Arvariane Estel - Chapter 4 - The Betrayal of Lorien

A month later, Morning, Caras Galadhon

The beautiful Golden Wood city of the Elven realm of Lorien, Caras Galadhon sparkled with delight as sunlight broke through the canopy of the tall oaks. The dwellings of the fair city glittered like gold as Ariane, dressed in a flowing silver dress of the Galadhrim that Lady Galadriel and Lord Celeborn had given her on the Entourage of Rivendell's arrival in the Forests of Lothlorien a month ago, stood on the veranda of her Caras Galadhon guesthouse, smiling at the beauty of the Golden Wood before her.

Elves had already begun the day on the ground and in the treetops, the city stirring with messengers delivering news from other Middle-earth realms, servants organizing the farewell breakfast of their princess, Lady Celebrìan, back to Rivendell, young Elvish soldiers practicing swordcraft and archery.

Gazing below her, Ariane found a squad of Sentinels of the Golden Wood preparing to head out to replace those who have been on duty at the borders of Lothlorien Forest. Looking smart, dressed in black, grey and the chameleon cloaks of Lothlorien, the 15 sentinels, all fair-haired and handsome, stood at ease in three ranks and was commanded by the elf Ariane had come to know as Garandil, a Captain within the Sentinel Elite. A small knock came from her guesthouse door.

"Come in!" Ariane called out, not even turning to see who it was. Hearing the door open and close followed by soft, but confident footsteps approaching her from behind, Ariane knew who it was instantly.

"Having a little stare at the muscle of Lorien?" the voice of Haldir teased as he took place beside her. "You have had a whole month to indulge and only now when you are leaving do I find you gawking at the good-looking males of Lorien, finally taking notice."

Ariane cast a mischievous grin at her friend. "Actually I am quite disappointed. None of them I find are remotely attractive. To humans maybe, but by Elven standards they are rather...plain."

Haldir raised an eyebrow as he looked at Garandil's squad. "Hmm...I can see your dissatisfaction," he continued to joke. "Garandil's boys are no more attractive than the average sapling. But you are looking at the wrong squad. What you need to look at is a real male elf squad." Ariane laughed merrily. "What I am serious!"

She laughed even harder. Haldir could not help but join in her merriment. The two elves then calmed and stood in silence once more.

"Ready to head home?" he asked sadly, noticing her leather carry bags packed on her bed inside the guesthouse.

"Aye." Ariane sighed, sharing his sorrow. "I am going to miss you."

"And I you."

"Have you heard anything of the whereabouts of your scouts Andaril and Laphos in the North?"

"Nay, and something deeply troubles me about their disappearance," Haldir expressed in concern. His brow then furrowed. "It seems too...obvious."

"What does exactly?"

"Andaril. His behaviour has been most peculiar since he had returned from the East," Haldir contemplated. "He has been my scouting companion since I joined the Sentinel Elite, and yet since he returned from the borders of Mirkwood on assignment, he seemed quite distant towards me. Maybe even hostile."

"Hostile? Andaril? But he has been so kind to us of Rivendell since we have arrived," Ariane pointed out.

"Yes, especially to you and Lady Celebrìan," Haldir said, his tone worried. "Something troubles me with his swing in attitude, but it is probably nothing." Haldir then concluded, shaking his head.

"You are not known to get overly worried over nothing, Haldir. Maybe you should consult Lord Celeborn and Lady Galadriel on the matter," Ariane suggested.

"I would, but with Lady Galadriel feeling ill, I would rather not. Which is another thing that is worrying me," Haldir expressed. "There is something wrong with this whole picture, Ariane. Andaril and Laphos' bodies are nowhere to be found on the shores of the Anduin, Nimrodel or Celebrant and we have even checked as far West as the Dimrill Dale and found nothing. Lady Galadriel has had a shadow cast over her since the return of her daughter, her condition getting marginally worst. And what is troubling me about it is that no elf elder has seemed to notice anything wrong."

"Maybe because they trust Lady Galadriel's judgement on things," Ariane concluded. "She is the fairest and wisest of elves, but if she has been ill then it is odd that the elders of Lorien dismiss it so quickly," Ariane began to share her friend's worry. "It was probably a wise choice that Captain Pherinil suggested the entourage travel back through Caradhras, arriving a day earlier home, instead of the Old Forest Road," Ariane said, her tone cautious. "But even then..."

