"Over here!" Elrond called sharply when he spotted the darker shapes
through the blowing snow. Elladan and Elrohir, who had fanned out to
either side in their desperate search, quickly followed their father’s
voice back to him.
At the base of a small cliff, the three elves found what they had both
wanted, and feared, most.
Legolas sat with his back against the wall; so much snow coated his
long hair that it looked silver in the fading light instead of gold.
The elf prince was clothed only in his tunic and leggings, wearing
neither cloak nor jerkin. In his frozen arms he held Aragorn close,
half-slumped over the form of the young ranger.
Aragorn was so cold his skin had picked up a whitish-blue tint, making
the cruel bruises and cuts on his face and body stand out stark and
painful against his pale flesh. He was wrapped in a blanket, his own
cloak, Legolas’ cloak and Legolas’ over-tunic, which the elf had
obviously given up in an attempt to save his friend. But when Elrond
touched him the young ranger was cold. As cold as the snow. So was
Legolas. For a heart-stopping instant the elvish lord thought both of
the friends were dead and they had indeed come a few moments too late.
The two sat huddled together, unmoving and half-buried in a snowdrift
that had blown up against the base of the cliff at their backs. Elrond
and the twins quickly shoveled the snow away from them with their hands.
"Estel? Estel!! Legolas? Estel!" Elrohir was shaking his little
brother, desperately searching for some sign of life.
Gently Elrond pulled Elrohir back, pressing his fingers under the side
of Aragorn’s chin. The elder elf felt nothing and he closed his eyes,
unwilling to accept that. Unwilling to have to give that news to his
sons. He placed his hand on Aragorn’s chest, pleading with heaven and
anyone else that would hear him to find a heartbeat. There, under his
hand, he felt it. Very faint, but unmistakably there. Aragorn was still
drawing breath, however weak and tenuous it might be.
"He’s alive," Elrond could not keep the relief out of his voice.
"Legolas too," he confirmed, finding a pulse on the prince somewhat
more easily. "But both of them are treading far too near the brink of
The slightest wind may push them over. They must have warmth and
treatment and very soon." The elf lord’s voice turned urgent and
determined. He knew what that meant.
"We’ll never make it back to Rivendell in time for that." Elrohir shook
his head in dismay. "It is yet two or three hour’s ride distant at
"No indeed," Elrond shook his head as Elladan brought extra blankets
from their packs and helped his father and brother wrap the two
unresponsive friends in them. "Legolas might make it that far, but
Estel never will. He is much too far gone already." The elder elf
pressed his hands gently on either side of his youngest son’s face,
assessing his condition gravely.
"Then there is only one choice," Elladan said grimly, with a touch of
steel in his voice.
Elrond nodded. "I fear so. However foolish and ill-advised it may seem,
we must take them back to Mannyn’s house."
"But he wants to kill Estel! He’s the one that caused all of this!"
Elrohir blinked in surprise, even though he had to admit the idea was
the only one plausible. "We cannot take Estel there, and he will never
Elrond’s look was hard and dangerous as he rose to his feet, lifting
Aragorn’s frozen, nearly lifeless body with him. "He will because he
does not have a choice. We must hope that Mannyn is not foolish enough
to wish to bring down the wrath of the elves upon his house, and we
will see to Estel’s safety. But if he does not have a fire and proper
care soon, it will not matter if he were taken to Valinor or
Barad-dûr, it will be too late."
Elrohir questioned no more, understanding now, and he and Elladan
lifted Legolas between them, carrying him back to their horses as
Elrond carried Aragorn.
Elrond placed his youngest son before him on his horse and wrapped the
soft, velvety folds of his fur-lined cape around the young
Dùnadan, pulling Aragorn’s frozen body close and sharing his
body warmth. The boy was so cold. Much, much too cold. Gently, Elrond
pressed his son’s head against his breast, letting his fingers twine in
Aragorn’s dark, unruly hair as he held the human firmly to him with his
other arm around Aragorn’s shoulders. At Elrond’s word, his horse
started off at a quick trot. The elves needed no reins to guide their
steeds, and that left their hands free to hold their frozen companions.
