Blood of a Brother: A bolt across time by Rowena|
Summary: Across the years two sets of bloodied hands hold the same box and reflect.
Disclaimer: I own none of the characters in this piece of fiction. They all belong to Prof J.R.R.Tolkien. I merely borrow them in the hope that I can give to others the same amount of enjoyment that I have received from reading their stories.
Blood of a Brother- A Bolt Across Time
Sitting on the ledge of the west facing window, young Estel, the adopted son of Elrond, Lord of Rivendell, watched the sunset with wide, wonder filled eyes.
In all his seven years never had he seen a spectacle that was the sky on this balmy late afternoon/early evening. The sky was the most amazing colour blue. What would, at any other time of the day, have been thin white clouds were now painted in vibrant colours of flame yellow, orange and blood red. The colour had been deepening over the last few moments, until it seemed as if the clouds were fighting a sky battle.
Sitting as he was Estel also had a good view of the eastern sky. In contrast to its western counterpart the sky was a more muted blue, but nevertheless still a brilliant blue. On the horizon the clouds were painted in the more subtle shade of pink, a mere reflection of the art show to the west.
Against this backdrop a pure white full moon had just finished rising.
Yes this night promised to be very special.
All that was missing from this time was someone to share it with him. His brothers, who normally would have been with him, were away, running some sort of errand for their father. From what he had been told the pair had been due home some time ago.
How he wished they were here. As well as the show outside his window, there was something else Estel wished his brothers to see. Only this morning he had trapped his first rabbit. In the trap that he had made. Proud of what he had accomplished he wished to share it with the twins.
The prize rabbit now occupied a corner of his room , confined by a crude cage made up of scavenged pillows, cushions and chairs. The big golden brown rabbit seemed happy enough. He had made himself a nest in one corner of the structure was happily nibbling on some lettuce leaves and carrots Estel had pilfered from the kitchen earlier. He had been so hoping the twins would have been home by now and even possibly helping him to build a proper hatch for his new pet.
As the sky show was coming to an end and the moon was becoming brighter in the sky his attention was caught by movement in the court yard below. He could hear voices, many of them and shouting . The words he could not make out but the tone of the noise frightened him. The paved area was bathed in torch light and faintly in the distance he could hear the sound of approaching horses.
His brothers, the twins were finally home!
With one final glance to the east Estel jumped down from the window ledge, stopped by the crude hatch to pat his rabbit and headed out his bedroom door. Finally they had arrived. It was now late but maybe the three of them could sit down for a few moments, before his father ordered him to bed, and at least talk about his ideas.
Pacing nervously, Elrond, Lord of Rivendell cast yet another glance at the gate that led out of the courtyard and over the bridge that spanned the Bruinen. His normally calm and unemotional face was now drawn and worried. He had been that way ever since the messenger falcon had taken off without warning just before the noon day meal and had returned some time later with a message from the youngest of his twin sons.
The message had been short and to the point.
‘Ran into trouble. Dan and guest injured. Arrival delayed half day’
What had chilled his soul even more was that the message had been written in blood.
What scared him about the message was the lack of further information. His sons were notorious for getting into trouble. They had been since they had been born. But like all parents he worried. Others in Rivendell thought of him sometimes as cold and without feelings. If only they could see him now. One of his sons was injured. How badly he did not know. And the not knowing was causing his imagination to run away with him.
The bloody message did not help in any way. Had Ro, having nothing else to use, written the message with his own twins blood?
Since the message had arrived he had spent hours preparing his medical supplies. He was a well trained and well thought of healer, but this was his son and nothing was to be left to chance.
Their guest too had been injured in this run in with trouble. That also was not exactly the news Elrond wished to hear. It had taken a considerable amount of negotiating and promises before their guest had been given permission to travel the distance to Rivendell. Personal guarantees had been made. He had sent his own sons to collect their guest and deliver him safely to Imladris.
The sound of hooves thumping hard into the packed earth that made up the courtyard and the area immediately beyond the gate signalled the arrival of not only his sons and their guest, but the party of warrior/guards he had sent out after receiving the message.
