Mellon Chronicles

Mistaken Identity

Part 1

by Cassia-(T) and Siobhan-(T)

"Mistaken Identity". Artist: Cassia

"Mistaken Identity" art by Cassia-(T)

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    A soft continuous knocking on the large wooden doors alerted Elrond, Lord of Rivendell, that someone was on the threshold of his house. He quickly crossed to the entryway and opened the door.
    A dark-haired elf stood in the doorway leaning heavily on the frame. He fell forward as the doors opened and Elrond caught the elf, bracing him against himself.
    Elrond recognized the elf that he held as one of his own, a friend of his sons who had lived in Rivendell since he was born. "Moranuen?"
    "Lord... Elrond..." Moranuen spoke haltingly, his message cut off as he passed out.
    The elf had been badly beaten and his clothing was torn and stained with his own blood. As he lost consciousness a piece of wadded-up paper fell from his hand settling onto the landing. Elrond glanced back into the house and called for his help, "Celboril!"
    The urgency in the elf lord’s voice brought several servants running to his aid. Gently they eased the elf away from Elrond and took him to a guestroom at their master’s bidding.
    When they had left the entryway, Elrond stooped down and retrieved the paper Moranuen had dropped. He smoothed out the wrinkles and quickly scanned the contents. The page held a crudely drawn portrait of an elf with the words "reward, dead or alive" stenciled in block lettering on bottom – ‘wanted for the murder of five men in the eastern range' completed the explanation. The elf that stared back at him from the paper held no resemblance to the dark-haired elf that had returned to him from the errand he had sent him on and anger burned within the elven lord at his servant’s mistreatment.
    His own sons had left early before sunrise to go hunting and so he had sent Moranuen to the town of Strayton to inquire about a letter that had been received that morning in his household. The very manner in which it had been delivered had bothered him greatly and he should have been more wary. Driven into the wooden gate near the road down to Rivendell was a knife with a threat scratched on a piece of paper that read:

"Elves beware. If you murder any more of my men we will retaliate. Stay in your valley if you want to be safe."

    The elf lord knew that there were bands of men that roamed the ranges of the mountains that bracketed Rivendell on either side, but they had lived in peace for a very long time. It was true that there were more men moving into the surrounding areas of late, but the hills were rich with game and there was enough for everyone. This turn of events was unexpected and it bode ill for the elves in his realm. Thinking to discover what the source of the men’s complaint was, he had asked Moranuen to inquire about it and return with information. He had no desire for confrontation with the humans and intended to work with the men of Strayton to solve whatever was going on, but it did not appear that the sentiment was returned.
    He moved quickly through the halls of his home until he reached the room that Moranuen had been removed to. His servants scattered out of the way as he approached the bed the elf had been laid on. Gently he moved the long strands of dark hair away from the bruised face.
    "How is he?" Elrond glanced quickly at Celboril.
    "Not good, my lord." The elf moved nearer his liege and touched the injured elf’s face carefully. "He has several broken ribs and his left arm is fractured. I’d be surprised if he didn’t have a concussion. I don’t know what they did to him, but they were cruel." Gently he picked up one of the elf’s hands and turned it palm up in his own, displaying bloody rope burns on Moranuen’s wrists. "I can't imagine what he would have done that could make anyone treat him thus."
    In answer to his question Elrond handed Celboril the paper that Moranuen had dropped; he was sickened by the treatment of the young elf and trying to contain his anger.
    "My lord!" The servant glanced up in surprise, "No elf in Rivendell would kill any man!"
    Nodding his head slowly he answered the other, "I know. Nor would they provoke an attack such as this." He glanced darkly at the wounded elf. "I think we may have a problem on our hands. But we need more information."
    "If they wouldn’t talk to Moranuen..." Celboril left the statement open.
    "I know, they will not talk to any of us. And I will not suffer anyone else to be treated this way." He looked back at his attendant. "Find Moranuen’s family, ask them to come and stay here while he heals. Clean him up and I will return to see what can be done for him. I want to see that arm set quickly as soon as the swelling goes down. If he should wake, tell me immediately."
    "Yes, my lord." Celboril stopped Elrond before he had left the room. "Where will I find you, my lord?"
    Elrond didn’t turn back when he answered, he needed to think, he needed to be alone for a bit. "In the common room, Celboril. I will be there by the fire. I have some thinking to do, but I will return shortly." With that explanation he left the room.


