When they reached the infirmary, Elrond went to one of the small rooms that adjoined it, gently placing Elladan on the bed. He began to examine his son carefully, questioning Elrohir about how Elladan had been affected, as he attempted to assess the spread of the poison. His face grew grave as Elrohir described the initial numbness and paralysis, then the increasing agony Elladan had endured. “Father, he was nearly crying with pain,” Elrohir finished. “In the end I gave him the last of the peles leaves we had, but it had no effect.”
Elladan gave a fain moan as his father lifted his arm, turning it slightly. Even unconscious, he tried to pull away from the contact, and Elrond stopped. “This reminds me of something,” he mused. “Something I read about long ago.” He closed his eyes, trying to remember. “A scroll,” he recalled. “A scroll about the creatures of Harad. Something about a spider … Elrohir, would you go and look in the library? You will probably be able to find it more quickly than anyone else.”
Reluctantly, Elrohir nodded. With a last long look at his brother, he turned and hurried from the room, running down the stairs two at a time. In Elrond’s library, he carefully lit a lamp, casting a warm glow over the shelves and cupboards that covered every wall from floor to ceiling. Then he began searching through the scrolls that filled two rows of shelving. They were carefully organised; he had helped to catalogue them himself, and he thought he knew the scroll his father was referring to. Locating the section that contained works about distant lands, he pulled out an armload and carried them across to the heavy wooden table that stood in the centre of the floor. Instinctively handling the manuscripts – some of which were ancient – with great care, he opened one after the other, skimming the contents before carefully rolling the document again and moving on. His first search proved fruitless, and muttering in exasperation, he returned all the scrolls to their shelf, and tried again.
This time he struck lucky. The second scroll he opened was entitled ‘Mythical and Mystical Beasts of Near and Far Harad’ and was illustrated with delicate pictures of creatures such as unicorns, griffons and mumakil. The mumak, he was fairly sure, did in fact exist, but he believed the others were indeed imaginary. The third scroll was the one he was searching for. ‘Venomous and Malevolent Flora and Fauna in the Lands of the Haradrim and the Treatment Thereof.’ The treatment thereof. Could there be a clue in here to help Elladan? Hastily replacing everything, he extinguished the lamp, and returned to the infirmary, taking the scroll with him.
As Elrohir departed, Elrond turned back to Elladan. He twisted and turned restlessly, and Elrond knew he would have to send him into a deeper sleep to be able to do what he knew would be necessary. He lifted his son slightly, touching his face and calling to him. “Elladan? Elladan, awake now. Just for a moment, then you can sleep again without pain. Wake up now.”
Slowly, Elladan returned to a greater consciousness, aware of the excruciating pain in his arm and hand, and a familiar, beloved voice calling him. He tried desperately to concentrate on the voice alone, and to drown out all other sensations. “Father?”
“Yes. Wake now. I want you to drink this.”
Slowly Elladan opened his eyes, and tried to focus on the blur looming above him. Gradually he was able to distinguish a face, one that matched the voice. His father was gazing at him in concern. “Elladan, drink this. It will help the pain.” A small bottle was held to his mouth, and he swallowed obediently, grimacing at the sickly sweet taste.
“Father, my arm hurts.”
“I know. But this will help.” He could hear love and concern in Elrond’s voice, and something else. Fear? Of what?
Elladan swallowed the last of the medicine. “Poppy?” It was one of the most powerful drugs used in the infirmary, and worked almost immediately.
“Aye, just a little.”
Elladan shifted his gaze from his father, his eyes sliding around the room. His mother sat on the other side of the bed, and he smiled at her, moving his right hand towards her slightly. He could see Legolas near the window, and whispered his name. Then he looked again. His father. His mother. Legolas.
There was one face missing. Fighting the seductive lure of the poppy, he tried to turn his head to see further. “Where …” he began. Against his will, his eyes were closing, and his voice faded.
“Hush. You are safe now, at Imladris. In the infirmary. You are home now.”
Frustrated, he shook his head. That was not what he had meant. But it was too late now, and he only had time to acknowledge the cessation of pain before he began to sink into darkness and oblivion claimed him. But the question he had not been able to ask remained in his mind, filling his dreams. Where was Elrohir?
Desperately, he tried to recall what had happened, how he came to be in the infirmary. His own pain, the grim and grave expressions all around him told their own story, and he knew he must have been very seriously wounded. But how? He tried to piece together what he did know. That overriding question - where was Elrohir - was what had driven him from Imladris, and Legolas had gone with him. They were clearly back there now, but what had happened in between? Why could he not remember?