First through the gate ,bearing lit torches, came two of the guard party. Behind on the same horse he had left on came the youngest of his dark headed twin sons, Elrohir.
One only had to look at Ro to tell that the travelling party had run into trouble. His normally well combed hair was dishevelled, there was a cut on his left cheek and the signs of forming bruises about his eyes, forehead and throat.
That was when he could see Ro’s face. Every other second Elrohir turned back and cast a worried glance towards the cart that was following behind him.
From where he stood Elrond was able to discern the shapes of two bodies. Although not yet close enough to see the faces, he could easily pick out the still, motionless body of his other son. Elladan.
“Ada.” Elrohir called out as he dismounted his horse and hurried to his father´s side. Once at his goal destination he grabbed the elf lord´s arm and dragged him towards the cart. “Hurry. They are both badly hurt.” Shrugging away when his father tried to catch his chin “Do not concern yourself with me Ada. I got off lightly.”
“How did this happen?” Elrond asked as he stepped up to the cart and then knelt between its two motionless occupants.
“Ambush Ada.” Ro seethed as he knelt by his father, his eyes darting between his twin and their guest. “We had just reached the bottom of the Misty Mountains and where making our way across the flat land when orcs attacked us. Ada we had no warning. The three of us somehow became separated. I was forced , now that I think about it, further away from Dan. The orcs seemed to be picking on him. I know not why. I remember at one point seeing four of them beating on him something fierce . The next thing I heard was a cry, and then turned to see our guest laying next to Dan bleeding. The very end of a steel bolt visible under his ribs. Dan was by this time unconscious. Ada I think our guest took the bolt meant for Dan.”
Removing the blanket that covered his eldest son, and then stripping away the remnants of his son’s tunic, Elrond was able to confirm what his younger twin son had told him. Elladan had indeed been badly beaten. He counted quiet clearly four broken ribs. To his relief his son´s breathing was clear. No gurgling sound, that usually indicated the presence of blood in the lungs, could be heard.
A quick examination of their guest told the Lord of Imladris that he too was in dire straits. Bruises marked their guests fair face. A bulging right shoulder joint spoke of at best a dislocated shoulder.
”Show me the bolt.” Elrond demanded.
If their guest was to be saved every second would count.
“There Ada.” Elrohir pointed to the left side of their guest. “With that angle of entry I dared not remove it myself. It’s lodged in too deep. I feared if I had tried, all I would have achieved would be to drive the bolt in deeper or cause further heavy bleeding.”
The bolt had indeed lodged at an extreme angle. Instead of penetrating all the way through the elf’s body, this bolt had been fired at an angle. Only the very end of the steel missile could be seen. The rest was somewhere in the left air sac of their guest.
“You made the right decision my son.” The Elf Lord reassured his fretting son “ It will be far safer to remove the bolt here where there will be two or three of us to assist.”
Movement from one of the upper windows caught his eye as he stepped down from the cart.
The child had seen the party arrive and would by now be running down the main staircase in order to greet his brothers as they entered the main doors. And the last thing the Elf lord wanted was for his youngest son to see his two brothers, and their guest, in their current condition.
Making eye contact with his trusted friend and confidant Glorfindel , Elrond nodded in the direction of the door. The Balrog slayer caught the nod and its meaning and left to head the young human child off.
On this night the corridor leading from his room to the flight of stairs at its end seemed incredibly long. Even though his legs were pumping as hard as they could, to Estel the journey seemed never ending. All the while the only thing he could think of was that, by the time he arrived in the courtyard, his father would have already headed his brothers off to his study and there would be no chance to speak to them at all.
In taking the stairs two at a time the young human child never saw the tall, imposing figure of the Balrog slayer standing at the foot of the same stairs until it was too late. He ran head long into the elf’s legs.
“Where are you off to in such a hurry young Estel?” The Elf Lord inquired as he bent down and scooped the child into his arms. “It is bed time, and you know how your father feels about you being in bed on time.”
“But Dan and Ro are back.” Estel protested , desperately squirming in the elf lords arms trying his best to see out the door into the courtyard. “I want to see them ,tell them about my rabbit and show him to them.”
