him on, El, you know he just might!”
Elladan shook his head.
Elrond rose as the three brothers teased each other
quietly. “Well I think I
am going to go fix some tea for Estel while there is still some sanity
left in the room...” he said as he headed for the door. “Elladan,
Elrohir, when you can spare the time, you can clean this mess up a
It took a few moments for the others to catch what
he had said.
“Look out,” Elrohir murmured with mock-drama as he
scooted off the bed. “Father’s making tea!”
Elladan and Elrohir started laughing helplessly, and
Estel just looked between them in confusion.
“So? What’s so funny? El?! What’s
so funny?” Estel demanded when his brothers only laughed.
“You’ve never had father’s tea before, have you?”
Elladan just shook his head as he rose to his feet.
“I think I feel bedtime for young humans coming on.”
Elrohir ruffled the younger boy’s hair as they had a habit of doing and
Estel pulled away, batting at his big brother’s hand.
Estel rolled his eyes. “Stop treating me like
a baby. I’m not tired and I want to know why you’re laughing.”
“Oh you will be tired soon,” Elladan replied
cryptically as they began to clean up the room, putting away the
bandages and loose herbs that were strewn about from their urgent haste
earlier in the day.
A pillow hit the elder twin smack in the back of the
head, making him drop the things he had gathered up. Elladan
turned quickly only to catch another pillow straight in the face.
A seam burst and feathers floated gently around the tall elf, creating
an incredibly comical picture.
Elrohir, on the other side of the room,
laughed. “He got you good that time El!”
Estel, on the bed, was trying to look innocent even
though he was now sans two pillows that had been there before.
“Did you loose something, little brother?” Elladan
advanced on the bed with a wicked grin, holding the offending article
in front of him.
Estel gave his big brother the most wide-eyed “Who,
me?” look he could muster. Elladan was not impressed.
“Hey, hey...” Estel scooted back against the
headboard of his bed as much as he could as Elladan came closer.
“You can’t touch me, I’m hurt, see? I’m recovering!” He
held a pillow up between them.
“Oh really?” Elladan climbed up onto the side of the
bed next to him. “You seem awfully spunky to me...”
“Yes really, hey, stay away! You can’t hit me
back, Ada wouldn’t like it!” The young boy grinned impishly and tried
to whack Elladan with the pillow he held, but found Elladan was quicker
and caught it, easily twisting it out of his little brother’s
“No, dear brother?” Elladan smiled, kneeling
carefully over Estel but being incredibly cautious of his brother’s
injuries, so that the younger one couldn’t escape him, yet was not
being harmed. Pushing the pillow up under the human’s chin
Elladan pulled a handful of feathers from the broken seam. “But I
can make you eat it!” he chuckled evilly, tickling Estel’s nose and
face with the loose, silky feathers and making the boy laugh
“No fair! Hey, Elladan! Stop!
Elrohir, however, was laughing so hard he was
The sound of a very familiar voice clearing his
throat made them all stop and look up. Elrond was standing in the
doorway with a tray holding a steaming cup of tea on it, one eyebrow
arched very high. He walked into the room, glancing at the
feathers that were floating lightly down to the floor around him.
“Elladan, get off your brother,” he couldn’t keep
the smile out of his voice no matter how hard he tried.
Elladan rolled off the bed and Estel shot him a
‘told you so’ look. “Give me back my pillow.”
Elladan promptly planted the pillow he was still
holding right in the boy’s face.
“Elladan!” Elrond had to set the tray down or he was
going to spill. Sometimes his sons were simply too much, and they
had a fondness for this particular type of merriment that had not grown
less with age... nor did it seem likely to.
Elladan’s eyes were innocent. “What? He
wanted it back.”
Elrond shook his head, pushing the pillows where
they belonged behind Estel’s back and head once more and handing the
boy his tea. “Remind me which of you is the young one,” the elf
lord muttered. “I told you to clean the room up, not make it a
worse disaster. I swear I lose more pillows to the three of
you! Will you never outgrow that habit?”
“Probably not,” Estel said with a grin as he
finished the warm, soothing liquid in the cup he was holding.
Strangely, he was beginning to feel very sleepy. “We’ll probably
be doing it still when I’m an old man...” he yawned and blinked, his
head starting to feel very heavy. “Do you really mind, Ada?” he
asked somewhat blearily as his head began to nod.
Elrond smiled gently, taking the empty cup from
relaxing fingers, easing the boy’s head back against his pillows.
“Of course not. I hope it never changes, Estel,” he whispered
quietly as the boy drifted off to sleep, lulled by the herbs Elrond had
added to his tea.
Elrohir gently pulled the sheets up to Estel’s chin,
tucking the young boy’s arms under the covers. He paused.
The clasp Elladan had given him was still clenched firmly in one
slender fist and even in slumber Estel wasn’t about to let it go.
Elrohir just smiled as he put that hand on the boy’s
chest and pulled the covers over it. “I think that meant a lot to
him, El,” he glanced at his brother with a smile.
Elladan smiled, brushing stray feathers down from
Estel’s tumbling dark locks. “I wanted him to know.”
Elladan’s eyes caught his father’s, seeking approval for his
actions. After all, he knew the history behind what he had given
Elrond touched his son’s shoulder gently, moving to
let one hand rest on the back of either twin as he stood looking
between them. “Estel should have died today, but he did not,” he
whispered softly. “The day I gave you those brooches, I should
have died, but did not. So often, we see only the bad that
happens when we feel there should have been good, and not the good that
happens when tragedy would have been the more ready option. That
is something for us all to hold onto, I think.” He smiled at his boys,
all three of them.
The twins let their arms meet behind their father’s
back and Elrohir reached down to let his fingers drift across Estel’s
forehead while Elladan touched their little brother’s hand, creating an
unbroken circle of love that seemed to visibly brighten the small room.
It was true. None of them would ever truly
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