Legolas was mounted up in front of Elrohir, who positioned him so that
the prince’s back was to him, and he could hold him, securely wrapped
in a warm blanket and his own cloak, even as Elrond had done for Estel.
Elladan rode slightly ahead of them, making sure the way was clear, for
the blowing snow and fading light made things extremely treacherous,
and they could risk no further shock to their precious, fragile burdens.
Elrohir was concerned by the dead chill he felt rolling off of Legolas’
body in his arms. Elves did not usually get that cold. Even in this
weather, it surprised him greatly that the prince should have succumbed
to the cold without any other sign of a visible injury to have weakened
him to the frost’s deadly bite. He voiced this concern to his father.
"I don’t understand what is wrong with the prince," Elrohir said by way
of a question as he rode next to his father, once the wind had begun to
die down a little and made talking more convenient. "He is frozen
through... but... he is an elf, not a human like Estel, prone to the
rages of the elements."
Elrond glanced compassionately at the pale, cold face of the prince,
resting on his son’s shoulder. At first he had wondered the same thing,
but riding with Estel he had begun to get an idea of the young man’s
extremely fragile state and he thought now that he understood what had
"Legolas saved Estel," he said quietly. "He gave him so much of his own
strength that it drained him, critically. He will recover I think, if
only we can get him warm, dry and out of the elements, for his hurt is
not as grievous as your brother’s. But it was a brave and caring thing
he did. If we had not found them they both would surely have perished
out there." The elf lord’s voice was soft. He understood because he had
picked up where Legolas left off, supporting Aragorn’s fragile thread
of life as much as he could with his love and his warmth and his life.
But they had to get to shelter and fast or there would be nothing that
even Elrond could do to save either of them.
Elrohir’s arms tightened slightly around the unconscious prince. "I
already counted you a friend, Legolas," he whispered softly into the
prince’s ear. "But now I count you trice-blessed for bringing him back
to us...," his voice trailed off, caught in his own emotions.
Elrond heard his son’s quiet words and simply held Aragorn tighter. He
remembered years and years ago, when his own sons had still been young
children, and he had gone to comfort a hurting young elf prince though
all the interests of his mission had seemed against such a move. He had
saved Legolas’ life then, and now Legolas had saved his son’s. Indeed,
Legolas and Aragorn had saved each other’s lives so many times since
they met it seemed hard to keep track of them all. It was incredible,
sometimes, the way life worked out. Never quite the way you thought,
but always amazingly vast in its complicated intricacies. Truly, you
simply never knew what the future might bring.
When Mannyn’s house came into view at last, Elrond wished he could say
it was a welcome sight, but he knew that they were far from being out
of danger. Still, any shelter was preferable to this storm. For the
past half a mile a warg pack had been surreptitiously trailing them.
They were the smaller members of the breed, closer in size to normal
wolves than some of their larger kin, but they must be wild and
dangerous creatures indeed to be out in weather such as this. The three
elves were very aware of the situation, but the beasts had made no move
on them and kept their distance thus far. However, the sooner they got
indoors, the better.
No one was minding the estate’s main gates now and the drifting snow
had rendered them unable to be closed, so the three horses rode swiftly
through without hindrance.
Dismounting in the courtyard, Elrond brought Aragorn down with him,
shifting the young ranger in his arms so that he could more easily
carry him. Elladan took Legolas from his brother so Elrohir could
Legolas was beginning to stir and moaned softly when Elladan lifted him
down. Suddenly his half-opened eyes registered blind alarm and he
stiffened as his frozen mind tried to shake off the ice-crystals
encumbering it. He didn’t know where he was or what was happening, but
the one thing he could tell was that Aragorn was not in his arms
anymore. Panic for his friend washed over him. "Aragorn? A-Ara-"
"Shh..." Elladan gently touched Legolas’ pale lips, silencing his
fears. "It’s all right, we have him, we have you both. Come, Legolas,
we’ve got to get inside."