“You can see your brothers in the morning Estel.” Glorfindel said as he climbed up the stairs, the child still in his arms. “Dan and Ro have had a long journey and are very tired, they too need to rest.”
“But….” The child continued his protests. “I’m sure they’ll still want to see me won’t they. Even just for a while. Please.”
“Your father has said that they are to rest and he means it. He does not even want to hear what they have to report about their journey until the morning.”
“But I want to show them my rabbit.” Estel tried again. This time reaching out a hand to grab the banister, hoping that that would halt the progress towards his room.
“In the morning Estel.” The Elf Lord repeated, reaching out and grabbing the little hand before it could lock onto the railing. “Now it is bedtime.”
Below in the entrance hall Elrond listened to the exchange going on between his youngest son and his friend with a heavy heart. He did not want to stop his youngest being reunited with his brothers, and yet at the same time he could not allow the child to see the injuries to Elladan and their guest. Seeing the pain the two were in, not to mention the amount of blood their guest was loosing, would frighten the child. And Elrond did not want his youngest feeling that kind of fear. Not yet anyway. Not at his young age.
Estel would learn that kind of pain and fear soon enough.
The eating hall was quiet and deserted the next morning as Estel entered the room. The table at which the family usually sat to eat their meals was set only just for one.
The normal setting was for five. His father at the head of the table, to his right two places, one for each of the twins, and to the left was his own place. Lord Glorfindel occupied the other end of the table, opposite Elrond, when he was in residence. But this morning there was only his place set.
Elladan and Elrohir must’ve really been tired if they were missing out on breakfast, Estel thought.
The twins normally arrived well ahead of him when it came to meal times. Their longer legs ate up the distance between the family bedrooms and the dining hall much quicker than his shorter ones. And they usually teased him about it until ordered by their father to stop. One day that would change, his father kept telling him.
“When you grow a little bit more my son.” Elrond kept saying. “Then you will be able to keep pace with your brothers.”
Right now , he felt, he would gladly put up with the usual morning teasing , if one, just one of his brothers would join him for the meal. A cold feeling ran across the back of his neck. Even though he was only seven years old Estel sensed something was wrong. It wasn’t just that he was the only one in the dinning hall this morning, there was something else. The house, the grounds, it was quiet, too quiet, almost as if….. his young mind rejected the thought, not wanting to even believe it. As it someone had died.
Without a word to Galbon, the elf in charge of the Rivendell kitchens, Estel jumped down from his place and hurried out the door.
“Estel wait, you have not eaten your breakfast” The confused and slightly flustered chef called to the child’s retreating back.
“I must see Ada.” Estel called back at the elvan chef. “I must see my brothers.”
“Your brothers are still asleep child.” Galbon called “Your father does not want them disturbed.”
“Where is Ada?” Estel asked, returning to stand near the chef.
“I think I saw him go into his study, child.” The chef replied. “Now please, young Estel, come and have your breakfast.”
“I must see Ada.” The child repeated
The answers he was getting from the Rivendell chef were doing nothing to put his young mind at ease.
Something was still not right in the house.
Exhausted, Elrond collapsed into the chair in front of his usually neatly kept study table.
After the night he had just lived through he felt, at this moment ,that nothing ever again would be neatly kept.
He looked down at his hands and sighed. Nothing about his hands at this moment either was neat or tidy. Red stains covered his long fingered hands. Red from the blood of the one he had spent so many hours trying to save.
The fight had been a long one and painful one.
Clutched in his red stained hands was the bolt that had caused the many hours of pain and worry. Even now he was careful in the way he held the projectile.
When it had entered the body of its victim, its tip had been covered in poison. That poison had quickly begun its deadly work, reaching its victims lungs and heart quickly.
He shook his head in disgust. It was not enough for the orcs to simply kill elves by their traditional methods any more .No. Now, as well as inflicting considerable damage with their knives, swords and arrow, they employed fast acting poison that caused the victims´ heart and lungs to shut down.
