Joker 2018


Picture Challenge III



Five Ingredients II




Picture Challenge II


Survey results & NEW RULES

Joker theme



Five Senses

picture challenge






Originals and Copies











Life and Death













Out of Place

Unexpected Adventure



Alphabet Story



Betrayal and Forgiveness

No Time

Yes, I do















History Repeating Itself


Last Words


Around the Fireside

Moments of Transition

First Meetings





Stories and Pictures

In the Name of Love

Animals of Middle-earth




Colours of Middle-earth



Father and Son


One Voice


Heart Break


Losers Weepers

Finders Keepers

Devil's Advocate



Five Ingredients - Your Recipe

The Student Surpasses the Teacher



Return of the Light

Trading Places

The Price of Freedom

Giving Gifts, Receiving Gifts

Bad Habits

Weird Tales


Elven Realms


Crime and Punishment

"When I Was Your Age...!

Eat, Drink and Be Merry!



Once Upon A Time




Growing Up


Dark Places

Friend or Foe

Well-laid Plans

The Sea, The Sea

Good and Evil

The Four Elements

As Time Goes By

Childhood Fears


Me, Myself and I


Maidens of Middle Earth

Crossing Borders

On Location

Home is Where the Heart is

A Glimpse of the Future

That's a First



Unlikely Heroes

The O. C.

Lest we Forget




If I could turn back Time


First Sentence

Things to be Thankful for

White Lie

Winter Wonderland

Rituals and Festivities





What If ...?

One Title: Your Story

A Fairy Tale, Middle-Earth style

Games People Play

Friends in Small Places

Blood of a Brother: The Camping Trip by Nautika

One Title: Your Story
Summary:  Elladan & Elrohir promise to take their little brother camping as
his birthday gift.  After an accident, the trip becomes a brother’s
PG  for minor medical procedure
Disclaimer:  These characters belong to Tolkien.  No money will be made from
this writing.
A/N  Words marked with * are to be considered italics
Sentences between ‘ and ‘ are thoughts.


Elladan jerked in shock and spun about, pulling his sword as he did so, only

to find himself on eye level with an asp.  The elven blade fairly sang as it

cut through the air, separating the snake’s head from it’s body.  The head

fell to the ground while the body remained entwined about the branch above

the elf’s head.  Elladan shivered as he pulled his little brother away from

the trees to the safety of the clearing.  A moment later his sword returned

to it’s sheath and the elf dropped to one knee, pulling his tunic off as he



“Elladan?”  The human’s voice sounded small in the clearing.


“One minute, Estel.”


The dark-haired elf placed his left hand on his right shoulder, pulled

forward and turned his head as far as he could trying to see the bite on his

right upper back.  By stretching and pulling until his muscles hurt he could

just make it out.  Closing his eyes, he released his shoulder and tried to

slow his heart-rate.  He fervently regretted coming alone with his little

brother on this camping trip.  He and Elrohir were to take the young human

on a trip in honor of his birthday, but the younger twin had taken a fall

which resulted in a broken ankle.  Estel had tried to be brave when he heard

it would be a few weeks before Elrond allowed Elrohir to make such a trip,

but his eyes had glistened and his voice held so much disappointment that

Elladan, after consulting with Elrond and Elrohir had asked his youngest

brother if he would like to take a 2-night camping and fishing trip with

only Elladan.  Estel had hesitated, not wishing Elrohir to feel left out,

but accepted the younger twin’s assurance that he would feel better knowing

Estel was having a good time.  The twins explained the three of them would

still take the longer trip that was originally planned after Ro was

recovered.  Forcing himself back to the task at hand and acknowledging

silently that even Elrond’s fore-sight wasn’t perfect, Elladan made peace

with the decision he had made in the few seconds these thoughts had gone

through his mind.


Now sitting back onto his heels, he placed his hands on his young brother’s

arms and pulled him closer.  He pulled the child’s chin down while tilting

his head back.  He carefully scanned the inside of the human’s mouth, then

smiled slightly as he allowed him to close it.