"Where...?" Legolas was still only barely functioning and couldn’t
begin to see through the falling snow. The wind whipped his hair in his
face and did not help matters. He recognized Elladan’s voice though,
and for that he was grateful.
"Mannyn’s house unfortunately," Elladan said with a hint of disdain.
"There is nowhere else near and Estel will not survive much longer in
this cold." He tried to pick the elf prince up, but Legolas was having
none of that; even half-frozen and barely conscious he insisted on at
least trying to walk, so Elladan relented and wrapped his arm under
Legolas’ armpits instead, supporting the staggering prince.
Legolas wasn’t at all pleased with Elladan’s words, but all his
concentration was focused on trying to walk and stay conscious, so he
said nothing more.
Mannyn’s old hostler, who had seen to their horses before, saw the
three figures ride in from his little apartment in the side of the big
house, beside the stables. He peered timidly out the stable door,
surprised that anyone should be out in this weather. He did not
recognize the elves through the blowing storm until Elrohir approached
swiftly and spoke to him.
"Here," the young elf quickly handed charge of their horses off to the
little man. "Please get them in out of the cold."
Elrond and Elladan were already heading up the path to the house’s
"Hoi! Hoi! You can’t just go up there! Mas’er say’s he’s not to be
disturbed! Hoi! Wait!" the little man dithered in alarm. He knew that
Mannyn would not be at all pleased to see the elves again.
"Just see to the horses!" Elrohir said with more than a hint of
impatience as he hurried to catch up to the rest of his family,
shooting the bothersome human a somewhat fierce look of annoyance over
The hostler scurried back into the stable quickly, taking the horses
with him. The elves frightened him and he had no wish to get on their
bad side, no matter what his master said.
The small company mounted the flagstone steps quickly, although the
steps themselves could no longer be seen under the snow. Elrond carried
Aragorn in front of him as he had when the young ranger was a child,
supporting Aragorn’s shoulders with one arm and his knees with the
other. Elrond had the strength of the elves to aid him, but he almost
did not need it. Aragorn had lost a lot of weight and seemed
frighteningly insubstantial in his arms. Whatever hurts the young human
had taken had come about over a far longer period of time than just
this one storm. Elrond’s face was grim. Someone had hurt his son and
hurt him badly. That did not sit well with the elf at all. The young
human’s head lolled lifelessly against Elrond’s shoulder as they
reached the top of the stairs and Elrond pulled the boy closer to him.
The last of the sun’s rays were fading from the sky and darkness was
upon them. The temperature was dropping like a stone down a bottomless
well and even the elf lord shivered at its severe bite.
Elladan, still supporting Legolas with one arm, pounded on the large,
wooden panels of Mannyn’s front door with his other. When the door was
not answered in the next five seconds, Elladan pounded again, louder.
Legolas had begun shivering violently again and the earth spun dizzily
around him. He leaned heavily on the elf supporting him, letting his
head rest against Elladan’s shoulder as he tried to keep the world from
going black once more.
After what seemed a long time, Mannyn himself pulled the door open,
holding a lantern to pierce the falling gloom and peering out at the
elves on his steps as if they were pesky beggars, or highwaymen, or
perhaps both. He was obviously surprised and not at all pleased to see
"What do you want?" he demanded with icy suspicion, making no move to
let them in, although the storm was obviously very fierce and the cold
"We want to come in!" Elladan
said somewhat hotly. His previous anger
towards this man quickly beginning to smolder once more. "We have sick
people here and they’ve got to get out of the elements, now!"