"Yes, but even that decision worries me as Captain Pherinil was also another from the assignment in the East," Haldir finished off.

At that moment, both elves heard unfamiliar footsteps approach them from behind. Turning, they came face to face with one of Galadriel's handmaidens.

"Lieutenant Haldir, my Lady Arvariane," the attractive fair-haired handmaiden bowed in respect.

"Eldasimilia," Haldir greeted brightly. "What can we do for you this fine morning?"

"Her highness, Lady Celebrìan, is ready to return to Imladris," Eldasimilia replied, using the Elven name for Rivendell. "She wishes Lady Arvariane to join her in the entrance hall as soon as she is able."

"Very well, Eldasimilia," Ariane acknowledged. "Please tell her ladyship that I will be there momentarily."

With another bow, Eldasimilia left the guesthouse, leaving the friends alone again. Ariane looked at Haldir again and smiled. "Did I tell you I am going to miss your company?"

"In so many words," Haldir replied, grinning. "I am going to miss yours. There will be no one around to pick fun at anymore and that is tragic."

Ariane laughed. "Come on Sentinel of the Golden Wood. Help me carry my things down to the entrance hall so I can escape your jesting once and for all." Ariane then went to pick up one of her two carry bags that were lying on her bed.

"You know for a female," Haldir began, as he reached for the other carry bag, "you do not..."

The moment Haldir picked up her bag, he was automatically pulled down by the weight of it.

"Oomph!" Haldir grimaced. "What in the name of the Undying lands do you have in here? How is a horse even supposed to carry this?" he complained, as he lifted the heavy bag with two arms.

"Stop being a weakling. I have another volume in my bag." Ariane held her bag up and shook it, giving away the heavy weight of the content inside. "It is a volume of the Akallabeth, Lord Celeborn and Lady Galadriel gave me. They said it would be good reading and study."

"Is that all you do, study?"

"Haldir, you know perfectly well my father is Lord Elrond's military advisor and he wants me to study warfare and tactics."

"Hmm...I sometimes wonder whether you were truly born female," Haldir insulted, playfully.

"I wonder the same about you too, my male friend," Ariane replied, referring to his whinge about the heaviness of the bag.

Haldir lifted an eyebrow, rethinking his earlier statements. "I take what I said back." He then hauled up the carry bag over his shoulder.

Ariane smiled, knowing that she would truly miss this misbehaviour. "Then escort me down to the entrance hall, Haldir."

"As you wish, my lady," Haldir obeyed, offering his arm. "I definitely know I will miss your sarcasm."

Ariane took his arm and the two friends walked out of the guesthouse, navigating their way through the paths of Lorien, towards the entrance hall, where the party of Rivendell were awaiting for their final farewells to Caras Galadhon.

****

Afternoon, The Redhorn Pass, Misty Mountains

Blanketed with a light cover of soft snow as which is typical of springtime in the Misty Mountains, the entourage of Rivendell, approached the beginning of the Redhorn Pass. Too difficult to ride on horseback, Lady Celebrìan, Ariane and ten guardians, 5 of Rivendell and 5 of Lorien, dismounted from their horses and prepared to hike through the mountain's narrow corridor of Caradhras.

"It will take two days to get to the other side of Caradhras, but hopefully it will be a lot safer than taking the open road past Dol Guldur," Menel, leader of the five guardians of Lorien ordered to escort Lady Celebrìan from Caras Galadhon, assured.

"As long as we can survive the nights, we should be all right," Varyarsere, a captain of the Rivendell guard, added. "Come let us press forward. Lady Celebrìan and Lady Arvariane. Are you both prepared with warm cloaks and rations?"

Lady Celebrìan looked at her daughter's best friend. Ariane nodded. "Yes, captain. We are ready," Lady Celebrìan answered.

"Excellent. Guardians of Lorien, would you take the lead?"

"Aye, captain." Menel acknowledged. "Guardians of Lorien, forward of the entourage."

The five guardians of Lorien then moved forward and in a single file, with Lady Celebrìan and Ariane in the middle, the entourage began the difficult journey through the Misty Mountains, unaware of the dangers ahead of them.

