Siege of Dread
Chapter 6: Take this Out of Me
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all souls want it back
some uncover the cost...
The house was in sight at last, thank the Valar. Elladan shifted
the weight of the elf leaning on his shoulder. The other warrior
was trying not to be a burden, but a badly turned ankle that was
possibly broken was no light matter. Elladan himself had only
cuts and some wicked bruises, but getting back down into the steep
valley with their wounded comrades had been a long and painful process.
Behind him, Elladan heard Elrohir whispering encouragement to the young
Dùnadan he was supporting. “We’re almost there, see? Just
hold on,” Elrohir’s voice was
gentle and encouraging; carefully free of his sorrowful fear that the
light of the young man he was almost carrying was going to be snuffed
like a candle in the wind at any moment. The boy was barely as
old as Aragorn when Aragorn first met Legolas. Elrohir hated to
lose them this young. Babies. Just babies.
Elrohir stole a sideways glance at Glorfindel who walked to the twins’
left, carrying yet another wounded and unconscious elf in his
arms. The elder elf was quiet, but Elrohir could tell he was
helping to support the younger warrior in his arms with his own
strength, as Elrohir had often seen his father do... as he was trying
to do with the boy he was helping.
It was a sad group that made its way back to Rivendell today. The
losses and casualties were grievous, such as had not been seen by this
peaceful vale since the Second Age.
“Almost there,” Elladan murmured as they drew nearer to the beautiful
and welcoming vista of his home. At least some things were still
as they should be.
The warg attack had finally been routed and driven back, although at
the last it seemed almost as if they had received some unknown signal
to withdraw, so quick was their retreat. Elladan could not shake
the disturbing feeling that they had not so much won the fight as been
allowed to disengage. Yet that was highly unusual. Orcs did
not retreat unless on the point of defeat, preferring to ruthlessly
destroy their enemies while there was still any chance of bringing them
down and, while the elder twin hated to admit it, they had been doing a
pretty good job of bringing the elves and rangers down.
A cautious rear-guard, on the lookout for any trickery or reappearance
of their enemy, had been assigned to patrolling the outer perimeter
around the valley and envoys had been sent to Strayton to see if they
had also been attacked, although at the moment it seemed that Rivendell
had been the sole recipient of the onslaught. Another curiosity
to be tucked away for a later date: why would the raiding orcs attack
an elven stronghold while a much more vulnerable human village was
barely a day’s journey away?
Elladan felt that there were disturbing answers to these questions
hovering just out of his grasp, but for now that would have to
wait. Their focus was on the wounded. Rivendell was a place
of peace, a haven, not a fortress and the warriors who made their home
in this valley were few now in comparison to the elder days. The
border guard they had posted required nearly all the available warriors
who were yet uninjured. That left only a small handful to
accompany Elladan and Elrohir back to their father’s house with the
wounded. Most of them were also nursing injuries, although of
lesser gravity than some.
Elladan wondered in which category Aragorn and Legolas would fall when
they reappeared. He was sizably disturbed that he had not seen
them yet, but the fighting had been very widespread and they could be
some distance away by now; there were many warriors who had not yet
It gave him a mental chuckle to consider the long-suffering look that
would grace his father’s features if either his brother or the elven
prince were once again unceremoniously dragged home by the other; an
occurrence not too uncommon over the long years of their
friendship. Elladan never for a moment considered that they might not reappear eventually; he could not. However, once the
wounded were taken care of, if Elrond had things under control, he
would certainly beg leave to go search for them.
The elder twin’s relief at being home quickly began bleeding away into
apprehension as they neared the house. Something felt wrong.
“Something is not right,” Elrohir echoed his twin’s thoughts in a
whisper. “I don’t... don’t hear anything. El?” the younger
twin was not yet ready to trust his newly restored hearing and looked
to his brother to see if he were merely missing something.
Elladan was frowning. He didn’t hear anything either and realized
that that was part of what was bothering him. No birds, no murmur
of movement from within the house, no sound of feet pattering in the
halls nor the soothing tones of his father’s voice as he tended the
No, there was something, only just detectable to the elven hearing. A dripping sound.
No one could say why, but the small sound sent a hard chill through them all.
