Thicker than Blood - Chapter 11 - Surgery - The final operation begins.
By Ariel (email@example.com)
If you wish to read earlier chapters of this fic, please click on the links below.
Chapter 1 - http://www.theonering.com/docs/12538.html
Chapter 2 - http://www.theonering.com/docs/12619.html
Chapter 3 - http://www.theonering.com/docs/12725.html
Chapter 4 - http://www.theonering.com/docs/12849.html
Chapter 5 - http://www.theonering.com/docs/12977.html
Chapter 6 - http://www.theonering.com/docs/13091.html
Chapter 7 - http://www.theonering.com/docs/13391.html
Chapter 8 - http://www.theonering.com/docs/13491.html
Chapter 9 - http://www.theonering.com/docs/13582.html
Chapter 10 - http://www.theonering.com/docs/13695.html
Chapter 11 - Surgery - The final operation begins.
The light that had grown from elven fingers was fading, melting into Frodo's body from each elven hand. His trembling eased but he still wept and his face was still twisted in pain. Elrond's firm, clear voice joined his companions and the welling song strengthened and grew, filling the room even more with a palpable presence of power. A great fight had begun within the body of this one small hobbit and Sam hoped that his haggard master would not be torn apart in the process. Elrond grasped the front of Frodo's thin tunic and ripped it down, baring his pale, wasted torso and the bandaged shoulder. The bandage was dark with blood again, the same viscous stuff that had poured from the wound when it was first reopened. Elrond frowned and placed both hands back on Frodo's pale breast, forcing the elven song past his clenched lips with an obvious effort. The door to the room opened again and the elf that had left returned bearing the tray of knives. Strider and Gandalf followed him and the room, with its heavy, power-laden feel, grew close as the fair crowd gathered. Gandalf, staff in hand, took up a position by the head of Frodo's bed, opposite where Elrond sat and stood defensively by his small friend. His face was hardened and it looked to Sam as if he were prepared to do battle. Strider came to Elrond's side, glancing once with great pity upon the cluster of terrified hobbits behind him, before taking up his position near the bedside table; directly, Sam noted, between the box that held the ring and Frodo.
With a quick nod, Elrond indicated to the elf with the tray that he should place the knives on the bed stand and then snatched up a blade from the glittering array. He sliced through the now soaked bandages and flung them away so that they fell to the floor with a sickening splat. Frodo was bleeding again, profusely, but this time, Elrond did not even hesitate to slip his slim fingers inside the cut. He pushed at the tissues, ripping new bonds of scar tissue that had begun to form at the edges of the wound, and worked his slow way inside Frodo's body. Sam noticed, with sickened revulsion, the surface of Frodo's skin begin to swell and move as Elrond forced muscle and bone aside to reach inside the cavity. The shoulder and breast rolled like a sack that held some vile living thing inside it. Sam felt ill.
"It's here." Elrond pushed again, deeper and Frodo choked on a ragged indrawn breath. He gurgled and coughed sending forth a fine spray of blood from his mouth. The fair-haired elf that held the hobbit's head still gasped and his eyes looked about wildly, unseeing, his bright face taking on a sudden expression of terror.
"Cold!" He gasped in a small voice that did not seem to suit him. Sam thought the words sounded astonishingly like his master's voice. "The cold is here. I can't hold it back! It's come for me!" The elf grimaced; then, seeming to come to grips with himself again, shook his head and focused. "Hurry, my lord," he told Elrond using his own clear voice again.
Elrond grunted and pushed his hand deeper into Frodo's body, using his own fingers and brute strength to thrust aside Frodo's ribs. There, just inside a space between two of them, his fingers at last felt the cold, hardness of the blade tip. It wriggled at his fingertips like a living thing as it tried to burrow deeper into Frodo's body. One more push... Frodo's body rolled sickeningly to the side as Elrond shoved harder, but at last the elf lord seemed to have gotten hold of it. The coldness of the tiny sliver was agony to Elrond's bare hand, but he did not let it go. He pulled back and felt the thing move with him. It was coming, though it burned with aching, bitter cold. Slowly, so as not to lose it, Elrond withdrew his hand, the Morgul shard gripped tightly between his blood-covered forefingers. Frodo's wound gave a nauseating, sucking sound as it came forth and Elrond held up the deadly sliver.
Though it burned with cold, it smoked and Elrond dropped it onto the platter that another elf held forth. His hands and clothing were smeared with blood but he did not pause to wipe them. He focused all his will on the dark blade tip. A pool of light began to grow about the platter and the tiny thing smoked even more. The singing that had not stopped through the whole ordeal swelled strongly from the many elven throats present and the gold light flared bright. Sam found it too strong to look at and he turned away, but in the next instant, the light was gone, and with it, the sliver, leaving only a wisp of smoke hanging in the air. Elrond sagged, slipping from the edge of the bed to sit heavily on the floor. Sam looked to his master.
Frodo no longer trembled. In fact, he no longer moved at all.
His face had gone ashen white and his mouth gaped sickeningly. Flecks of red spattered his pale lips and still crescents of bright blue could be seen beneath his half closed lids. The open wound, finally bleeding something the color of normal blood, made stark contrast against his white skin and Sam could not suppress the impression that he was looking at a husk, the empty shell of something whose spark had fled. A blaze of fury erupted in Sam's stout heart and he rushed to Elrond, grasping the front of the weary elf's tunic.
"Now, you brute, you save my master!" He felt Strider's arm across his chest as the ranger pulled him back, but Elrond, startled out his near swoon, looked up at the hobbit and nodded.
"I will..." the elf lord gasped and stood, shakily, but unassisted. Sam was pushed back to where the other hobbits clustered and Pippin gripped his arm tightly. Merry had his arm around Bilbo's shoulders and looked as if he were all that was keeping the old hobbit on his feet. One of the other elves reached out and touched Elrond's shoulder supportively and the elf lord nodded. "We must," he continued and placed his bloodied hand over the gaping hole in Frodo's shoulder.
Once the shard had melted, the tone of the ever-present elven song had changed. It became at once more joyous and exuberant though its power remained. Elrond's voice joined the song again, although it quavered with fatigue. White light blazed instantly under the elf lord's hand now that there was no embattling dark to hinder it, and Sam saw the blood slow and the great dark rend in Frodo's shoulder begin to fuse. How long it took, Sam could not have told, for he stared at the process with wide-eyed wonder. This was high elf magic and the song and power of it filled his heart. The healing essence spread through the room, easing the minds and terror of all who watched. Frodo's whole body glowed now, not with a golden light as before, but with brilliant white like starlight that seemed to come from deep within him. The hobbits smelled sweet nectar and tasted clear freshness as the power surged through them all. Sam's heart grew light and hope swelled within him. The darkness and fear of the last few days lifted and fled. He felt boundless joy, the like of which he had never before experienced, surging through him. Surely even his master could feel this!
Triumphant specks of golden light drifted down like a fine mist to settle on Frodo's small body. They sparkled as they touched him and spread their warm glow over his still, weary form. It seemed the essences of both starlight and sunlight infused the ringbearer with their power. Relief and calm settled over the exhausted assemblage.
Frodo had been healed at last.
The light faded slowly and Elrond slumped. His companions lifted him gently and bore him away, their song softly fading as they left. Strider, his eyes wet with tears, touched Frodo's face and turned it towards the other hobbits. For the first time in many days, Sam saw peace in his features. It was not the peace of death, but of comfort and color that was not the flush of fever was starting to touch his fair cheek. Sam rushed to his master's side and knelt by the bed, weeping for joy.
TBC - in Burdened Again - where Sam must make the most difficult decision he has yet made in his life.