Starry Twilight - Chapter 8 - Troubled times
I'm providing the links to both Starry Twilight and Heart of Earth, Heart of Stone, in case you wish to read the points of view of all the characters. (And I'm trying to get people to read both ) Thus far I am still trying to make both stories stand completely on their own, even if they overlap. (Like Ender's Game and Ender's Shadow) Those who are reading both, let me know if it gets too repetitive. I'm going to keep to the POV's of the brothers and Tinel in this story, and the other POV's in the other story, so hopefully they will complement and expand on each other without getting boring.
Grinning widely, Elrohir strode forward, calling out, "As indeed you should hope my friend!" He continued forward to encompass Legolas in a hearty hug, which the other Elf returned in full measure.
Elladan proceeded more slowly, and took time to observe each of their unexpected visitors. Gimli the dwarf rode a proud looking gelding, and carried a bundle in his arms. Gimli's presence was no surprise as he and Legolas had been nearly constant companions since the war. But upon closer inspection, Elladan realized that the bundle was a baby! What was that taciturn dwarf doing with an infant?
Elladan looked next at the third companion, another very familiar face. Haldir's presence was a shock, as he had left Middle Earth even before the Ringbearers. Finally Elladan's eyes strayed to the final figure, meeting a pair of grey eyes that filled him with shock.
It was as though he had been transported back in time, and confronted with his best friend as he had been before time and care had lined his face. This young man, so strong and confident, was the exact image of Elessar when he was still Estel, before Elrond had sent him to become a Ranger.
Elladan could hardly have been hit so hard had Arwen also entered. He shook away his bemusement. Estel was no more, Elessar had gone the way of all mortals, according to the Doom of Mandos.
This must be Eldarion's younger sone, Eldacar, for the elder was fair, with the appearance of his Rohirrim mother. Elladan had never met Eldacar, though he had seen Valacar earlier this year, when they had discovered the death of Elessar. Eldacar had not been there, he had gone with Arwen, wherever she had gone. This was a chance to discover what had happened to her, though Elladan already knew she was dead. His heart had told it him as soon as they had ridden through the great gates of Gondor that last time.
"You are my nephew Eldacar, are you not?" Elladan asked quietly.
"Yes, and you are my uncle Elladan. I have come seeking your aid," was the terse reply. Elladan smiled to himself, just so had Estel acted when forced to ask for help when he was younger. Though, Elladan corrected himself, actually there was a little more seriousness about Eldacar than there had been when Estel had looked like this. His eyes were more as Aragorn's had been once he discovered that he was heir to the Throne of Gondor, and he had seen more than a few years of trial as a Ranger.
"We will give what aid we can," he promised, "But what is the trouble that you must needs come here rather than seeking aid of your people. Is aught wrong with your father?"
Elladan saw the bleakness in his nephew's eyes even before he answered, and his stomach clenched. Imladris was not the only place to be attacked.
"My father and brother are both dead," Eldacar said, confirming Elladan's fears.
"Was it orcs?" he asked swiftly, but Eldacar shook his head.
"The Haradrim, they came suddenly, straight to Minas Tirith. There was no stopping them."
Gondor fallen? Surely it can't be! Elladan thought in shock. He had thought the hostilities between Gondor and Harad were nearing an end. How could they turn wrong so quickly? But he knew the answer, the same way the orcs could gather without anyone being aware. There was a new Enemy to face. Perhaps even worse than Sauron.
He noticed that no one save Elrohir and himself seemed surprised at Eldacar's news.
"Legolas, you knew of these events?" Elladan asked.
"Yes, Yavanna told us," he paused, "when she sent us back."
Eldacar looked up hopefully, "You mean the Valar sent you back to help us?"
"They sent us back to find who is behind that, and who is behind all of this," Legolas gestured at the wreckage around them. "And they sent us to stop him."
Elrohir felt the excitement building within him. Here was another adventure, one in which they could play a large part. It was for this that he had remained in Middle Earth. He had known it would happen.
"Let us head back to the cavern," Elladan said. "Tinel will most likely be waiting for us there by now. And it will be better than remaining in these surroundings."