Elladan and Elrohir’s free hands dropped immediately to the hilts of the swords at their side.
Glorfindel’s face creased into a deep frown. He set the elf he
was carrying down carefully, keeping one hand on him. “Leave the
wounded here,” he said quietly. “Something is amiss.”
Elladan and Elrohir concurred with that assessment all too well.
Quickly they eased their charges down to the ground. By unspoken
agreement, the golden-haired elf lord remained with the others to
protect the wounded if need be while Elladan and Elrohir proceeded
Every inch of the courtyard was a familiar haven to the twins, so why
now did the hair on the back of their necks stand on end and their
bodies tingle with unexplainable warnings of doom? There was a
shadow over their home as if the pristine essence of Imladris had
somehow been violated and even the trees and plants quivered with the
They could not yet see the front of the house, shaded from their view
by the artistic arbor pathway, but something on the ground caught their
attention. A dark, crimson stain spread across the glistening
white flagstone path from around the blind corner, a deep red trickle
that could have been only one thing.
Both twins’ hearts jumped up into their throats and lodged there, almost choking them.
Rushing forward with swords drawn they turned the corner, catching the
first glimpse of the main entry to their home... and then froze in
Black and crimson mingled freely on the cobbles before the entry and a
great, hulking orc body lay dead in the partially open doorway.
The creature’s hideous blood was pooled around him on the landing,
draining slowly down the stairs... drip... drip... drip...
Elrohir felt sick. Not here. Not here in his home...
Elladan felt a blinding slash of rage burn through him. What had happened? What had happened here?
From inside the house the sound of a weak, struggling cough shook them from their momentary daze.
The two elves unfroze their feet and hurried on again, stepping over
the hideous orc body with revulsion and noting with sorrow the slain
elf across from him.
Elladan gripped his sword tighter. He and Elrohir exchanged
looks, the fire in Elrohir’s eyes for once nearly matching his
brother’s. Someone was going to pay for this violation of their
The coughing drew them quickly to the Hall of Fire. The great
hearth flickered low, but the light it cast still filled the room,
dancing upon the rows of deathly still elves and rangers.
For half a horrible instant the twins thought they were all dead, but then
they saw the rise and fall of breath leaving the bodies and knew that,
although injured, these beings at least still lived.
Their attention was immediately drawn to the scene in the front of the
room. Moranuen was on his hands and knees. The bandage
around his chest was soaked deep red and he was unnaturally pale.
He knelt next to Celboril’s still body, obviously having dragged
himself there with great effort. He had pressed a wadded corner
of the steward’s robe against the older elf’s bleeding stomach wound,
but the effort had been too much and Mora was doubled over, coughing
helplessly and gasping for air he could not find. One of the
wounded Dunédain who was awake was trying to work around his own
injuries to go to Moranuen’s aid, but was not able to move very fast.
“Mora!” the twins shouted in alarm, almost at the same time. Rushing forward they dropped to the ground next to him.
Elladan gently scooped Moranuen’s heaving frame into his arms, holding
the other dark-haired elf gently and lending him strength. Laying
a hand on Mora’s chest he tried to figure out how to best help ease his
Elrohir took over the pressure on Celboril’s wound that Moranuen had
been struggling to provide. It was a praiseworthy effort, the
younger twin noted as he quickly worked to stabilize the beloved
household overseer. Moranuen’s actions had probably saved
Celboril’s life. Elrohir winced as he got a better look at the
jagged, gaping wound beneath the blood-soaked layers of the older elf’s
clothing. It was not good, but it did not have to be fatal.
Already the younger twin’s hands were in motion as he worked to save
the other elf’s life.
Elladan was doing the same for Moranuen. “Mora, Mora what
happened?” he asked with disbelieving concern as he pulled away the
bandages around the other elf’s chest to reveal the split
stitches. The small length of tubing Elrond had carefully placed
to keep Moranuen’s injured lungs from being pressured into collapsing
had been dislodged.
Moranuen couldn’t speak enough to answer, and Elladan didn’t expect him
to at the moment. The injured human had now made his way over.
“What’s happened here?” Elrohir turned the question on the ranger while
Elladan laid Moranuen down carefully, working with urgent haste to fix
the damage that the orcs’ rough treatment and Moranuen’s own movements
had done to Elrond’s life-saving handiwork.
