Memory of Darkness

Chapter 5: Night Draws Near

by Jay of Lasgalen

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Still waiting anxiously by the cave mouth, Elrohir heard the faint sound of many feet approaching through the tunnels, and saw a growing light below.  Arwen’s voice rang out in joy and relief.  “Ada!”

“Father’s there, and Thranduil.  It should be all right now,” he relayed to the warriors who had come back with Elladan.  He turned to his twin.  “I’m glad you’re back, El.  I felt so helpless, stuck up here and not being able to do anything!  Arwen had to do everything, and I couldn’t lift a finger to help her, or Legolas.”

Elladan smiled consolingly.  “Don’t worry.  I expect she felt better just knowing you were here.”

“Maybe.  I just wish I could have done more.  But I’m glad to see you – I was beginning to get worried.  Arwen thought you’d met a spider.”

Elladan shook his head ruefully.  “Not a spider, no.  Something worse.”

Worse?  El, are you all right?”  Elrohir looked at his brother anxiously, but he appeared unscathed.  “What happened?”

“I met Lanatus.”  The simple statement conveyed a huge range of meaning.  The warriors surrounding them chuckled, all well aware of the archivist’s morose, pedantic manner. 

Elrohir relaxed, and even smiled.  “Lanatus?  I don’t expect he was much help, was he?”

“Not really.  He had the nerve to accuse us of abandoning Arwen and Legolas deliberately!”  Indignation coloured Elladan’s voice.  He was fiercely protective of his brother and sister, and the implication had infuriated him.  “Oh, that reminds me, I brought this for you.”  With a flourish, Elladan produced a boot from the pack at his feet.  “I remembered that you dropped yours down to Arwen.  You won’t want to walk back to Lasgalen with one foot bare.”

Elrohir took it, rather bemused.  “Where in all of Arda did you manage to find one boot?”

Elladan looked – shifty was the only word to describe his expression.  “There was a pair just outside Lanatus’s door.  You know how he never wears outdoor boots in his own quarters.  So I took one.”

“You stole Lanatus’s boots?”

“Only one! And I didn’t steal it,  I borrowed it.  There’s a difference.”

“There is?”  Elrohir sat on the snowy ground and pulled the boot onto his foot.  He sighed.  “It’s the wrong one, you idiot!  If you’re going to steal – pardon me, borrow – a boot, you could at least get the right one!   Anyway, why didn’t you take them both?”

Elladan shrugged.  “You know how fastidious he is.  How everything has to just so; in precisely the right place.  Can you imagine how furious he’ll be when he can only find one boot?”

There was another laugh from one of the guards standing by the cave mouth, listening.   It seemed there was little sympathy for Lanatus.  His dismal attitude and intolerance for anything that deviated from his own narrow world had not made him popular. 

“Elladan, you’re impossible!”  Elrohir stood, and looked down at his ill-matched footwear.  “I look ridiculous.”

Elladan grinned maliciously.  “But it’s better than nothing, little brother.  And I always said that you dance as if you had two left feet!”

The guard spoke up.   “My lords, your father says we will not be needed here.  We are to return to Lasgalen.”

“Good.”  Elrohir glanced back at the cave entrance, then ahead in the direction of Lasgalen.    “I want to see Legolas.  And Arwen.  Come on, El.  Let’s hope Lanatus doesn’t catch you!”

They set off, as Elladan muttered something under his breath.  “Catch me, little brother?  I’m not the one wearing his boot!”

Turning, Elrohir glared at his twin with exasperation.  Elladan had an odd way of dealing with his anxieties.  He hid his deep concern under a mask of frivolity and jokes.  To outsiders, it could lead to the impression that he did not care – and few realised just how wrong that impression was.  Elrohir could tell that beneath the light hearted banter, Elladan was desperately worried about both Legolas and Arwen.

He shrugged, then winced with pain.  Now that he knew Legolas and Arwen were being cared for, he had time to notice the growing pain in his shoulder, wrenched when Elladan had saved him from falling.  It was difficult to move his arm, and his hand and fingers were growing numb.  Surreptitiously he prodded his shoulder, then dropped his hand to support his elbow unobtrusively.  It hurt.  A lot.  Although it would not help anything to admit that just yet, Elrohir knew it would require some rather unpleasant treatment.