The one and only counteragent he had in stock had caused nearly as much damage to his patient as the poison and the arrow had together. While the herb he employed to counter the poison had worked quickly and effectively, it had the side effect of thinning the patient`s blood, therefor increasing the blood loss out of the initial wound. His hands bore witness to that.
That, combined with this patient`s valiant and honour bound insistence that he treat his own injured son first, had not helped his temper. This had turned out to be one of the times he wished he could be in two places at once.
Elladan’s injuries, although not as life threatening as his guest`s, had caused him great concern. The damaged ribs ,some of which were resting against the lungs, had to be tugged back into place and that involved cutting open his own son`s chest in multiple places. Cutting his own son`s flesh had been the most painful thing he had ever done. To watch his own hands rip into Elladan’s chest and side made him feel violently ill. Only the thought that what he was doing would help his son had kept him going.
Repressing a yawn he reached for the small display case he had requested the carpenters to make. The blood on his hands smeared against the glass but he did not care. It could easily be washed off later. What was more important was that the bolt be placed in the case as a permanent reminder. A reminder of the night`s events, what their guest had been willing to sacrifice himself for his family and what that self same guest now meant to him and in time, he hoped, to all his children.
It wasn’t until he heard his youngest son`s cry of ‘Ada’ that Elrond realized he even had company.
The child looked in horror at his bloodied hands and then turned and bolted down the corridor heading for his brothers` rooms.
“Estel! Wait!” Elrond cried desperately but in vain. The young human child had vanished.
After leaving the elven chef Estel decided that the next best course of action would be to make his way to his father`s study. Many other times in the past when he couldn’t find his father anywhere else in the house he had found Elrond in his study.
This time proved to be no exception.
What he was not expecting to see when he arrived was the blood that covered the elf lord`s hands.
Wide eyed and open mouthed, all the young child could do was stare at the older elf’s hands. Wild thoughts ran through his mind. What had happened? Had one of his brothers been so badly injured? Why had nobody thought to tell him? Had the feeling that someone had died in fact been real and had it been one of his beloved brothers?
So engrossed with these thoughts was the child that he didn’t even realize that tears were streaming down his face or that he had even breathed the word
Confused and wanting answers that were not coming fast enough for his young mind Estel turned and hurriedly took off down the corridor and up the stairs to the rooms that his brothers occupied.
He didn’t even hear his father’s call of “Estel.”
The confused and frightened calling of his younger brother jerked Elrohir out of the short doze he was having in the chair next to his twin`s bed.
He had spent the better part of the night in that one spot, waiting. Waiting for his sibling to stir and tease him.
Seeing his other self injured like he was, was a rare occurrence and it worried him. To see Elladan unconscious and wrapped up so tightly as he was scared him. One part of his own self was missing and it felt weird. He was the one that usually ended up in the bed with Dan watching over him.
The call came again only this time much closer.
The tone of his younger human brother`s voice worried him. He rose and walked over to the partially closed door. Opening it fully he looked down the corridor for any sign of the young child , only to find himself caught in the grasp of a mini bear hug.
“Hey pipsqueak.” He said bending down and lifting Estel into his arms. “What’s all the fuss about ?”
Whatever answer he got was muffled as his Estel buried his head in his brothers neck and began to sob.
“What is wrong?” Elrohir asked again trying to turn and see Estels face.
“I saw… Ada’s hands…” Estel sobbed. “I thought something….bad …to you and Dan..” He glanced over Elrohir's shoulder.
Elrohir felt the small body huddled against his own tense up and knew what was coming.
“Fear not Estel.” He began trying to take control of the situation before the human child’s emotions ran away with him. “Dan is fine. He is just sleeping that is all.”
With Estel still in his arms he moved back into the room.
“Now how about you sit here and wait here with me for him to wake up?”
Feeling Estel nod against his shoulder Elrohir again made himself comfortable in the bed side chair. Reaching down he quickly wiped away the last remaining tear from Estel’s face.
“Why didn’t he wake up when I came in?” Estel asked confusedly. “I want to show you both the rabbit I caught. I was hoping you’d both help me build a house for him.”