****

Dawn, two days later, the Eastern Pass of Lothlorien

The air was still cold as the sun rose in the eastern horizon of Middle-Earth. A tall, handsome and solidly built elf stood perched stealthily amongst the tall leafy trees of Lothlorien forest. Wearing a black jerkin, with silver embroidery of the Servant of Galadriel, under light armour, covered with the grey vest and chameleon cloak of Lothlorien, several other elves too were standing in the trees above, their bows knocked and ready to fire, blending into the woodland tree tops.

Given his first command of a Sentinel squad the moment he arrived back from Rivendell, Haldir's piercing blue eyes spotted what they were looking for entering the forest. Even though he was still young, Haldir had shown exceptional skill above all other elves. A strong leader, no one had ever questioned Lord Celeborn or Lady Galadriel's decision to grant Haldir his first Sentinel squad of Lothlorien.

A small band of Easterling soldiers, armed in leather armour, helmets and carrying swords and crossbows entered a clearing in the forest. Haldir's sentinels had been following this band from the moment they crossed the Field of Celebrant in the south, two days before. After much debate on when to strike the small company of the enemy, the Sentinels set up an ambush along one of the obscure paths, only the elves of Lorien knew, but the Easterlings were taking into the east, towards their fair city Caras Galadhon. Haldir became worried about their sudden knowledge of this path, but pushed away the thought and focused on ending the enemy's life.

Warily looking above and below them, the archers of the evil company, wielding crossbows aimed wherever they looked, knowing that there would be the presence of elves around.

Haldir looked at his trap specialist, Oiovenya, and nodded. Oiovenya released a latch holding a pile of rocks amongst the trees. The rocks fell from the treetops with a huge `thump' behind the band. In an instant, the arrows from the Easterling Company came flying in the direction of where the rocks had fallen. Realising that it was just rocks, the entire Company was thrown.

"I told you it was a trap!" one of the two Easterling commanders shouted. "Spread out!!"

But it was too late. At that moment, Haldir had whistled his signal to attack, at the same time releasing his arrow. Arrows from his 15-elf squad had rained onto the Easterling Company of 25, hitting their marks. With only ten of the enemy left running the way they came, including one commander, the elves aimed again and again hit their marks. The entire Elven squad of Lorien came down from the treetops and began slaying the surviving enemy soldiers with their swords. The battle was over before it began, as the Elves of Lorien finished off the last of the remaining enemy soldiers.

Haldir walked amongst the dead foes with his second in command close behind, surveying the massacre.

"This is strange," Haldir said to his second in command, Varno. "Easterlings do not know of this Eastern Pass to Caras Galadhon, yet come this close to Lorien. How could they have gotten through our sentry lines before and found it?"

"It worries me too, sir. If anything, only a Lorien elf knows of this pass. How the Easterlings came to know of it, is beyond me," Varno expressed his concern.

"Commander!" a cry came from the woods.

Haldir and Varno both ran to the origin of the call and found the elves, Sirduril and Alcair, standing over one of the Easterling commanders that ran, their bows aimed at his chest. But it was not an Easterling commander, but one of Haldir's scouters sent out a week ago, Andaril, dressed in the uniform of the Easterling, his helmet thrown off, an arrow sticking out from his knee and through his chest. So that is where you have been all this time, traitor! I should have guessed. Laphos is probably in the same bind.

"Andaril! What is the meaning of this!" Haldir's voice boomed, as he looked upon his former scout, his face straight a composed, but his eyes building with rage. "Why have you aligned yourself with this evil!"

Andaril smirked widely. "Because only the strong commander knows what is coming!"

"Strong? You are weak if you think that siding with the enemy is strong," Haldir said, his voice becoming more hostile.

"Really? Then if you are so strong, why have you neglected the fact that Captain Pherinil suggested Caradhras is a safer path?" Andaril laughed menacingly at the same time coughing up blood from his lungs.

"Captain Pherinil?" Haldir for a split second looked confused, but then the sudden realisation came to him of what Andaril was talking about. The Entourage of Rivendell! His mind shouted at him as if he had just been hit. Lady Celebrìan and Ariane! Eyes widening in a fit of rage, Haldir crouched down and grabbed Andaril by the collar of the leather armour, bringing him closer to his enemy's face.

