The elf lookout jumped down from his post, ran down a flight of steps, across a small bridge, and poked his head into the room. “Arwen returns!” he said, “and bearing a Halfling, if my eyes are correct.”
“Is that so?” Elrond growled, looking up from his thick book, entitled “Rings of Power and How To Hide Them From Dark Lords“.
“Indeed, carrying it in front of her, but rather like a sack of flour.”
“Interesting,” Elrond said, placing a bookmark at his place and setting the book down on his desk. “So, I trust the whole water-swooshing-down-carrying-away-the-Ringwraiths worked according to plan.”
“Yes, sir,” the Elf said. “Indeed, above and beyond. The water even looked like white horses and riders as it washed them away.”
Elrond slammed his fist against the table. “Darn that wizard! Always tries to outdo me!”
“I think the Halfling’s sick,” the Elf said.
“Sick?” Elrond looked up, he was scribbling angrily in his diary, in large block letters: I HATE WIZARDS!
“Yessir. Even though they are still a good distance away, he looks extremely pale and sweat-covered.”
“Given the way my daughter rides, it’s not like that’s surprising,” Elrond grumbled. “Well, better be safe than sorry. Go set up a bed and get out my instruments. With my luck, he’s probably been stabbed by a Morgul-blade. And I was just getting to the good part of my book, too!”
The Elf bowed and hurried out.
Thirty minutes later, the operating room was crowded with people: Elrond, stethoscope around his neck, was bent over the still form of the Hobbit Frodo Baggins, who was well out of it. Behind him, arranging bottles of medicine and knives upon a tray, was Arwen, who had shed her traveling clothes and was dressed in a white nurse’s uniform. Standing behind them was Gandalf and Aragorn, both looking concerned, and poking his head through their legs, trying to get a better view, was Sam. Merry and Pippin had been given swigs if miruvor and pushed into bed, but they couldn’t dissuade Sam.
“A Morgul-blade, eh?” Elrond said, pushing up the eyelid on Frodo’s eyes. “My words proved prophetic once again. Arwen, grab the bottle labeled `FOTR’.”
“What’s that stand for?” Sam asked nervously.
“Feeling Of The Rib,” Elrond pronounced carefully. “Considering how far the tip has traveled, it’s only about an inch away from his heart now, so we’re going to have to dig through his ribs. Dang, I wish I’d worked on some more Halflings and had some smaller tools. These are all too big. And while you’re at it, get the one labeled `TTT’.”
“TTT?” Sam asked nervously.
“Touching The Trachea,” Elrond, grabbing Frodo’s shirt and unbuttoning it. As he pulled it away, there was a clink and the One Ring fell off into the bedspread. Elrond reached for it, but just as he was about to pick it up Gandalf whacked him across the knuckles with his staff.
“OW!” Elrond yelled. “You wouldn’t break the hand of a minstrel before a song, would you?”
“No,” Gandalf admitted.
“They don’t hurt the hand of a skill surgeon, you nit! That pipeweed has all too obviously been corroding your brain.” Elrond rubbed his knuckles, glaring at the wizard.
Arwen stuck the needle of a syringe into a glass bottle, drawing green liquid into it. She stuck it in Frodo’s shoulder, an inch below the puncture, and injected it.
“What’s that?” Sam asked nervously.
“An antibiotic so he won’t get an infection,” Elrond growled, pulling a wicked-looking knife from the tray, as well as a file. He began sharpening the blade, making a horrible rasping sound.
“What’s that for?” Sam asked nervously.
“To cut him open,” Elrond said, grinning. “The sharper the better, you know. Don’t you have doctors in your quaint little `Shire’?”
“Well yes,” Sam admitted, “but I’ve never – ”
“Save it for the feast day, we’ve only got a couple hours left,” Elrond said. “Aragorn, what in the name of Iluvatar did you jam into this wound?”
“Athelas,” said the Ranger, a bit uncomfortably.
Elrond grabbed a pair of tweezers and jerked the small clump away from the wound. “I assume first you dropped it into hot water, sterilizing it?”
“No, I didn’t have time,” said Aragorn, even more uncomfortable. “I gave it a couple quick chews.”
“Chews!” The veins on Elrond’s forehead bulged outward. “So first you grab some Athelas out of a forest where any number of wild animals could’ve lifted their leg on it, then you chew it, and then you stuff it into the wound?”