“Estel, I was bitten by that snake before I killed it.  I will be alright,

but there is something that should be done before we start back to



The young human’s eyes were wide, but they never left his brother’s. 

Elladan prayed this would work.  If it did not, then the child would be left

unprotected with a dying brother.  The horror of that thought made the color

drain from Elladan’s face.  He took a breath to calm himself before



“The snake was poisonous.  When it bit me, poison went into my blood and

will spread.  I will be very sick.”


Now the young boy paled and his chin began to quiver ever so slightly. 

Elladan forced a small smile.


“It may not be as bad as you think, little one.  The poison can be pulled

out so I will not be as sick.  If I had been bitten on my arm or leg, I

would do it myself.  I am afraid I cannot reach my back.”


Color came back into the human’s face as he suddenly calmed.  “I can do it. 

Tell me how.”


Even under these dismal circumstances, Elladan had to hide a smile.  His

youngest brother never ceased to amaze him.  “You must suck the poison out

of the bite.  Put your mouth tight against my back, suck, then *spit it

out*.  You must *not* swallow.  Do you understand?  If you swallow the

poison, you will become sick and we do not want that snake to make two sons

of Elrond sick, do we?”


The boy shook his head seriously, not recognizing his elder brother‘s

attempt to lighten the mood.  “I will not swallow.  I will do it right.”


“Very well, but there is something you must do first.  I know you can do

this, Estel.  You must make two small cuts across the bite.”


As he spoke, Elladan pulled his dagger and handed it hilt-first to Estel. 

His eyes held his brother’s.  “You can do this.  Just small cuts, then place

the dagger on the ground, suck and spit.  You must keep doing this until my

blood is all that comes from the wound.  I am sorry you have to do this,

little brother.”


“You would do it for me.”  Estel’s small hand tightened on the handle of the

dagger and he stepped behind the elf.


Elladan heard his little brother take a deep breath.  He could picture him

chewing on his lip and frowning as he prepared to make the cuts.  The elf

held his breath and tried not to tense as the blade parted his skin. 

Finally small lips were on his back.  As his brother began his ministrations

Elladan cautioned again, “Do not swallow, Estel.”


He was rewarded by the sound of his brother following his instructions.




The boy repeated the procedure several times.  Finally, there was a soft



“Estel?  Did you swallow?  Are you well?”


There was an audible swallow and Elladan turned quickly and grabbed the

human by the shoulders, ignoring the dizziness that threatened to unbalance

him.  “Estel?”


“I am well, Elladan.  I did not swallow, I promise.”


His task over, tears threatened the young one.  Elladan pulled him into an

embrace.  “Thank you, Estel.  You did well.  Now we must go back to



“I know.”


There was such sorrow in the boy’s voice, Elladan delayed a few precious

moments longer so he could explain the reason for cutting their trip short. 

He wished for a clearer calmer head, so he could explain their situation to

his brother in a way that wouldn’t frighten him or make him feel responsible

should something go wrong.  “Estel, even though you did well, some of the

poison - just a little - will still be in my body.  We need to go home

before it become difficult for me to travel.”  Elladan admitted to himself

that traveling would already be difficult, but he would simply have to hope

for the best.


“I understand, Elladan.  I just wish you would not…”  Estel paused for a few

moments, then concluded, “…feel bad.”


The elf felt a surge of pride in his human brother.  He had a kind heart.


“We will leave everything except our emergency pack and water here.  It will

be easier to travel without them.  Would you like to get them, Estel?”


The child nodded solemnly and went to do as his brother asked.  He seemed so

forlorn, the elf knew he was more disappointed to be going home that he

pretended to be.  Elladan promised himself he would make it up to him. 

Estel returned with their water bags and a pouch of food and herbs .


“Are you ready, Elladan?”