"What do you know of the Entourage of Rivendell? What does Captain Pherinil have to do with this?" Haldir asked menacingly, his jaw clenched trying to control himself. Andaril's evil laugh sounded again. "Tell me!"

"May their bones gleam under the cover of darkness!" Andaril jeered.

That took the last strand of Haldir's patience. Like lightning, Haldir had drawn the arrow from his former scouts chest and plunged the arrowhead deep into his shoulder, near his heart. Andaril cried at the top of his lungs trying his hardest to stop Haldir from ramming it further into his shoulder, gurgling and struggling to pull the arrow out of him but the sentinel was too strong.

"I can very well end you, Andaril, but that is too easy," Haldir scowled. Haldir then slowly twisted the arrowhead inside Andaril's wound as his former scout let out cries of pain. "Instead, I am going to make you suffer until your spirit accepts hell as its final destination! Now where is the Entourage of Rivendell!"

"Auta miqula orqu (Go Kiss an ORC)!" Andaril smiled weakly, then grabbing Haldir's hand so tightly, even Haldir was surprised that his former scout had strength left in him.

Andaril then withdrew the arrow from his shoulder and used Haldir's hand as an extra force to plunge the arrowhead through his heart, killing himself. Haldir watched as what life was left in Andaril's eyes fade. Letting his former comrade fall to the ground, Haldir quickly stood and turned to his second in command.

"Varno, gather the squad," Haldir ordered. "We have to return to Caras Galadhon, now!"

****

Caras Galadhon

The high Caras Galadhon guesthouse was situated beside the main quarters of the Lord and Lady of the Golden Woods. Linked by a bridge from the main terrace of the guesthouse to the main tower, the guesthouse was large and opened up into a lounge and various bedrooms. A well-built, elegant form stood tall on the terrace of the high Lorien guesthouse, looking out over the city.

The night before, the House of Thranduil that visited Rivendell had arrived from the West via the River Nimrodel, before they would then depart after a few days for their home in North Mirkwood. Lord Celeborn and Lady Galadriel greeted King Thranduil, his son, Legolas, and their party warmly, before they were assigned to guesthouses and settled in for the night.

But the Prince of Mirkwood did not sleep well that night, always waking up as if something was warning him. He felt some sort of disturbance, a calling, as if he was needed. It got to the stage where Legolas could no longer sleep, but instead ponder quietly on the terrace of his guesthouse that dawn, holding his chin deep in thought. It is odd I feel this strange apprehension in the air, he thought profoundly. No one else seems to sense this fear. Even Lady Galadriel did not seem troubled by it, or else she would have mentioned it to my father and she is the most insightful of the elves. The morning had started like any other day in Lorien, except this time he felt a disturbance in the environment. The thought of Ariane then crossed his mind and a small smile crossed his face. I wonder whether she is all right...

Suddenly an outcry came from the woods. Looking to where the cry came from, Legolas spotted his childhood friend, Haldir, emerge from the forest with a squad of 15 sentinels, and approach the main tower that housed the Lord and Lady of the Golden Wood and the guesthouse his father, King Thranduil. An anxious look was spread across Haldir's face as he entered the abode and that prompted Legolas to start across the bridge that led from his guesthouse to the main tower.

Arriving, he found Lord Celeborn, Lady Galadriel, his father and several handmaidens, already dressed in their day attire, about to eat their breakfast, when Legolas had entered the dining room.

"My son! You are up early, today?" King Thranduil greeted.

"Good morning, father, Lord Celeborn, Lady Galadriel," Legolas greeted quickly. He then turned to Lady Galadriel in respect of her latest ailing. "Are you feeling better this morning, Lady Galadriel?"

"I am actually feeling a little weaker," she responded, softly. "But do not worry. I should be getting better soon. Although in the last few weeks I have not been able to perceive things well."

At that moment, a male guardian had entered the room and spoke to Lord Celeborn. "Sentinel Lieutenant Haldir requests an audience with you, your majesties," he spoke softly.

"I thought Haldir was supposed to guard the Eastern Pass this morn?" Lord Celeborn inquired of his soldier.

"He says he bears urgent news," the guardian spoke quickly.