Mannyn’s gaze roamed dispassionately over Legolas’ pale, shivering
form, to Elladan, and to Elrond behind them... then he saw who it was
that the elf lord was holding in his arms and his eyes flashed ire no
less hot than Elladan’s.
"How dare you bring that murderer to my house?! Do you think to mock
me?" he spat angrily. He started to slam the door in their faces, but
Elladan was too quick for him. With his free arm he caught the door,
refusing to let it close. If he had not been supporting Legolas he
might have ripped the wooden portal right off its hinges.
Elrohir was by his brother’s side quickly and the two of them easily
forced the door open again, pushing Mannyn back into the corridor a few
Elladan’s eyes flashed dangerously as he shifted Legolas' weight. "You
try to close that door on us again and I swear we will take it apart
Elrohir’s glare was hardly less deadly.
"You can’t just shove your way into my house!" Mannyn was shouting in
both anger and fear, foolishly trying to push the door back against the
In a very few moments the two young elves just might have made good
their threat, but Elrond intervened before things could get out of hand.
Stepping up quickly into the space cleared by his son’s actions he
locked eyes with Mannyn, silently forbidding the man to look away from
him. "Listen to me Mannyn," Elrond said quietly, but with a soft
lethalness that the human would have done well to heed. "We are not
ruffians out to rob you nor beggars seeking charity. I will pay you for
your services if that is what you desire, anything you want that is in
my power to give you may have, but we must have a warm, dry place immediately or my son and his
friend are going to die. And I will not
let that happen. Do you understand me?"
Mannyn glared daggers at the elf lord, appearing to waver in
indecision. In truth he would have liked to see all of them dead, but
getting on the bad side of Lord Elrond and his sons was not something
to take too lightly. He seemed on the verge of refusing again anyway,
no matter how foolish that would have been, when Dolmè, roused
by the heated voices in the hall, came up beside him.
"Oh don’t trouble yourself, Master Mannyn, I’ll see to the visitors,"
she bustled up, intentionally taking the door handle out of her
employer’s hand. "You shouldn’t ought to be bothering yourself with
answering the door on a chill night like this, you’ll catch your
death!" she shivered, not allowing a word in edgewise. "Caw but it’s
cold out there, ain’t it? Do come in so we can stop letting all this
draft into the passage," she pulled the door open and allowed the elves
inside at last.
Dolmè knew exactly what she was doing. She had served Mannyn
long enough to know his moods and when he was about to do something
stupid before he’d actually thought it all the way through. She might
not have been too sorry if the elves had given the cruel old
man what he deserved, but if trouble could be avoided, the better. And
she would not see the visitors left out in the cold at any rate.
Mannyn scowled at the elderly woman, but gave way grudgingly as he
realized that denying his unwelcome guests would do no good.
"Come in then!" Mannyn snapped, glaring at Elrond as the elf carried
Aragorn quickly down the passage behind Dolmè who was busily
leading the wet, snow-clad figures away to the guestrooms. "But keep
your brats out of my sight!" he called after Elrond’s retreating back.
Elrond ignored the impossible man and kept his attention fixed on the
unconscious boy in his arms as he and his sons followed Dolmè
down the hall.
Legolas was very close to blacking out again as Elladan and Elrohir
eased him down onto the bed in the first guestroom. Elrond proceeded on
to the second room, a little further down the passage, and laid
Aragorn’s limp form gently down on top of the deep blue bed-spread,
quickly covering the young man with another quilt and two more blankets
that had been sitting unused on a stand by the window.
"If you need anything else, give me a call," Dolmè told him,
lingering in the doorway. She liked to watch the elves and the extreme
gentleness with which Elrond handled the young man on the bed was
touching. "I’d better go see to Master though, or he’ll be-"
"Dolmè? Dolmè!" Mannyn’s impatient voice called from
somewhere further off in the house.
Dolmè sighed and rolled her eyes. "Well there he goes, sure
enough. But do call if I can help, all right?"