Elrohir was almost surprised to find the smouldering remains of Rivendell were still there. His mind had already flown far away, into the fields of Gondor, preparing to battle all who would stand against him. There was little hope that so small a group could stand against all the Haradrim armies, and probably the Easterlings as well, but it would be very good to try.
"We cannot leave just yet!" Gimli protested, and Elrohir looked at him in surprise. Surely the dwarf did not wish to remain here. The sight of all this craftsmanship damaged should be painful to his dwarvish pride. But what was this? Gimli was holding a baby? What a sight!
"Are you turning midwife on us son of Gloin?" Elrohir teased. The glare which Gimli sent him ought by rights to have ended his life. It made it all worth it.
"Jaessa will be meeting us here!" Gimli continued, choosing to ignore Elrohir's grin.
"She will be able to find us," Legolas replied. She would not wish to linger here either. Whatever sent her rushing off, she will return shortly."
So it was decided that they would continue. They marched up the hill towards the waterfall.
"Elladan, Elrohir! Come down!" Tinel's beloved voice called, just as they came into view. Elrohir grinned broadly and called out to her in response.
"Wrong direction love, we're more down than you are!" Just as the words left his lips he noticed the lady standing next to her. They were facing the waterfall, so all Elrohir could see was a long dark braid hanging down to her waist.
But this was enough to cause his heart to stop painfully. Could it be? Had Arwen come now, when their home was destroyed, and he had finally consented to leave? He stepped forward impulsively, ready to run and catch her up in his arms.
No. He stopped. The lady who now turned around did not have Arwen's clear blue eyes, but eyes of silvery grey. She was not even Elven.
His heart constricted with disappointment. How he longed to have Arwen at his side again, to see both the Morning Twilight and the Evenstar with him again. Was he deluding himself by continuing to hope? Should he let go? Could Arwen really be gone forever, and he did not sense it?
No, as he had said to Legolas, of course he should continue to hope. Hope was all there was left in this world. Hope was what had kept him here so long. If he gave up hope, his existence this last century would have been without purpose, and he could not accept that.
Tinel had sprinted down the mountain, and thrown herself into Haldir's arms, greeting him enthusiastically. Haldir looked very uncomfortable, and Tinel grinned mischievously. She knew that he was not partial to her displays of emotion the same way his brothers were. Elrohir looked at the other lady, who was now walking serenely down the mountain, more closely. This must be the lady that Gimli had wanted to remain in Imladris to wait for. There was something familiar about her features.
"Elladan, Elrohir, this is Jaessa, though I am certain Haldir or Legolas has already mentioned her." Tinel said, laying a hand on Jaessa's arm as she joined the group.
"Actually, it was Gimli who mentioned her," Elladan said, moving to take Jaessa's hand, surprising Elrohir, for it was unlike Elladan to make so flirtatious a move upon first meeting someone.
"It is an honor to meet you,"Elladan continued.
"Well, we have all been introduced," Tinel said, turning to Eldacar, "Except you." She turned to Jaessa expectantly, but as Jaessa obviously did not know him either, Elladan answered.
"This is Eldacar, Tinel."
"Eldarion's youngest?" she said, again incredulous, "Here? How is your father? And your brother? The kingship was sitting well upon Eldarion when last we were there."
"I am sorry to bring you tidings that my father and brother are both dead." Eldacar said, and Tinel gasped in horror.
"I am sorry for your loss. It is a hard thing to lose a family member. You must have loved your father," Jaessa said softly, looking at Eldacar intently.
"I am sorry that he is gone," Eldacar said, "He was a good king."
Elrohir's eyebrows rose at this. Hardly the response of a loving son. But, thinking back to Eldarion, Elrohir was not truly surprised. He had been the most dedicated to duty of anyone Elrohir had met. There was little room in his life for any true family ties. This must have continued.
"What people is it that have invaded Gondor?" Jaessa asked, seemingly quite suddenly. Her tone was brusque and business-like, her face calm and serene.
"It is the Haradrim," he turned his gaze to Legolas, "I don't know if you recall, but my grandfather sent a peace envoy to them just before his death. Those men returned full of hope for peace, and assurances of good will from the Southron King. He claimed to wish for an end to the generations of strife that came about due to Sauron the Deceiver. My brother went to arrange the treaty. They sent back an emissary with his head. The army followed the following morning."