“Give me a day or two more short stop.” The weak voice of Elladan said from the bed “ And we will both be more than happy to help you.”
“Dan!” Estel cried out and tried to crawl off Elrohir’s lap and onto the bed that Elladan lay on.
“Hey brother.” Elrohir greeted his now awake other self. “About time you joined us. How do you feel?”
“Sore.” Elladan admitted. “And tight. Just how much wrapping did Ada use?”
“The correct amount given the state of your injuries.” The voice of Elrond answered from the door way.
A bewildered Estel sat quietly as the exchange between elvan father and sons’ flowed.
“But your hands Ada?” He finally asked “I saw…”
“I know what you saw Estel.” Elrond answered. “And if you had stayed in my study just a little longer, I would have explained to you just what happened.”
“Ada. Our guest?” Elladan asked.
“Still with us.” Elrond replied. “Still sleeping but still with us.”
Still none the wiser about what was going on, all Estel could do was look from one adult elf to another hoping that someone would notice his confusion .
“Come Estel.” Elrond said holding out his hand. “There is someone I would like you to meet.”
With his youngest’s hand firmly clasped in his own the Elf lord of Rivendell led the human child out of the room in which his brothers were and down the hall to the very room where Estel had watched the full moon only the night before.
In what had been the empty bed a figure covered by a light sheet lay. From where he stood Estel could clearly see that the stranger was an elf. But an elf like he had never seen before. Where all the elves of Rivendell had dark hair like his father or maybe red hair, this elf had a head of almost silver hair.
Upon hearing the footsteps of Elrond and his youngest son, Erestor, who had been keeping a watch over the sleeping elf, rose.
“Any change?” Elrond asked as the chief of his household passed by.
“I am afraid not my lord.” The elf replied and quietly left.
“Who is he Ada?” Estel asked as he moved forward so he could better see the unconscious elf.
“His name is Legolas my son. He is the son and heir of Thranduil, King of the Mirkwood elves.”
Glancing at the table next to the Prince of Mirkwood’s head Estel spotted the water basin and the one last piece of blood stained cloth that had escaped his father`s attention. It finally all made sense.
“It was his blood, wasn’t it Ada? On your hands?”
“Yes my son. It was indeed” Elrond said and then continued with .” The Prince did something very noble He put his life on the line in order to save Elladan's and in doing so was badly injured.”
“He is going to need all of us here, Elladan, Elrohir, myself and you to help him so that he can recover.”
“Me?” The child asked.
Never in the past had his father asked for his help in anything so important.
“Yes you too Estel.” Elrond said as he beamed down at his adopted son.
“I’ll show him my rabbit.” The child offered.
“And I am sure Legolas would enjoy seeing him. Once he is strong enough to get up.’
“Then I’ll wait right here.” Estel said, sitting down in the chair Erestor had vacated “I won’t leave.”
‘I know you will not my son.’ Elrond thought to himself and smiled. Knowing full well that at some point in the future he would hear those words repeated again and again.
In the room of the Citadel of Minas Tirith set aside for storage, King Elessar of Gondor cursed as yet another piece of breakable pottery slipped from the grip of his wet, bloodied hands.
The last few hours had been a nightmare. A hellish time during which he didn’t know if he would be able to ,even with the vast knowledge of healing he had acquired over the years, both by his father`s side and in the wilds, save the life of one who had been as a brother to him for the majority of his life.
A small skirmish with one of the last bands of Corsairs still harassing Gondor near the mouth of Erui had resulted in his brother being injured.
A Corsair had had him pinned down. As he and the pirate had been rolling over and over , both trying to get the upper hand in their private little battle , a second pirate, this one armed with a cross bow, had taken aim at him. Legolas, seeing the danger to his brother and being unable, due to the noise of the battle, to shout a warning, had flung himself in the bolt`s path. The end result being that, although the elf had been able to take out the bowman, the bolt had still been fired and had driven itself deep into the chest cavity of the elf Lord of Ithilien.