"Thank you, Dolmè," Elrond nodded his gratitude at her, both for
her offer and for helping to avoid an incident a few minutes ago.
The woman left and Elrond turned back to Aragorn. The young human
looked so pale and fragile, and so very young, silhouetted against the
dark blankets. Elrond pushed back a wave of heartache as he smoothed
the boy’s damp, dark hair back from his forehead.
His sons’ raised voices down the hall made the elf lord look up quickly.
"Lie still or I’ll knock you out again myself," Elladan was firmly but
gently trying to keep Legolas in the bed he and his brother had placed
him in. "You’re not going to help anyone if you kill yourself."
"I need to get to Aragorn..." Legolas was not all the way there and was
moving solely on his last driving instinct to protect and sustain his
friend. "You don’t understand! He needs me, he can’t-can’t..."
"Estel is in good hands, Legolas," Elrond’s voice came in through the
doorway as he entered the room. Gently, the elf lord placed his palm
against the prince’s clammy forehead, seeming to have a calming effect
on him with just his touch.
Legolas relaxed slightly and his hurting body slumped back against the
headboard behind him. "But..."
"Shh," Elrond soothed him. "I know what you did, but you can support
him no longer, Legolas. Let him go, your own body needs you now. Rest,
regain your strength. I have taken over what you began and I will pull
Estel through this. Rest now. Rest."
Legolas needed very little encouragement; his body was already failing
him, refusing to support his consciousness any longer.
"Stay with him, Elrohir," Elrond charged his son as Legolas’ eyes
in utter exhaustion. "All he really needs is rest and time to regain
what he has given away. There is some mild frostbite I think; you have
the necessary things to treat it with you, I believe. If you need
anything else, come to me. But I must return to Estel." Aragorn’s
condition was not nearly so certain as he had wanted Legolas to
believe. "Elladan, come, I need your help."
Elladan followed closely on his father’s heels as the elder elf
returned to Aragorn’s bedside. "How bad is it?" The younger elf was not
fooled by his father’s words to the prince.
"Serious. Very serious I fear. There is some toxin, either a poison or
a drug in his system that will need to be flushed out. He has taken
grievous hurt from the cold and what other injures I may discover I do
not even know yet." Elrond was candid with his son. The elf lord was
very worried about his youngest.
"Legolas told me the man who had him kept Estel drugged with
something," Elladan commented in response to his father’s first
statement, glancing painfully at the small form of his brother on the
Elrond’s features hardened slightly and his lips thinned. "Then that is
part of what we’re still dealing with. I must seek something to purge
his system, but first we’ve got to get him warm. Would you build a fire
please?" he gestured towards the stocked, but unlit fireplace in the
corner of the room.
Elladan nodded and set to work at once.
Gently, Elrond eased Aragorn out of his wet, torn clothing. Blue-black
bruises, welts and abrasions, some old and fading, some fresh and
painful, were uncovered one by one as the elf lord removed the soiled
garments. Gently he washed the blood and dirt from his son’s face and
body, putting salve on the torn flesh and liniment on the bruises.
Aragorn flinched slightly and stirred, his brow knotted and his face
Elrond spoke softly in elvish as he tended the young man, hoping that
if Aragorn could hear him, his voice would be soothing. He had nothing
to change the ranger into, so he asked Elladan to rummage through the
old trunks and cedar chests that were shoved into the closet at the
back of the room. Apparently these quarters doubled as storage space,
for the elf found some garments that were about the right size and
helped his father re-dress his younger brother in a soft, warm tunic of
creamy wool with dark blue leggings.
"Take some of these clothes to your brother," Elrond instructed Elladan
after they finished. "Help him get Legolas changed as well. These wet
garments will do neither of them any good."
Elladan left and Elrond pressed the back of his hand against Estel’s
forehead with some concern. Aragorn’s face was no longer pale, but
beginning to flush deeply as the blood returned to his extremities.