The man shook his head blankly, frustration and pain in his eyes.
“I-I don’t know... there were orcs... but it’s not clear... I remember
seeing Moranuen, I wanted to help.” The human looked ready to
“Shh, be still, it’s all right, don’t injure yourself any further,”
Elrohir said quickly. Getting to the bottom of these grievous
issues was going to have to wait until Moranuen and Celboril were
stabilized. He didn’t hear or sense any orcs in the house, but
with the chaotic confusion of what was normally such a peaceful place,
it was hard to be sure.
“Ada? Ada!” Elladan called for their father as he worked.
They needed help... where was Elrond? Surely he could not be far;
he would have answers to all these questions. Where was he?
Finally realizing he would not get an answer, Elladan switched names. “Glorfindel!”
The elf in question had heard the earlier commotion and was already on
his way into the room by the time Elladan called. The few
uninjured elves carried their wounded comrades with them. The
Balrog Slayer took one look around and knew that something gravely
wrong had happened here. Although not nearly as severe or
devastating, it brought back memories of the brutal destruction of
Gondolin all over again.
“I will check the house.” The elder warrior left without waiting
for a response, leaving the twins to their vital work and assuming
responsibility for making sure there were no longer any enemies about.
By the time he returned the wounded had all been stabilized and were
resting more or less comfortably, except for Mora who violently refused
to let Elladan give him a sleeping potion to ease his suffering.
“No... must... speak, must... listen to me!” The frustrated elf
struggled with his limited air intake. He wasn’t fully conscious
or lucid, but Elladan was not going to push him, since he very well
could be one of the few people who knew what had happened here right
“Shhh, all right, all right, Mora, but you must be calm. Slowly,
breathe slowly,” Elladan soothed, his hand resting on the injured elf’s
freshly re-bandaged chest, willing it to rise and fall steadily.
Elrohir looked up from where he was assisting another warrior with one
of the last wounded elves they had brought back with them.
Celboril had been cared for, although he was still unconscious and they
had not yet moved him to rest with the others, waiting for more linens
to be brought for bedding. The younger twin looked up when
Glorfindel returned, his eyes questioning.
The elf lord gave his head a shake. “The house is clear, as are
the grounds; whatever ill brood did this is gone. There were only
two casualties. Most of the others seem to have shut themselves
up in the cellars, where the orcs trapped them. I freed the
passage to the cellars and sent them for more supplies to aid you,”
Glorfindel reported quickly, but distractedly. Whom he had not
found was what bothered him.
Elrohir nodded. The servants that Glorfindel spoke of arrived
even before he had finished. Soon, to the twins’ relief, they had
more than enough help to get their wounded comrades comfortably settled
and tended. Elrohir stood and stretched his aching back,
before he stooped to pick up Hadhafang from where it lay on the floor,
not far from Celboril. From the way it looked, he assumed
Celboril had dropped it when he fell, but that didn’t answer the
nagging question in the back of his heart... why did Celboril have it
and where was their father?
With the help of one of the servants, Elrohir prepared to carefully
move Celboril to a more comfortable place with the other convalescents.
“Did you find Father?” Elladan voiced his brother’s thoughts, his eyes
shadowed with worry as he looked up at Glorfindel from Moranuen’s
side. The injured elf had a death-grip on his hand and Elladan
was not about to leave if Mora was unwilling to let him go.
Glorfindel shook his head. “There are signs of fighting
everywhere, but of Lord Elrond...” he did not know, and was hesitant to
“Orcs,” Moranuen rasped softly, squeezing Elladan’s hand and trying to
get his attention. His breathing had finally gotten back under
control and he was more lucid than earlier. However, the elf didn’t have
much strength left in him and what he had was failing fast; he had to
make them listen before unconsciousness claimed him.
“Shhh,” Elladan touched his lips gently, thinking his friend was still
delirious. “I know, Mora, they’re gone now, they’re gone, it is
“No!” Moranuen shook his head emphatically, although the word came out
only as a whisper. “No... not... not all right. L-Lord
Elrond... they took Lord Elrond!”
“What?” Elladan leaned close, his face paling. He hoped he had
heard wrong, or that Moranuen did not know what he was saying.