Elladan noticed his pallor.  “El?  Are you all right?”

Elrohir nodded tersely.  “Fine,” he said tightly.  “Come on, let’s get back.”

The group made their way swiftly back to the palace, the guards from Lasgalen easily able to move through the forest, although the heavy snow had obliterated all landmarks.  Elrohir was surprised to find just how close they were to Lasgalen – their explorations of the tunnels had led them for miles through the maze of passages, and he had completely lost his sense of direction.  

In a very short space of time, they were crossing the bridge.   Although the doors had been closed again against the storm, someone had been watching for them, for the doors swung open as they approached.

Elladan and Elrohir were directed to the infirmary to alert Calmacil’s staff and report the instructions that he and Elrond had relayed.   Celebrían and Mireth were already overseeing the preparation of Legolas’s rooms – it had been decided that he would have a little more privacy and comfort during the long weeks of convalescence there, rather than in the infirmary.   Finally finished, the twins returned to the hallways, hovering anxiously by the tunnel that lead down into the caves.  After what seemed like an endless wait, the rescue group finally appeared. 

They negotiated the narrow passages with great care, mindful of their precious burden.  Elrohir, although he had known something of what to expect from Arwen’s comments, was shocked, and he heard Elladan gasp beside him.  Legolas looked dreadful.  He was more than pale, and his skin, even in the flickering torchlight, had a greyish tone.  One side of his face was caked with blood from a deep gash, and his hair was matted, filmed with blood and dust.  His leggings – what remained of them – were soaked with blood, and had been cut away to expose his splinted, bandaged leg.  Thranduil, although uninjured, looked little better, pacing beside his son, clasping Legolas’s hand tightly.  Elrond and Arwen brought up the rear of the group.  As they finally emerged, Arwen caught sight of her brothers, and darted across the hall, hugging them both tightly.

“El, I’m so glad to see you!” she declared.  This time, it seemed, ‘El’ meant both of them.

“And you, Arwen,” Elladan told her, returning the embrace.  “Are you all right?  Are you sure?”  He held her at arm’s length, and studied her carefully.  She, too, was covered in dust, her hands scratched and filthy, with  very faint traces of tear marks in the dirt on her face. “El told me how brave you were.” 

She shook her head.  “I wasn’t, not really.  I was so scared.  I thought – ”  she glanced around, but the stretcher party, accompanied by Thranduil, Calmacil and Elrond, had disappeared towards the infirmary.  “I thought he was going to die,” she whispered.  “There was so much blood, and he kept – drifting away.  I was so glad you were there, El,” she added, transferring her attention to Elrohir.  “You told me what to do, and helped me to be brave.”  She hugged him again, even more tightly.

Neither his brother or sister missed Elrohir’s stifled gasp.  “El?  There is something wrong, I knew it!  What is it?”  Elladan insisted.

“My shoulder is dislocated,” Elrohir told them faintly.  The blast of pain that engulfed his whole arm and shoulder had left him feeling light-headed.

“Why didn’t you say anything?” Elladan asked furiously.  “Oh, El, I’m sorry, I know it was when I caught you.  I never meant to hurt you!”

Elrohir pushed him away.  “It’s not your fault,” he managed, cradling his arm again.  However he did not protest as Elladan seized his other arm and pulled him towards their quarters, as Arwen trailed behind.

“Come on.  Father needs to see you, now!  And if he can’t, we find one of the other healers.”  Elladan spoke firmly, and Elrohir meekly allowed himself to be hauled up the stairs.  Sometimes when Elladan assumed total control of a situation, Elrohir rebelled furiously.  At other times he fell in with the plans without a word of complaint.  This was one of those other times.

They met Elrond and Celebrían as they were leaving Legolas’s rooms.  Elrond looked weary and deeply concerned, but his face lightened as he saw all three of his children, alive and whole.  His gaze sharpened as his healer’s eye caught Elrohir’s odd stance, the way he supported his left arm.  “Elrohir?” he questioned.