    Aragorn stepped lightly into the main room of his father’s house. A fire was burning brightly in the alcove and the rich muted smells of dinner wafted through the warm air under the vaulted beams of Rivendell.
    Elrond was seated before the fireplace, his tall frame wrapped in a large wingback overstuffed chair, his eyes fixed on the dancing weaving flames, allowing himself to be mesmerized by their interaction as his mind was lost deep in thought.
    His meditations were distracted as his youngest son, his human son, entered the room and dropped down onto the veranda next to him. The young man brushed long dark locks of hair from his face and fixed the elf with silver eyes. He didn’t speak, he simply watched his elder, waiting the other out. Growing up in an elven home had shaped the young human differently than he would have grown up had he not lived among a race millennia his senior. He had learned the art of patience and waiting.
    Elrond watched him for a few moments without speaking until the human started to smile at him. Smiling back Elrond nodded at the young man. "How was the hunting, Estel?"
    "Good. We found a small herd not far from here." When his father simply returned to watching the fire the ranger spoke again. "How was your day?"
    Elrond glanced back at the boy and raised an eyebrow curiously. "You never ask how my days go."
    "I never find you just sitting quietly before the fire."
    "And what is so odd about that, young one?" He smiled at the human.
    "Well you just have that same look on your face, like the time you found out that Elrohir had broken his leg when he took that dare from Elladan and tried to jump the falls."
    "Oh yes," Elrond shook his head and chuckled softly. "That was fun. Thank the heavens they have stopped that nonsense."
    Estel glanced quickly down at his hands, his whole demeanor changing slightly as the elderly elf watched him. Elrond’s eyes narrowed as he considered the human, "Estel?"
    "Yes, Father?"
    The act of overstated innocence was not lost on the elf and he leveled the young ranger with a serious glare. "Is there something I should know?" His sons had been known to pull some of the most idiotic stunts. They had a penchant for daring each other.
    Estel fidgeted with the heel of his boot where it lay across his thigh. "No," he answered innocently and then, trying desperately to change the subject he continued, "But you do look like something’s wrong." The man turned serious and leaned forward, "What is it, Father?"
    Smiling slightly and letting the redirection go, Elrond gazed back at the dancing flames and steepled his fingers as he thought through the day’s events. "Very well, it’s probably best I don’t know," he conceded.
    "You couldn’t be more right," Estel whispered to himself, shaking his head and rolling his eyes.
    Elrond had heard the slight comment and had just started to speak when Elladan and Elrohir entered the common room, stopping up short when they saw the serious look on their father's face.
    Elrohir broke the silence first. "You told him didn’t you Estel!"
    "You swore you wouldn’t!" Elladan glared at the man.
    The human stared wide-eyed at his brothers, shaking his head vigorously.
    "Tell me what?" Elrond raised his eyebrow in question of his two sons. Elladan wouldn’t look his father in the eyes and Elrohir suddenly found the carpet very intriguing.
    "I think I hear Celboril, I better go see what’s up he might need help in the kitchen." Elrohir tried unsuccessfully to exit the room, but his brother grabbed the back of his tunic, stopping his forward motion as his father rose from his seat.
    "Estel told me nothing of what the three of you were up to today," Elrond rounded his chair as he spoke, "and I am not sure that I want to hear it anyway." He motioned to the couch where Aragorn sat quietly. "Sit. I have something of importance that I need to discuss with the three of you."
    The twins immediately obeyed, seating themselves on either side of their human brother. It was rare that their father spoke like this and the sudden seriousness of the situation bore down on them.
    "I was just about to tell Estel what took place here while you were gone hunting this morning." He paced to the front of the room and stood with his back to the brothers, quietly resettling the wood in the fireplace with an iron tool that stood nearby.
    Elladan and Elrohir glanced at the ranger but he shrugged his shoulders, for he had yet to discover what bothered their father. Without turning around Elrond continued, "Moranuen was beaten today when I sent him into Strayton on an errand for me."
