Priceless Treasure

Chapter 11

by Cassia and Siobhan

First > Previous > Next   

"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 death. 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 least!"

"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 admit us."

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 happened.

"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 dismount.

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 front door.

"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 his shoulder.

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 them.

"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 nearly unbearable.

"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 paces.

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 for you!"

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 twins.

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 closed 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 bed.

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 pained.

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 whisper.

"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," he 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 never 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 nightmare.

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 slow.

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 exhausted slumber.


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 alone 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...