“His shoulder’s dislocated, father, and he needs you to set it,” Elladan explained.

“El, I can speak for myself!”  Elrohir protested hotly.

Elrond stared at his sons, and they fell silent.  At his side, Arwen was tightly wrapped in Celebrían’s embrace.  Her mother soothed her, whispering soft words of reassurance as Arwen finally succumbed to her pain, worry and fright, and sobbed quietly in her arms.

“You go with Elrohir,” Celebrían said to her husband.  “I can look after Arwen.”  Still murmuring gently, she led Arwen back to their rooms.

“Come, then.  Let me look at your shoulder.”  In the room the twins shared, Elrond directed Elrohir to sit on his bed.  “Take off your tunic so I can see,” he instructed.

Elrohir tried, but was unable to raise his arm.  “I can’t.  I can’t move my arm, it hurts too much,” he admitted.

“Never mind.”  Elrond took a small, sharp knife, and deftly slit the tunic from hem to neck at the front and back, then peeled both halves away.  He looked closely at Elrohir’s shoulder, then placed one hand on it.  Elrohir felt a familiar warm tingle at his father’s touch, and the pain in his shoulder eased a little.  But when Elrond moved his arm a little, Elrohir again tensed and flinched slightly.  “Tell me what happened, and exactly how that feels,” Elrond told him.

Elrohir had spent enough time at his father’s side, learning about healing, to know that pretending helped no one.  “It was when I fell.  I thought that was it, but somehow Elladan managed to throw himself forward and catch my wrist.  The sudden jolt did something to my shoulder.  It didn’t seem too bad at first, or at least I didn’t notice it, but the pain has grown worse.  My fingers feel numb, and it’s difficult to move them.  And it’s not your fault, El, so stop that!  If you hadn’t done what you did, I think I’d be dead.”

Elrond sighed.  “It is as I feared.  It has been too long since you did this, and the muscles have become stiff, especially with the cold.  I cannot do this with you awake, you are too tense.” 

Elrohir nodded reluctantly as Elrond mixed some powders into a cup of water, and gave it to him to drink.  He drank the concoction quickly, grimacing at the taste.  He leaned back against the pillow, waiting for the drug to take effect.  “Father?  How is Legolas?  How seriously was he hurt?”

“Seriously enough.  His leg is very badly broken, and he was trapped for a long time.  The next few days will be hard for him – and for Thranduil.  But he is in good hands with Calmacil.”

Elrohir’s eyes were beginning to glaze from the swift-acting peles, and he yawned.  “I hate peles,” he mumbled.  “It always makes me feel so – so …”  his eyes fluttered closed, and his head drooped sideways to rest against Elladan.

“So what, little brother?”  Elladan asked softly.  He looked up.  “Father, are you ready?”

Elrond nodded.  “Yes.  Would you go to the infirmary and borrow one of Calmacil’s staff?  I will need another pair of hands.”

“Let me do it.  You just need someone to hold him, don’t you?  Then let me.  Calmacil’s staff will have their hands full tonight.”  He sat behind his brother, wrapping one arm around his waist, and placing the other on Elrohir’s chest to hold him steady.  Elrond lifted his arm, pulling and twisting it slightly.  Even unconscious, Elrohir moaned slightly as his arm was moved.  Elladan swallowed, and tightened his grip.  “Ssh, little brother,” he murmured.  “You know we will not harm you.”

At last, with a final manipulation, Elrond felt the shoulder joint relocate, and he smiled with satisfaction.  “Good,” he whispered.  He smoothed Elrohir’s dark hair, and tied a sling to support his injured arm.  “Thank you, Elladan.  I expect he will sleep through the night now.  If he does wake, tell him to stay in bed until I return.  The medicines I used will make him feel a little shaky if he tries to stand.”  He stood and stretched, sighing with weariness.  “I need to see Arwen, then I need to sleep.  And in the morning,  I will see how Legolas is.  Goodnight.”

Placing a light blanket over his son, he glanced down at Elrohir’s feet.  “Elladan, why is your brother wearing odd boots?”

Elladan gave a tired grin.  “It’s a long story.  I’ll tell you in the morning.  Goodnight.”

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