    "What!" Aragorn leapt to his feet, "Where is he? Is he all right?"
    Moranuen was the human’s best friend in Rivendell other than the brothers themselves.
    Elrond turned back to his youngest son and reassured him, "He is resting Estel, but I will not lie to you. He is not well. He was badly beaten by the men in the town. He is under our roof and he and his family will stay here until he is well enough to leave. That will not be anytime soon, I am afraid."
    Aragorn tried to step forward, his worry for his friend overriding the conversation, but Elladan grabbed his coattail and pulled the man backwards, tipping him far enough off balance that he fell back onto the couch. Elrohir shifted over against the ranger and, placing his arm on the human’s shoulder, he leaned gently down pinning him in place.
    "I would hear the rest, Father," Elrohir softly spoke as he glanced at his human brother. "It will be all right, Estel."
    "In time, Moranuen will be just fine. You may visit him later, right now there are other matters that must be dealt with first." The elven lord then went on to explain the note posted on the gate of their road and passed the trio the paper that Moranuen had brought back with him.
    "This cannot be allowed to continue, Father. We must find out who this elf is that they claim is killing their men and stop whatever is going on." Elladan handed the wanted sign over to Estel who shared it with Elrohir.
    "You are correct but, as you can see, we can send no more of our people out of this valley without them being in danger. We will have to take a very different route." His eyes lighted on Estel who was frowning down at the picture of the elf on the wanted poster. Elladan and Elrohir exchanged worried looks over their brother’s head before focusing on the human.
    "This looks nothing like Moranuen. In fact this looks nothing like any Noldo elf that I know." He glanced up when no one answered him. Wondering what it was that he had missed, he looked from one serious face of his family to another and quickly rewound the conversation that had just been spoken, running it back through his attentive consciousness.
    As he caught up with the essence of where his father was leading, he nodded slowly in understanding. "I can come and go and not be in danger. I am a man, they will not attack me."
    "Yes, Estel, that is exactly what I was thinking." Elrond paced back to the chair and lowered himself into it, staring intently at the young human.
    "You cannot think to send him alone! Look at what they did to Moranuen. What guarantee do we have that they will not treat anyone who leaves these gates in much the same way?" Elladan voiced his concerns.
    "He is a human, Elladan, so they will not bother him as they would the two of you, and I would know what is going on so that we can bring this to an end. Estel’s childhood here is at an end. Soon everyone will know that a Dùnadan frequents Rivendell even if they do not know his ancestry or his upbringing." He smiled at the man. "His presence here has been a well kept elven secret for many years but that time is over. Still most have not associated Estel with our house and he has the name Legolas gave him as an alias, as well as others. He could easily fit into this group of men and discover the truth about them. It is important to me."
    "I can do this." Aragorn leaned forward eagerly, garnering a smile from his adoptive father.
    "I know you can, my son." Elrond locked eyes with the boy. "I want you to be careful though. These men are not like the Dunèdain, they run on their own set of rules. Otherwise Mora would not have returned as he did. Be wary, be observant, use what you have been taught. See if there is any validity to their accusation that an elf is murdering men in the eastern range. If that proves to be the case then we will need to deal with it. But we will deal with it, and not they."
    "Of course, Father. I will leave tonight. May I have the letter that was posted on the gates?"
    Elrond passed the scrap of paper to the human.
    "Taradin." Estel repeated the name committing it to memory before passing the written threat back. "I’ll see what I can find out and I will return by the end of the week with word." He looked at his brothers as he made the last statement. If he didn’t return by that time they would know to come looking for him.
    Elladan nodded seriously as Estel glanced at him.
    "Then come, let us get you prepared." Elrond stood from his seat and held his hand out to the young man. "I imagine you’d like to see Moranuen before you go and I will have Celboril prepare some food to take with you."