His head swam with a swirling kaleidoscope of images and memories, but they made no sense. There was a man, pointing a crossbow at him. There was a village, silent and deserted, and a house where all the people were dead. He and Legolas picked their way along a riverbank slick with mud, and with a cry of fear Legolas plunged into the raging water. There was a young girl, running to greet him, calling to him. Calling him … calling him Elrohir. Did she hold the secret to his brother’s disappearance? Who was she? He tried to put a name to her. Marla? Somehow it did not seem right. The whirl of pictures continued to dance through his memory. He could see Legolas’ face across a camp fire. It was so vivid he could taste and smell roasted rabbit. He saw again the man with the crossbow, and saw how his hands shook with fear. The little girl was there again, this time seated on the lap of an older woman. Her mother?
Desperately, he tried to push his recollections onward. What had happened after that? Why could he not remember? A new memory came to him, dusk, a large town, its gates about to close for the night. A guard, looking wary and suspicious. He saw a long room, another man approaching him from the far end, his face full of sympathy. He extended his hand, and dropped something into Elladan’s palm. Mesmerised, Elladan stared at it uncomprehendingly, his eyes tracing the patterns and writing, the insignia. As if from a great distance, he heard the man’s voice again. ‘He carried this. He had been dead for several days.’
The twisting vortex of images suddenly stopped. No. That could not be right. The man spoke again. ‘He had been dead for several days.’ No. Not Elrohir. It was impossible.
But was it impossible? It explained everything. It explained why both his parents were at his bedside. It explained why Legolas was there, looking so concerned. It explained the fear and grief he had heard in his father’s voice.
It explained why Elrohir was not there.
The memories were true, all of them, he could feel it. And that meant that Elrohir was dead.
He caught his breath, desperately trying to deny what he now knew to be true. Elrohir was dead. A scream built up in his chest, a cry of utter desolation, grief and horror, and exploded from him before he plunged into an abyss of blackness and despair. “ELROHIR! No!”
The three in the room were catapulted to their feet in shock. As Elrohir re-entered the room, he halted at the sound of that desperate cry, and by the sight of his brother twisting desperately in anguish, frantic to escape from some horror. Swiftly crossing the room, he suddenly stopped, caught by the strangest sensation that he had seen this before, had done this before. It was nonsense, he knew that. Never in his life had he seen Elladan so distraught, and never had he heard his own name called out in such terror. Regaining his equilibrium, he reached the bed, and sat on the edge, passing the scroll blindly to his father.
“El? What is it?” He placed both hands on his brother’s face, calling to him. “What happened?” he asked tersely.
Elrond shook his head. “I do not know,” he admitted. “He regained consciousness for a moment, and seemed to know where he was. At least, I thought he did. He recognised me, your mother, and Legolas. I was able to give him some of the poppy juice. Then he seemed to be searching for something. The poppy took effect before I could ask him what it was he was looking for. He was a little restless for a while. Then – then this happened.” He seemed shaken by his son’s reaction.
Between them, Elladan tossed and turned, moaning slightly. A cry escaped from him, an incoherent groan, full of despair, in which occasional words could be distinguished. “El – oh, no, El – please, no! El, where are you? It cannot be true. EL!” Elrohir took Elladan’s right hand between his, and began to murmur to him softly and reassuringly, but Elladan’s desperate cries continued.
At the window, Legolas turned suddenly, looking at Elladan as if he had never seen him before. “I know what this is,” he said suddenly. “Elladan foresaw this, in one of his visions.”
Both Elrond and Elrohir looked up at him, startled. “What do you mean, he foresaw it?” asked Elrohir. “What visions?”
Briefly, as rapidly as possible, Legolas tried to explain. “When we were travelling together, Elladan kept having recurring nightmares and waking dreams. He dreamed of your death, Elrohir, that you were deathly ill. And I dismissed it, all of it, taking it as his natural concern! Then, when we found you at Barlynch, it was exactly as he had foreseen. He told me as well that he had seen you, like this, here, crying for him. He thought it foretold his death, but feared only what it would do to you. And that is why he has been so withdrawn and distant. He did not want you to fear for him!” Legolas paused, looking down at his friend sadly. “He was wrong. It was never you he saw, Elrohir, it was himself.”
Elrohir did not take his eyes from his twin, and brushed a strand of damp hair away from his face with a hand that shook a little. “El, do not fear. I am here,” he whispered. This explained much of Elladan’s odd behaviour.
But for Elrond, there was still one thing he could not understand. “What, though, does he still fear? Why does he cry out for you, Elrohir? Why does he feel such desperate sorrow?”
Elrohir looked up at his parents, although he did not release Elladan’s hand. “Because when El and Legolas first got to Tarlong, and were told that an elf had been found dead, they were told it was me. El thought I was dead.”
At the window, Legolas nodded his sober agreement. “Elladan was devastated. We both were, but Elladan … And then, later, we realised that there was some doubt. Elladan had to question the guards to try to establish who it was they had found.”
Celebrían had not spoken so far. Now she looked down at both her sons, placing her hands on their heads, gently stroking their hair. “So if Elladan is reliving that moment – Elrohir, you have to tell him!”
Elladan continued to thrash wildly. A tear ran from one eye and he called again to his twin, lost in a nightmare of memories.Stories > First > Previous > Next