“Mora, what do you mean?”
“They took Lord Elrond... prisoner. Took him with them... the
orcs.” Moranuen put it as plainly as he could, his laboring breath
breaking his sentences up oddly.
Elrohir gave a small cry. At first Elladan thought it was because
of what Moranuen had just said, but a moment later he knew that was
only partially true.
When the younger twin had lifted Celboril, something had fallen out of the
steward’s clothing. After laying Celboril down on the pallet
prepared for him, Elrohir had gone back to see what it was. This he
discovered at the same time that Moranuen’s horrible news came out.
“Elladan,” Elrohir hurried to his brother’s side. Unclenching his hand he revealed the object lying on his palm.
Both brothers were pale as death as they stared at the small, blue-gemmed circle in Elrohir’s trembling hand.
“Vilya...” Elladan could barely gasp the word out. It seemed as
if all the air had left his lungs, leaving him suffocating more surely
than even the iron grip of a hill troll, a comparison he was qualified
Elrohir’s eyes were written with deep, uncomprehending shock. He
had never seen the powerful Ring of Air off his father’s hand,
never. There was no way he would have allowed it to be taken from
him unless it was removed from his dead body.
“He was alive... Mora, was he alive when they took him?” Elrohir’s
voice was strained. He closed Vilya in his palm again, the smooth
edges of the ring digging painfully into his flesh as he clenched his
“Yes, he, he surrendered to... save us, I’m so sorry, so sorry, he
should not have, I am sorry...” Moranuen murmured over and over, still
grief-stricken and guilty at having been helpless to act as he was
forced to watch his Lord taken away.
“It’s not your fault, Mora,” Elrohir said quietly, still unable to
completely shake the shock and disbelief that lent an air of surrealism
to this devastating news. “Father did what he thought was right.”
Elladan was having a little less trouble grasping exactly what all this
meant, and his heart withdrew from the stabbing pain that that
understanding gave him.
There was only one reason Elrond would have willingly abandoned Vilya,
and that was if his father were convinced that he was not going to come
back from whatever he was going into. Some said that was why
Vilya had passed to Elrond in the first place. That Gil-galad had
had a portent of his own imminent doom before that final battle in
Dagorlad, and had the foresight to entrust the powerful ring to the
younger elf whom had become close as a son to him. Whether that
was true or not, Elrond’s abandonment of the ring in this case could
mean nothing else. The far-sighted elf lord anticipated his own
death and that thought shook Elladan to the core of his being.
Moranuen was still speaking. “They said to tell... they said...”
his difficulty in repeating the lead orc’s message was not due entirely
to his injuries. “They meant to take him to... to Daradwayn, like
your mother,” he whispered softly, pressing his eyes shut against the
horrified pain that immediately flashed across his friends’ faces at
his words. “They said... it was a message. A message for Dehlfalhen and Glamferaen.”
Elladan couldn’t think around the rushing pounding that filled his head
as his vision darkened with the heavy load of the crushing rage and
fear that pressed down upon him. No, not again... not again...
Elrohir’s stricken face hardened into chiseled stone. “This
cannot be allowed to happen. They have gone too far.” His
voice was quiet but lethal.
Elladan squeezed Moranuen’s hand one more time, rising quickly to his
feet by his brother and exchanging looks with his twin. A fire of
loss burned behind their eyes that would not be denied.
Elrohir took a deep breath. “They want Dehlfalhen and Glamferaen? That can be arranged.”
“No...” Moranuen shook his head, his heart aching. He knew the
history of pain that this whole situation was dredging up. “El...
you cannot. Dehlfalhen and Glamferaen are dead. You know
that better than any. Let the dead rest in peace.”
Elladan smiled slightly, but without any true mirth. “No, they
aren’t.” His voice was clipped. “They’re very much alive
and I know exactly where to find them.”
The twins turned to the door but stopped when they found themselves
nearly up against Glorfindel whom they had forgotten about. The
elf lord did not try to dissuade them from their chosen course of
action. The twins were not children and he had no right to govern
their deeds; besides, any such attempt would be useless at this
“You will take no one with you on this path you are choosing?” The question was quiet, but somber.
Elrohir shook his head once. “Everyone here is needed.