"Urgent news?" Lord Celeborn looked at his wife in self-assurance. Lady Galadriel acknowledged her husband's response, smiling calmly. "Very well, bring Haldir in Colindo," Lord Celeborn ordered gently his guardian. Bowing the guardian rushed out. "It is quite unusual this early in the morning to receive news of events of," Lord Celeborn commented on the unexpected message. "I wonder what has brought this on?"

"Haldir is an exceptional Sentinel, my love," Lady Galadriel spoke softly, her voice clearly affected by her illness. "He would not request an audience with us if it were not important."

Lord Celeborn nodded his head in agreement. "Legolas, Son of Thranduil, why stand when you can sit? Join us for breakfast."

"I am afraid I will have to decline for now, your majesty," Legolas apologised. "I would like to see what my friend Haldir has to say first."

"You majesties, Sentinel Lieutenant Haldir of Lorien!" Colindo announced.

Haldir entered the dining room, dressed the attire of the Sentinel of the Golden Wood, his bow hanging off his back and his glaive sheathed on his belt. Saluting Lord Celeborn and Lady Galadriel, by bowing his head and kissing his clenched, then clasping it to his heart, Haldir's face had an insistent, yet grim expression.

"Your majesties Lord and Lady of the Wood, King Thranduil, Prince Legolas," Haldir acknowledged the royals present. "I bear most dire news that needs attention immediately above all else."

"What is this dire news, Haldir?" Lord Celeborn prompted.

"It is about your daughter, her highness, Lady Celebrìan and the entourage of Rivendell," Haldir told.

Legolas' glared at his friend. Ariane! Haldir saw his concern and nodded slightly confirming it.

"What is the matter?" Lord Celeborn asked quickly.

"Earlier this morning we attacked a band of Easterlings trying to make their way into Caras Galadhon through the Willowphane pass in the East. One of them was the missing scout Andaril," Haldir informed.

Gasps went through the room like wildfire. King Thranduil looked at his hosts. The Lord and Lady stood stone faced as Lord Celeborn hushed them.

"What is it of our daughter and her entourage?" Lady Galadriel asked her voice quavering.

Haldir swallowed. "We have reason to believe, the advice to go back to Rivendell through Caradhras is false. That your daughter and the entourage of Rivendell have been waylaid."

"How can you be sure?" Lord Celeborn asked calmly, but his eyes showing much more.

"Andaril, the conspirator, confirmed this information before I ran an arrowhead through his black heart," Haldir informed, coolly. "Truth be known, I also believe Captain Pherinil is involved."

At that moment was the first time any elf had seen Lord Celeborn and Lady Galadriel lose their calm composure. "Colindo! Get Captain Pherinil in here now!"

"But my lord, he is out with his men training in the Northern Pass..."Colindo began.

"Get his treacherous hide back here NOW!" Lord Celeborn exploded.

Colindo bowed quickly, then rushing out of the room to order one of the Captains of the Lorien garrison back from training. Lord Celeborn, realising his sudden outburst, calmed and receded back to his seat.

"I cannot believe I did not see," Lady Galadriel whispered softly. "A dark mask has been cast over my eyes." Lady Galadriel began to shake.

"It is all right, my love," Lord Celeborn put a comforting arm around his wife's shoulders. "You have been ill. We will find these treacherous serpents and bring them hell." Lord Celeborn then turned to his Sentinel. "Haldir, send the fastest messenger with all haste to Rivendell to alert Lord Elrond of this treachery. Then gather a squad of the five best wood elves available in Lorien. I request for all of you to find my daughter and her entourage. Find out what has become of them and if at all possible, save them."

"Yes my Lord Celeborn," Haldir accepted the command. He then glanced at Legolas. "I believe I have found one of the five best wood elves available standing right here."

Lord Celeborn and King Thranduil looked at the Prince of Mirkwood. Legolas glimpsed at his father looking for approval. King Thranduil furrowed his brow, but then nodded.

"My son would be the perfect candidate," King Thranduil agreed.

Legolas grinned slightly. "Thank you father for your approval." Legolas then turned to his friend. "We should head off now."

"Agreed. Lord Celeborn, I would also ask the assistance of your grandsons, Elladan and Elrohir. They are most proficient in stealth and are much more experienced in tracking than myself and Prince Legolas."

"Our grandsons have just come of age," Lord Celeborn consulted his wife. "Maybe this will be a good test for them to undertake."