Elrond knew the thawing would be extremely painful, but what worried
him more was that Aragorn’s rising temperature was quickly climbing far
beyond the normally expected flush. A fever was setting in, fast and
with a vengeance. The young ranger’s body was too weak and too far
compromised to fight it.
Aragorn stirred restlessly under his father’s hand. His face reflected
pain as he moaned softly, shifting uneasily under the covers.
"Shh... îdh Estel, ha mae,"
he whispered soothingly. "Rest, Estel,
it’s all right."
"F-father?" Aragorn murmured thickly, his eyes flittering momentarily
open. Elrond could see the extreme fever-brightness burning in the
young human’s glazed silver gaze. He could only barely see Estel behind
those eyes, but it seemed that the boy was very far away.
"I’m here Estel, shh... rest now," he tried to soothe the boy back to
sleep, but Aragorn’s face twisted with pain and he moaned again,
turning away from Elrond’s touch and burying his face into the
bedclothes. Aragorn felt as if he were burning up. After the extreme
cold, the warmth of his own thawing body was unbearable. His senses
were on fire and his mind was cloudy. He had no control over his
thoughts and his consciousness floated freely, only vaguely tethered to
reality, part as a result of his near-deathly illness and partly
because of the drugs that were even yet in his system.
Elrond laid his hand gently on the boy’s back, feeling the heat that
was radiating from the human’s body. Aragorn shuddered slightly
under his hand, the quilts muffling his soft, dry sob.
"D-don’t..." the young ranger murmured, and Elrond started to pull
back, but Aragorn kept talking. "Don’t leave. I-I’m sorry. Please,
father... don’t leave me this time!" the words were a mere begging
"I’m not going anywhere, Estel," Elrond assured gently, rolling the
young man onto his back once more and laying a cool, damp cloth on his
feverish forehead. "I’ll always be here if you need me."
"No... no you’ll leave again..." Aragorn wasn’t really conscious. As
far as he knew he was merely trapped in another Belithral
hallucination. But these were the ones he could not stand... "Don’t...
don’t please... I-I was cold, b-but now I’m so hot..." he tossed
restlessly. "Make it stop... make it stop!"
Elrond realized the young man was delirious. "I wish I could, Estel,"
said earnestly, his heart tearing. "I wish I could."
Elladan reentered the room and stood quietly at the foot of his
brother’s bed, watching in painful silence. Elrond motioned him closer
and gestured to his bag, lying open on the floor. "Elladan, mix me up
a hythinyns compound. We have to get something into his blood to fight
the toxins and bring his temperature down."
Elladan nodded and complied quickly, well versed in his father’s many
different healing potions, poultices, draughts and herbs. He prepared
the required solution and Elrond mixed it with water, half-helping,
half-forcing Aragorn to drink it.
As Elrond laid him back down, Aragorn’s breathing began to speed up. He
was becoming more and more disturbed as reality slid ever further away
from him. Elrond could only hope that the antitoxin he had given the
boy would take effect quickly. It hurt him to see Aragorn this way.
The young Dùnadan tossed his head feverishly. "I’m sorry... I’m
sorry! I-I know I’m just a man... too weak, I know it... b-but I need
you..." the words became a stifled sob as his distress mounted. "I need
you! Don’t turn away from me... no! Please no... don’t leave me again,
please... father... please..."
Elrond pressed his eyes shut tightly for a moment and when he opened
them again, Elladan could see that they glistened in the firelight,
moist with the elven lord’s anguish. Taking both sides of Aragorn’s
burning face in his hands, Elrond held the young man’s head still,
leaning close and willing the boy to hear him.
"Listen to me, Aragorn. Listen to me. I will not leave you. I have
turned my back on you and I never will. I would never reject you for
being human, or weak, or for any other reason under this sun! Do you
hear me, Estel? I will not abandon you!" Elrond pleaded firmly,
imploring Aragorn to hear him and understand.