From then on the rest of the battle had been played out in a haze. He couldn’t remember how it was that he and his forces had finally won. All that he could see and focus on was his injured elf brother. Even the hurried, frantic ride back to the city had been a blur.
If he concentrated hard enough he could remember the worried, concerned faces of the people he had passed on his mad dash from the city gates to the front steps of the citadel.
Even the face of his wife and queen Arwen, the one he loved so much to look at and admire, was a blur. The only thing that had occupied his thoughts was to get Legolas to the room he inhabited when he visited the city , remove the projectile and staunch the bleeding.
All through the hurried ride across the plain and up the long winding road that led from the main gate, through the seven levels of the city and finally ended at the steps of the white palace of the king, the bleeding from Legolas’s chest wound hadn’t ceased. His hands, his jerkin and that of the elf prince were covered with the precious fluid. No matter how hard he pressed down on the wound the prince`s blood never stopped flowing.
And through the same journey tears had fallen down his cheeks, tears of anger for what had happened and tears of frustration at his own inability to do anything to help his brother. Medical supplies had not been a priority on this trip. He had never thought that they would be engaging in a battle. It was supposed to be a scouting trip only.
He did remember taking the stairs two at a time in his hurry. Arwen had thankfully been warned and had had everything he needed laid out and waiting, even down to a poker heating in the fire.
At one point Legolas had woken and had inquired as to the state of his health. That had been hard enough to take, but when Legolas had then tried to apologize for been to slow in taking out the pirate archer, thus causing all the fuss, he had almost broken down.
It was in fact his actions following that little exchange that had caused him to finally break down. Mindful of the need to sterilize and cauterise the wound , and with Legolas still fully conscious, he had thrust the white hot poker into the chest cavity of his elf brother . The poker did its job and the elf prince`s life fluid had stopped flowing out of the bolt hole.
Legolas had cried out as the heat of the poker had seared his flesh and had then collapsed back against the pillows unconscious. Fear and loathing had gripped him at that point. Fear that in trying to save Legolas’s life he had in fact taken it and hating himself for what he had done. While lifting Legolas’s upper body and head into his arms so he could cradle the elf, the last of the blood that had flowed freely from his brothers body covered his hands.
That had been the catalyst for his current search.
It had to be here somewhere. He knew that.
It had been one of the first things he had picked up and set aside last year when he and Arwen, along with his brothers Elladan and Elrohir, had gone back to close up much of Rivendell following the departure of their father for the undying lands.
Finally, after tossing aside another three items he spotted the objects of his search.
A smile broke over his face as he held up first the picture. The picture painted by the archivist of Rivendell; the picture of himself as a small child, sitting on the grass in the court yard of Imladris, beside him his friend and brother Legolas Prince of Mirkwood and between them his first pet. The golden brown rabbit he had caught in his first trap. Mr Legolas.
His bloodied hand reached out and stroked the glass that covered that part of the picture that was Mr Legolas. The picture had been painted while Legolas had been recovering after the attack that nearly claimed both his and Elladan’s lives.
A single tear rolled down his cheek as he remembered the day, four years after the picture had been painted, when he’d gone to feed Mr Legolas, only to find that his pet had died in his sleep.
Legolas had not been present had the time, but had made an emergency dash from Mirkwood to be there with him when the four friends, along with his father, had laid the rabbit to rest under the tree not far from where he had been caught.
Carefully putting the painting down Elessar continued his search.
Laying near the bottom of the box he spied the display box with the bolt fired from an orc cross bow all those years ago.
A sad smile played across his face as he watched his own, red, blood-covered hands reach out for the box. For a moment he flashed back to that moment all those years ago when he had seen the display case for the first time ,when the red, blood-covered hands that held it were not his own , but his father`s. But no matter which hands he saw holding the box, the blood that covered them was the same. The blood of one willing to sacrifice so much so that the sons of Elrond would be safe.
The bolt in the case had long since gone rusty. The blood that had covered it when it was first placed in the case was now little more than flakes at the bottom of the box. But the reason, the purpose of the case remained just as strong.
A reminder, a reminder that in this Middle Earth there were still those willing to sacrifice their blood and their lives for those they care about.