"I do not feel right about the outcome of this my love," Lady Galadriel expressed her concern. "But I do believe the twins should go and rescue their mother."

"Very well. Let the messenger know of the request of our grandsons in this matter," Lord Celeborn agreed with his lieutenant.

"Yes, my lord. Legolas, I will meet you in the stables in ten minutes," Haldir instructed."

"I will be there," Legolas bowed to the Lord and Lady of the Wood and his father. "Your majesties."

Legolas then left the dining room through the connecting bridge way. Haldir did the same and left the dining room quickly, rushing down the stairwell the moment he got the chance.

****

Afternoon, the next day, House of Healing, Rivendell

That afternoon was an unusual one. The sun had turned a blood red through out the course of the day and the Lord of Rivendell was getting anxious of his wife's return. Even though she was not meant to return until two days from now, a warning crept into Lord Elrond's heart the more he thought about his wife's safety and safety of the entourage.

"Ow! Ow! Ow! Ow! Ow!" the voice of his son, Elrohir whined from behind.

Turning Lord Elrond saw his eldest son, Elladan, and Figwit, Rivendell's most talented healer, carry his youngest son, Elrohir, in by the shoulders, wet, and set him down on one of the healing beds.

"What by the heavens happened?" Lord Elrond asked of his eldest. "Were you both not supposed to be out scouting the southern rim?"

Elrohir looked annoyed at his elder brother. "We were, but Elladan did not warn me of the unstable pass across Bruinen."

"Hey, do not blame this on me. You were the one wanting to take the more dangerous trail across Loudwater," Elladan retorted, using the human name for the vast river. "Luckily I did not follow you or else I would be in the same bind."

Lord Elrond shook his head in dismay as his sons argued. They had just come of age for a Noldorian elf two weeks before and already come across their first challenge of humility.
Since they were born, Lord Elrond had trained both his sons in the art of forest warding. Using exceptional skill, the twins had grown into excellent rangers and could track anything to anywhere without a trouble. Along with Elrond's youngest daughter, Arwen Evenstar, they also learned basic healing techniques and horseback riding.

"Boys!" Lord Elrond commanded firmly, as he put one hand on each of his son's shoulders. "Stop squabbling. There will be a lot of time for that later. Figwit, are you able to heal my son?"

"Well, I believe it is just a broken leg so it should not be too difficult," Figwit concluded. "However...it is up to him how much discomfort he wants to go through?"

"Inflict the harshest of pain, Figwit," Elladan egged on. "Teach him to observe before crossing."

Elrohir glared at his brother. "Do not listen to the sadist. He is as wise as ass. He is lucky that I always get the back lash to his pains and do not whinge about it."

"Back lash!?"

"Yes, I always seem to be the one getting injured for your imperfections," Elrohir mentioned. "Remember when we were sparring with Ariane? Who hit me in the ribs? Luckily I was wearing armour."

"Will you two stop your bickering," Figwit scolded softly, as he held both his hands over Elrohir's leg. "I am going to heal you by the prayer of Este. It will hurt a little, but I think you are old enough to handled a little bit of pain," Figwit informed, annoyed at his friend's squabbling.

Figwit then began to chant the healing spell of Este. Lord Elrond watched over the young healer as he performed the chant. A warm glow illuminated from Figwit's hands and Elrohir grimaced slightly at the stinging he was getting from it.

"I am sorry brother for being unobservant of you covering for me," Elladan apologised as he thought of several other times in the past his younger brother had suffered because of him. "But you should also be more careful when you are out in the forest. There are a lot of deceitful environments out there."

"Aye. But think nothing of it, brother," replied Elrohir, cringing in pain as Figwit healed him.

After a few minutes, Figwit removed his hands and Lord Elrond smiled at the young elf's talent in executing the healing spell.

"Figwit, I imagine you will become the greatest healer in the West one day," Lord Elrond complimented.

"Thank you, my lord," Figwit bowed his head in respect.

Elladan helped his brother to stand back up. Elrohir leaned on his brother's shoulder.

"He is already the greatest healer in the West," Elrohir agreed, as he began to bend his injured knee. Moving it about a bit more, Elrohir should have been screaming in pain, but wasn't. "It has already been healed perfectly back to normal. No pain or soreness."