“I’m ready, little brother.”  Elladan pushed himself slowly up from where he

had knelt, taking a couple of  shaky steps to the side before steadying

himself.  Resting his left hand on his brother’s head, he smiled down at the

boy.  “Let us be on our way.”


Elladan whistled for the horses, who had been allowed to find their own food

and water nearby.  ‘I should have done this already,’ he realized.  ‘The

poison is already effecting me.’  He shook his head to clear it.  Estel’s

pony would slow them down, so they would both need to mount his horse.  Even

deciding how to best accomplish this was a struggle; he didn’t think he

could stand if he knelt again, but he wasn’t sure he could bear Estel’s

weight, either.  In the end, he mounted himself, then reached back down for

the boy and placed him behind him.  The horse knew the way, so if he

*should* lose consciousness, Estel would not have to guide the animal.


The ride home held none of the joy the trip out.  Elladan fought to stay

erect on his horse’s back, but he was already fevered and dizzy.  His vision

was blurred and the area of the bite throbbed with every heart beat.  So did

his head.  He could hear his brother calling his name, but it sounded far

away.  He knew the child was frightened but he couldn’t think what to do to

help him.  He became frightened himself when he realized his eye lids were

starting to close.  That should not be happening.  Not this soon.


Estel, riding behind his brother, had been watching him rock and sway

through unshed tears.  When the elf lost his battle to remain upright and

fell from their mount, Estel quickly jumped from the horse’s back and ran to

his side.


“Elladan, are you hurt?”


Elladan was gasping for breath.  The jar of the fall had cleared his head

somewhat.  Pain was a rude awakener, but at the moment, the elf was grateful

for it.  He was more afraid for his brother than for himself.  Inwardly, he

cursed himself for putting the boy in this situation.




“We are not far from home, Elladan.  Please get up!”




“But you *have* to!  Please, Elladan.  I’ll help.”




Estel watched in horror as his brother’s eyes drifted shut.  He remained

frozen only for a moment before dropping the bags he had clutched in his arm

all this time and running toward the elf’s horse.


“Go home!  Go home!  Get help!  Get Ada!”


The animal stood undecided - not used to taking orders from this small

being.  Terrified for his brother, Estel grabbed a stick from the ground and

began to strike the horse with it, over and over, all the while shouting at

the beast to go home.  Finally, seeing his master was not awakening, the

horse took a last look a the small one, snorted and galloped off in the

direction of Rivendell.  Having done all he could, Estel fell across his

brother’s body and cried as though his heart were breaking.


The child’s sobs had quieted to hiccups by the time he heard the sound of

hooves moving swiftly toward him.  He wiped his face with the backs of his

hands and stood to meet whoever it was, praying it was his elven father.


Elrond dismounted before his horse had time to stop and ran toward his sons.

  He reached to pick Estel up and was stunned when the boy backed away.


“Not me, Ada.  Elladan!  A snake bit him!”


Elrond’s heart fell.


“Where, Estel?  Where is the bite?”


The boy pointed to his own back to show the healer.  It wasn’t until the elf

lord reached for his eldest that he realized he wore nothing above his

waist.  He fought down nausea as he realized there was no hope for his first

born.  Elladan could not have reached his back to treat the wound.  With the

poison already overtaking his system it would do no good to draw it out now

and he had no anti-venom with him.  Feeling the pressure of tears, he placed

a hand before the younger elf’s nose and mouth.  Not expecting to feel

breath on his hand, Elrond blinked as much in surprise as to keep his tears

at bay.  Only after finding that his eldest had not yet left for the Halls

of Mandos did he turn him to where he could see the wound.


He gasped aloud.  Behind him, one of the elves who accompanied him moved

slowly closer.  “Lord Elrond?”


“The wound has been treated.  The skin is cut.”


A small voice spoke from his side.  Elrond started in surprise.  “I did it,

Ada.  He told me what to do and I did it.  He said I did well, but I know I

did not.  I am so sorry, Ada!”