“Something like that,” Aragorn said, loosening his collar.
“It’s a wonder he’s not dead already,” Elrond growled. Satisfied the knife was sharp enough, he traced with his fingers on a direct line from where the stab-wound was to Frodo’s heart. Stopping at roughly the right place, he cut quickly. Instead of blood oozing out, nothing happened at all.
“He’s not bleeding,” Aragorn pointed out.
“I know, he was stabbed by a Morgul-blade and he’s turning into a wraith. Do you think wraiths even have blood?”
Aragorn gulped and closed his mouth quickly. Elrond cut deeper, pushing random muscles away. Everyone peered over his shoulder, trying to get a look at Frodo’s vitals.
“Are you being careful?” Sam asked nervously.
“That DOES it!” Elrond roared. “Everyone GET OUT! Except Arwen and Aragorn, I’m going to talk to them.”
Gandalf nudged Sam out ahead of him, who went rather unwillingly. Gandalf carefully closed the door behind him.
“I swear, Estel, you had better keep your grimy hands off my daughter the entire time you stay here,” Elrond growled.
“Daddy — ” Arwen protested, but Elrond cut her off.
“I said King of Gondor and Arnor, and by the Balrogs of Morgoth I meant it! Arwen, please hold that candle just a little closer, all right? Estel, did you or did you not hear me?”
“I did,” Aragorn said.
“And that doesn’t mean you can just hold you hands behind your back,” Elrond continued, pushing aside some congealed blood and probing deeper into Frodo’s chest. “No loving glances, no kissing, no standing on a remote bridge exchanging necklaces and that sort of rot.”
“Shouldn’t you be using the A-type clamp?” Aragorn asked.
“I was doing this while Elendil was in diapers,” Elrond snarled. “I think I know how to do this. Arwen, hand me those tweezers, will you?”
Arwen handed him the tweezers, and Elrond poked them down the hole. He dug around for a moment, squeezed, the carefully lifted out a small chip of metal, about the size of a tooth. Arwen produced a metal cup and Elrond dropped it inside.
“Cool,” the would-be king said.
“Needle and horsehair,” Elrond said.
“Horsehair?” Aragorn asked.
“Horsehair is always better than a thread for sewing up people’s insides,” Elrond said. “Hold it. I taught you this stuff, why don’t you still know it?”
“Well, a lot of it was boring,” Aragorn admitted, swallowing hard. “I don’t remember much except the section on Athelas.”
Elrond groaned and massaged his temples. “Estel, the day will come when you may need to have this sort of knowledge? Why didn’t you study harder?”
“It was more fun to go off with Elladan and Elrohir and kill Orcs,” Aragorn said.
Muttering something under his breath, Elrond turned back and began carefully sewing up Frodo. It took about twenty-five hairs, but finally it was all closed up and done.
“Will he recover?” Sam asked nervously.
“How’d you get in here? I locked the door!”
Sam nodded over his shoulder at Bilbo, who was holding a key with a smirk on his face.
Elrond rolled his eyes and got up to wash his hands. “I don’t know. With a little luck, he’ll wake up in two to three days pretty much all right. But the wound will never fully heal, he will carry it the rest of his life. Which, considering the danger all around us, won’t be very long.” Elrond poured himself a glass of mead and downed it in one gulp. He poured himself another.
“He still looks very pale,” Sam said nervously.
“Arwen, pour some liquid from the bottle labeled `ROTK’ down his throat,” Elrond commanded, starting on his third glass.
“What’s `ROTK’ stand for?” Sam asked nervously.
“Return Of The Color,” Elrond said, swallowing. “Put some of the redness back in his cheeks.”
Arwen forced some liquid down Frodo’s throat. Almost immediately he began to look less pale.
“Hold on, `color’ is spelled with a K,” Sam pointed out.
“Do you speak Elvish in every mode that has ever been known on Middle-earth?” Elrond snapped.
“No,” Sam admitted.
“But I do,” Gandalf said, entering the room. “And `color’ is most certainly not spelled with a K.”
Elrond glared at all of them, and with a long gulp finished off his fourth glass of mead. He hiccupped. “I’m going to bed.” With a slam of the door, Elrond was gone.