Lord Elrond bent down to examine his son's knee. He then looked at Figwit in admiration. "I believe you are right, my son."

Figwit smiled shyly. A sudden cry came from outside. Lord Elrond immediately made his way out to the foyer of the House of Healing and was greeted by Lord Erestor and a messenger wearing and bearing the colours and emblem of Lothlorien.

"My Lord Elrond, there is some news," Lord Erestor said quickly. "About you wife and her entourage."

"Celebrìan? What news?" Lord Elrond insisted, sensing the uneasiness in the air. "What has happened?"

"My Lord Elrond, I am Scout of Lorien Dinros and I have travelled non-stop via the Old Forest Road from Lothlorien under the command of the Lord and Lady of the Golden Wood since yesterday morning," the messenger introduced himself quickly. "We have reason to believe that the returning entourage of Rivendell has been ambushed in the Misty Mountains."

"Misty Mountains? My wife is returning from the north east via the Old Forest Road," Lord Elrond corrected.

"Nay, my lord. Last minute changes in plans led to this deceit and has unfortunately resulted in this treacherous trap," Dinros said.

Lord Elrond for a moment stood motionless, still trying to take in the information he had just heard. That is unlike Celebrìan to make last minute changes, unless it was for the better he thought. This warning in my heart...A sudden rage began to boil up inside him.

"Who made these last minute changes?" Lord Elrond asked Dinros, his voice strained to control his temper.

"One of our captains. He suggested the change and that the entourage take the path through Caradhras on the basis of too much bandit activity in the North," Dinros explained. "Unfortunately, the captain was found to be a traitor, as with two others."

"Galadriel did not sense this?" Lord Erestor asked quickly. "I am surprised."

"A shadow has been cast over her Ladyship's eyes as of late. She has been ill," Dinros said in Lady Galadriel's defence.

"Then a search party must be sent out immediately," Lord Erestor suggested.

"One has already left the Forests of Lothlorien. Sentinel Haldir of Lorien and his highness, Prince Legolas of Mirkwood volunteered to look for them in the Misty Mountains. They take with them three elf guardians," Dinros confirmed.

"Father, what is happening out here?" Elladan's voice came from behind.

Lord Elrond turned to find his sons and Figwit, standing tall, looks of concern on their faces. My sons, the two finest rangers and Figwit, the talented healer he contemplated.

"Elrohir how is your leg?" Lord Elrond asked promptly.

"All right, just tingly," Elrohir answered. He next noticed his father's hurried face. "What is the matter father?"

"Dinros? Do you know where in the Misty Mountains the party from Lothlorien are looking?" Lord Elrond turned back to Dinros.

"Redhorn Pass, my lord."

"Good." Lord Elrond turned back to his sons and Figwit, who all had puzzled looks. "Elladan and Elrohir, your mother has been waylaid. I command you both and Figwit to go with the messenger, Dinros, into the Redhorn pass and join up with the search party from Lothlorien," Lord Elrond ordered his sons firmly. "Erestor, do you believe we can get aid from the Dwarves of Khazad-dum?"

"My Lord Elrond, it is possible but you know my stance on the matter of dwarves," Lord Erestor said in a sour manner. "They are selfish little beings that take from the earth and give nothing return, let alone help anyone else but themselves."

"The entourage of Rivendell has been ambushed?" Elrohir said, alarmed. "Mother and Ariane?"

"Aye. We have no knowledge of their whereabouts yet, but I am sure that Haldir of Lorien and the Prince of Mirkwood will find them. I just want to be extra sure by sending the two best rangers and healer along as well," Lord Elrond explained his reasons.

"How many in the entourage?" Figwit quickly asked. "When they left the last time there were seven."

"Twelve, including her highness, Celebrìan and Lady Arvariane Estel," Dinros answered. "They left Lorien three days ago."

"Then we must not tarry," Lord Elrond said. "Lord Erestor, please notify Lord Glorfindel of his daughter's waylay." He then turned to his sons and their friend. "You three quickly get equipped and ready to move within the hour. I want you all to be well on your way to Caradhras before evening."

"Yes, father," Elladan acknowledged, before he, Elrohir and Figwit followed Dinros to the stables to prepare for a search and rescue for their mother and their captive kin.

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