Elrond drew the boy briefly to him with one arm.  “You did this, Estel?  I

am proud of you.  If your brother said you did well, then I am sure you did.

  But he is still very ill and we must get him home quickly.  Can you ride

with one of the others so I can care for your brother?”


The human nodded and walked over to a familiar elf, who patted his head and

sat him on a tall horse, then mounted behind him.  Another elf waited until

Elrond was settled onto his own horse, then carefully handed Elladan up to

him.  Almost immediately, the elf lord moved in front of the others and

raced for home.


== Later, in the Healing Rooms ==




“Yes, Elrohir?”


“You are exhausted.  Lay down and rest.  I will keep watch in case he



Elrond continued to sit in his spot on the side of Elladan’s bed.  Finally,

he raised his eyes to Elrohir’s face and simply nodded.


“I know he will be fine.  It is only that I had such a fright when Estel

told me the bite was on his back.”  In spite of himself, Elrond heard a

slight tremor in his voice.


As his father cleared his throat, Elrohir looked around the room.  “Where is

Estel?  I haven’t seen him since your return, even when the warriors came to

say they’d found his pony and stabled it safely.”


Elrond surveyed the room as well, half expecting to find his youngest asleep

on one of the beds in the Healing Rooms.  Elrohir was right.  He wasn’t



“I will make sure he is alright before I lay down.  This had to have been

very frightening for him.”


Elrohir’s voice was soft, almost as though he were speaking to himself. 

“For both of them.”  Rousing himself from his thoughts, Elrond’s middle son

looked to his father.  “Ada, if he is awake, will you tell him that Elladan

and I will do something really special for him as soon as we are able?  This

week really has not gone as we planned with first my injury and now

Elladan’s.”  He gave the older elf an unhappy smile.  “I am afraid he will

not want a birthday present from us next year, considering how badly this

year’s has gone.”


Elrond moved to stand behind Elrohir and leaned over to place a kiss of

blessing on his head.  “Yes, it seems he is the one who gave us the gift;

the gift of Elladan’s life.”


The young elf smiled reassuringly at his father.  “You should check on him,

Ada.  Just to be sure he sleeps.”


Elrond returned the smile and took the first tension-free breath he’d had

since Elladan’s horse returned without a rider.  Placing his hands on his

hips, he stretched back and headed toward the door.  “I only hope he is not

through sleeping when I am ready to begin.”


He left Elrohir chuckling softly behind him.  Yes, the danger to Elladan was

over.  Now he could relax.


Stopping at the door to Estel’s room, he pushed it open carefully.  His

eyebrows rose in surprise when he found the room empty.


The elf lord strode quietly down the corridor toward his own room, but

paused as he passed Elladan’s and heard his adopted son’s voice.  Silently,

he moved to stand outside the door, listening, hoping to get a feel for just

how profoundly his child had been affected by the events of the day. 

Normally, Estel was very open with his family, but if he felt they had other

concerns, he might try not to worry them.  Elrond did not intend to allow

that to happen.  Hearing his youngest’s words, though, made him fear he had

already waited too long.


“I am so sorry, Dan.  I tried my best.  You and Ro and Ada say that is

enough, but it is not.  I am sorry I am not Ro or Ada.  They would have done

it right.  I am sorry I ever thought of a stupid trip and I am sorry I was

selfish when Ro was hurt.  I know you had rather have been here with him,

but you went with me instead.  Oh.  And I am sorry I hit your horse.  I only

wanted Ada and it was the only way I could make him leave us.  I did not do

it to hurt him.”


Estel paused a moment in his soliloquy, when he spoke again, his sniffles

became a wail.  “I miss you, Dan.  I want you back.”  Elrond could take no

more.  He pushed into the room as Estel’s uttered his last words, almost

beyond understanding, but the father knew it was his youngest expressing

love for his big brother.  Quietly, Elrond gathered both Estel and the

pillow he’d been apologizing to in his brother’s stead into his arms.