There are no guarantees that this is not simply another trap, as every
move of our enemies has been thus far. We dare not leave
Rivendell open to further attack by drawing away what defenses we have
left in place. Besides... if we are to wake Glamferaen and
Dehlfalhen... it is better us two go alone.”
Elladan carefully took Vilya from his brother’s hand and pressed it
into the palm of the golden-haired elf lord. “Watch over
Rivendell. Watch over our people until we return and guard this
with your life, as I know you will. If we return we will be
bringing our father back with us... if we do not... it will only be
because none of us return. In that case you must take Vilya to
Lothlórien and see that it is given to the Lady Galadriel.
Do you accept this charge?”
Glorfindel nodded. At moments like these it was very clear that
for all their usual youthful energy and playfulness, Elladan and
Elrohir were every inch the Lords of Rivendell that their heritage made
“I do accept, I will watch over them until you return, all of
you. May the Valar watch over all your paths, no matter how dark
The twins accepted the gracious words of parting, but their minds and
hearts were already a hundred miles away, treading the path that was
swiftly opening up before their feet to swallow them. Their
responsibility to Rivendell duly taken care of, the pair hurried for
the door. They had already lost precious time, they could afford
to waste no more. Both of them wished that Aragorn and Legolas
were here, but perhaps it was just as well that they were not,
considering what might lie ahead.
Closure is closer
Take this out of me,
Take anything you need.
I'll still breathe; I'll still breathe.
Fading thinner but still it's haunting me
Can't find the words to say to the angels
That took you from me...
Elrond’s breath frosted sharply on the biting air as he leaned against
the rock wall behind him. He couldn’t feel his hands anymore and
his healer’s mind dully told him that a prolonged loss of circulation
to those areas could cause permanent damage after a while... however he
doubted the orcs intended to let him live long enough for that to
become a problem.
A sharp, vicious blow made the elf lord wince and double forward.
Staked out as he was he could not move away from the abuse and would
not cower in front of his tormentors anyway. Another sharp kick
in the ribs and Elrond had to steel himself against a searing flash of
pain that suggested something that had already been broken was being
The orcs were paying him only passing attention right now and he knew
it. He had suffered the full brunt of their interest earlier,
when they had first stopped for a small respite in their hasty retreat
The orcs had moved swiftly and they were high up in the mountains now
where the days were still warm, but the nights became desolate and
biting. The orcs would rest only a short time before pressing on
again towards their destination and Elrond wasn’t sure if he should be
glad of the reprieve or not.
Guruth was shouting angrily at some new group of orcs that had just
joined them. Elrond watched with dull disinterest.
“You idiots! You withdrew too soon!” Guruth yelled angrily at the
underlings standing before him. “We almost got caught down there
in the valley!”
The orcs in question growled something about thinking they had received
the signal, which resulted in a lot more shouting. Presently
Guruth pulled his sword and beheaded two of them.
Tmarkz was glad that he was not the one who had ordered the retreat,
having been busy chasing the ranger and the golden-haired elf at the
time. However, given his leader’s current mood, he wasn’t about
to tell about the failure of that little venture right now.
Sullen silence fell over the rest of the group, but no one challenged the old, scarred orc.
Elrond noted numbly that Guruth must hold a position of fear and
respect among the other orcs because they let everything die down after
that. Pity, would have been much better if they all decided to
slaughter each other right now.
“Enjoy your rest while you can, elf!” Guruth stooped suddenly next to
the healer, grabbing Elrond’s long, brown hair and banging his head back
sharply against the wall. “More fun later.” Dropping Elrond’s head again he stalked away.
The freezing air made the elf’s bruised and aching lungs contract
painfully with each breath. A slight shudder ran through his
body. It was all so strange... he had never felt cold like this
He closed his weary eyes looking for strength, but what he saw was her
face. Those deep, deep, blue eyes, framed by the wispy strands of
gold that always inevitably worked their way free to hang about her
face... they danced when she laughed. He remembered that.
Remembered it so clearly it hurt.
“You’re so serious, melethron... smile for me...” Celebrían’s teasing face swirled its way from the deep recesses of his heart, hovering before him.