For several long moments it seemed to the elf lord that he was
struggling with the darkness of despair and illness that was keeping
Aragorn’s spirit away from the light, but gradually, ever so gradually,
the Dùnadan was responding to his call.
After what seemed a very long time, Aragorn blinked slowly, and for the
first time that evening, Elrond could see his son in the ranger’s deep
grey eyes. Aragorn just blinked, testing the vision before
him, trying to be sure this was real and not another drug induced
Elrond squeezed his son’s hand, smiling gently. "Welcome back, Estel,
you’ve had us worried."
Aragorn smiled back weakly, almost too exhausted to even speak.
"Father," he whispered as his eyes closed again on their own, content
that the one before him was truly flesh and blood this time.
"Yes, Estel, I am here," Elrond sat down on the bed, pulling the young
ranger’s shoulders into his lap so Aragorn’s head could rest cradled
against his chest. "I am here."
"I know," Aragorn murmured faintly as he fell back asleep. "I know."
Legolas slept deep and sound. So deep was his slumber and so serious
his exhaustion that he rested with closed eyes, his breathing soft and
Elrohir, seated in the chair beside the sleeping elf’s bed, had treated
the prince for minor frostbite on his fingers, but Legolas had been
otherwise unharmed and the dark-haired elf knew his charge was out of
danger. Elladan had come in a few minutes ago to tell his brother that
Estel too, was resting safely at last, although it had been touch and
go for a long time.
Relieved and weary from cold and care, Elrohir leaned forward, resting
his head and folded arms on the edge of Legolas’ bed. The room was warm
and filled with the soothing sent of the herbs he had used on Legolas’
frostbite. Slowly, the elf drifted silently into an emotionally
Mannyn held the glass of wine so tightly in his fist that his grip
almost threatened to pop the bowl of the cup from the stem. He glared
at the fire dancing on the hearth before him with dark, brooding eyes.
Dolmè had retired for the evening about a half hour ago, but he
could still see lights burning from the guest rooms commandeered by the
elves, curse them.
Blast that fool of a bounty hunter for bungling his job! That straggly
young whelp of a ranger should have been his! Should have been cringing
under the most painful death that Mannyn could contrive to give him...
not resting like a guest in his halls! And blast those stupid elves for
interfering! What right did they have to keep sticking their noses into
the affairs of the humans around them anyway? Rivendell held no
dominion over him and Elrond was no king that Mannyn should have to
obey him like a whipped cur...
Downing the drink and pouring himself another, Mannyn continued to
stew, his ire rising notch by notch and expanding inside him
like frozen water in a sealed jar... threatening to shatter the vessel
that contained it.
Dolmè didn’t know he had the alcohol hidden in his chambers,
interfering busybody that she was, or she would never have let him
about it. Honestly, she forgot her place sometimes. Always
so worried about his condition... Mannyn drained that glass as well and
poured another, his shaking hand splashing the crimson liquid on the
dark rug under his chair, splattering against the three empty bottles
that had already fallen there. To hell with his condition! As if
there was anything that would make it better or worse... what use was
there fighting the inevitable? What point was there in living anyway?...
The old man’s eyes narrowed, dark, perilous fire kindling in their
twisted depths. There was one thing left to live for: Vengeance. And
once that was accomplished, who cared what happened?
Angrily, the man threw the empty wine bottle across the room. It
smashed against the wall, bursting into a thousand pieces and streaking
the stones red, as if with blood. Mannyn smiled, liking the analogy.
There would be blood in this house tonight, one way or another.
The ranger was going to pay and so would the elves that protected him.
Elrond would pay for his interference... yes he would pay most dear.
Tugging open the hidden compartment near the fireplace mantel, Mannyn
shoved the extra wine bottles aside and pulled out a different kind of
vial. A satisfied smile twisted his face. It was a good thing he hadn’t
given that idiot Dyryn all the belithral...