“Ion nin, why all the tears?  Your brother will be fine.”  As he spoke, the

elf gently wiped the tears from his son’s face, only to see them replaced by

more.  Inconsolable, Estel wrapped his arms around his father’s neck and

held on as tightly as he could, his face buried in his father’s dark hair.


“I’m sorry, Ada.  I’m so sorry.”


“Ion nin, there is no need to be sorry.  Why do you think you should be



“Elladan’s going to die.  When elves die they don’t get to be together with

their family forever.  Elladan’s going to die and he is going to be alone

and you and Ro will never see him again.  And it is my fault.”


As the elf lord pondered who had been discussing the elven after-life with

the human, Estel’s sobbing actually increased; something the elf would not

have believed possible.  He rose from the bed, the boy still securely in his

arms and moved to Elladan’s washstand. There, he picked up a cloth, dampened

it and then pulled his son’s arms from around his neck so he could wash his

tear-stained face.  He wiped the boy’s face repeatedly, then slid the cloth

under this hair at the back of his neck.  When he finished, he placed the

cloth in the basin and used his hand to lift the human’s chin so their eyes



“Have I ever lied to you, Estel?”


The boy shook his head no.


“Do you believe I love you, Estel?”


His reply was a slow nod; too low for Elrond’s peace of mind.


“Yes, I love you.  I love you as I love Elladan and Elrohir.  And I would

*never* lie to any of you.”  He gave the boy a few heartbeats to absorb that

before continuing.  “Elladan is going to be well.  He is sleeping now, but

when he wakes up you will be able to see him and talk with him.  He may tire

easily at first, but in a few days - by the time Elrohir’s ankle is fully

mended, Elladan will be as good as new.  As a matter of fact, when Elrohir

knew I was coming to see you, he asked me to give you a message.  Would you

like to hear it?”


Another slow nod.  Elrond suppressed the urge to sigh.


“Elrohir asked me to tell  you that as soon as he and Elladan are better,

they will do something special for you.  He is very sorry that your birthday

gift did not turn out as they had wanted.”


Estel studied his father’s face for several moments, looking older than his

years.  Elrond waited.  Finally, Estel took a deep breath and let it out

slowly.  Elrond heard a slight quiver, but noted her were no new tears on

his son’s face.


“But Dan was dying.”


“He only passed out, Estel.  He was merely unconscious.”


“I knew that, Ada.  That is not why I thought it.”


“Why did you think it, Estel?”


“Elladan said I had to suck until there was no more poison, only blood.  I

tried and I tried, Ada.  I tried until I was all out of breath, but still

what came out was not red!”


Elrond was absolutely silent for several heartbeats, barely even breathing. 

When he finally moved, he pulled Estel to him roughly.  He held his child

firmly against his body as he tried not to weep.  The elf lord lost track of

time, caught in this moment with his youngest.  He had somehow sacrificed

the well-being of one son for the sake of another.


“Ada, are you well?”


Elrond drew a shaky breath and allowed the human to lean back in his arms. 

With a smile on his face, Elrond kissed Estel’s brow.  “Yes, ion nin.  I am

well.  I only regret you have been so upset.  Estel, your blood is red

because you are human.  But elven blood is not red.  No matter how much you

had drawn from your brother, it would never have been red.  This is

something I took for granted that you knew.  I was wrong to do so.  I hope

you will forgive me.”


“I don’t understand, Ada.  What is there to forgive?”


“You have spent all these hours thinking your brother was going to die.”


“But he is not.”


“No, he will be sitting up by this time tomorrow.”


“Then all is well. Can I go To the Healing Rooms so I can be there when he

wakes?  I promise to be quiet.”


“Are you not sleepy?  You have had a very difficult day.”


“I may be a *little* sleepy, but can I not sleep in the Healing Rooms?”


The lord of Rivendell smiled.  “Estel, I think we will both sleep better





As he carried his youngest down the stairs, Elrond thought how differently

this day might have turned out if not for a small child’s courage.


The End





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