Elrond did smile. He always smiled for her. “I am weary, melethril,”
he whispered to the growing darkness. He knew she wasn’t real, he
knew he was starting to hallucinate, which meant he was probably sliding
into shock... but those were things his head
knew. Right now he’d rather listen to his heart. “I think I
will be seeing you again sooner than we thought, dear one...”
Aragorn had lost all track of time. There was nowhere to
stop, nowhere to rest. Water and darkness stretched out to a
monotonous, uncomfortable eternity. His body told him he had
already missed more than one night’s rest, perhaps a lot more, he had
no way of knowing any longer. It grew increasingly difficult to
put one foot in front of the other as he battled the current that
always wanted to sweep him away. The water was chest high now and
freezing cold. The current had picked up again although the two
friends were battling its pull. He feared that perhaps this had
not been a good idea after all... how far did these tunnels go?
Would there ever be a way out?
Behind him in the darkness, Legolas was singing softly. He had
been for the last few hours. It comforted Aragorn to hear as much
as it comforted Legolas to sing. The elf was doing very well for
being in a cave under these circumstances and Aragorn was glad.
The ranger stumbled. He was so cold, so tired... the current
tugged his feet out from under him and he felt the icy slap of the
water closing over his head.
Strong, firm hands on his shoulders checked his forward rush and
Legolas dragged his friend quickly back to the surface. The elf
braced his feet against the jagged, but slippery floor of the
subterranean aqueduct and hugged the human against him until Aragorn
got his feet underneath him once more. The elf ignored the
searing ache in his leg where the arrow had cut him. It hurt more
than he was willing to admit, but he was more worried about his friend.
Legolas frowned. Aragorn’s body was too cold in his arms as the
chilly water continued to sap the Dùnadan’s strength. The
man was having a hard time getting back on his feet as he clumsily
stood up with the prince’s help.
“Are you all right?” the elf murmured quietly, not releasing the ranger just yet.
Aragorn shivered, but nodded with a thin smile. “Just a little tired.”
Legolas was still concerned. They had been walking for a long
time, at least two days, perhaps more. The elf would have no
trouble pressing on for as long as it took to get them out of this
hole, but he knew the limitations of his human friend, whether Aragorn
wanted to admit them or not.
“Come.” Legolas hooked Aragorn’s sodden coat in his fingers and guided
the ranger back the way they had come a small distance. Battling
the current rather than walking with it was a little difficult, but
“What? Where are we going, Legolas?” Aragorn protested, not
understanding what his friend was thinking. He did not resist,
however, sincehe didn’t really have the strength to resist.
Presently they returned to a place where the water was shallower, only up to their thighs.
Pressing Aragorn up against the wall so that his back was to the
tunnel, and his front was held firmly against Legolas’ body, the elf
effectively supported the tired human’s weight as the dark water
swirled about their legs.
Aragorn felt the welcome warmth of Legolas’ body heat sap some of the
numbing chill from his weary limbs as the elf held him securely.
He couldn’t help shivering now and was glad for the small respite.
Legolas tipped the ranger’s head forward a little so that it could rest
on the elf’s shoulder, smiling softly at Aragorn’s puzzled, questioning
“Rest, mellon-nín, sleep if you can. I will not let you
fall,” the prince assured quietly. There was nowhere that Aragorn
could possibly lie down to rest without being covered in water, so the
elf presented the only other solution he could contrive.
Aragorn appreciated the offer but he hated to put the elf out this way
or drain his friend’s strength when they were already in a place that
he knew weakened the wood-elf. “Legolas, you can’t just stand
there and hold me...”
“Why not?” Legolas cocked an eyebrow. “You always forget I don’t
need as much rest as you, human,” he teased lightly. “I
just want to get out of here as soon as possible, but if you drown or I
have to rescue you that will slow us considerably, agreed? So
rest now and regain your strength. We will move faster when you
Aragorn wanted to protest, but he really was drained. Whether it
was because his own body was shutting down or the result of a suggestive
command that the wood-elf had learned from Lord Elrond, the ranger
found himself sliding swiftly towards the even darker blackness of
Legolas felt Aragorn’s body relax in his arms and settled the human
more comfortably against him, perfectly prepared to hold him safe from
the current and cold until Aragorn’s body had sufficiently replenished
its energy stores.
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