Anorien stared wordlessly at the two strangers, brown eyes wide with alarm and fear.
“Lady? Of what service may we be to you?” the Elf repeated.
Her first thought was the one her body obeyed. Fight. Don’t let them take me like they took Naneth! Yanking Morélen from the dry dirt, Anorien charged. Screaming as loudly and fiercely as she could manage, she swung Morélen mightly at the two male’s necks, forcing them to duck to the ground as the blade slpit empty air above their heads.
“Hold, woman! What madness is this?” the Elf who had spoken before shouted angrily from the ground. “Do you not recognize friends when you see them?”
Anorien was beyond reason, the voice in her head screaming louder and louder, “Fight, fight!“, and the Elf’s anger only fed hers.
“Hold your tongue, or I will cut it out,” she retorted, bringing the point of her sword quickly to the verbal Elf’s unshaven chin, pricking him sharply.
Thus pinned, and unarmed, Elrohir became silent.
Turning smoldering brown eyes on the silent Elf, she demanded, “And have you no tongue that your brother must speak for you both?”
Risking a speedy glance at Elrohir, Elladan, in his softest, most charming voice, replied, “Aye, my lady, I can speak. But you must forgive my brother. He lacks manners.”
The corners of Anorien’s mouth twitched in a smile, but she repressed it quickly. Tighteing her white-knuckled fist on the hilt of her sword, she ordered, “Take off your weapons and throw them away from you or your brother will also lack a head.”
Thoroughly convinced of her sincerity, the brothers hurriedly removed their belts and quiver straps and gently tossed their swords, arrows, bows, and knives away, the awful feeling of vulnerability increasing by the second.
No Orc or Goblin could put this much fear into a man, Elrohir thought silently. My father should consider women as warriors.
“Good,” Anorien announced, blowing air once out the side of her mouth to clear her face of the one persistant curl that continued to flop in her eyes. “Now, why are you here? And remember, if you lie to me, it will be the last time you ever speak to anyone.”
“We heard your screams, and our ears led us here, ” Elladan finished respectfully. He had noted, with much relief, that the sword had been withdrawn to a position several inches away from Elrohir’s neck, and he had no wish for it to return.. at least not in such close proximity.
Anorien nodded, searching first Elladan’s grey eyes, and then Elrohir’s for a sign that they had lied. She had discovered the gift with her Naneth, long ago.
Naneth had said, “Only an hours practice with the sword, Anorien, and then you can go and bathe in the stream.”
But Anorien had looked her mother in the eyes and.. known. Her mother would not accept merely an hour’s work..
Seeing naught but truth and goodwill in both sets of sparkling grey eyes, Anorien pulled Morélen completely away from Elrohir’s neck and slid her back into the black leather sheath that hung on her thick, wide belt.
That done, she held out both slender, muscled arms, offering her hands to the Elves who now sat cross-legged on the dirt and leaves.
In unison, they flashed dazzling arrays of perfect white teeth as they lightly grasped her strong hands and hopped easily to their booted feet.
Anorien held Elrohir’s hand fast in hers after he had risen, examining it closely. She had not looked at his face, only his hand. When she had finished, she half-threw his hand away from her.
“You have killed,” she stated. Neither accusing nor forgiving, her tone was even. A statement of fact, nothing more or less.
Elrohir looked blank. Must this woman be so abominably… unexpected? A declaration of all things great and small that had fallen to his sword was the farthest thing from his mind, and the woman found it important? He was insulted. A slip of a girl loose with a sword threatens my neck, and then expects that I will discuss every foul Orc I have slain?
He remained silent.
“I can hear them screaming when I touch your hand,” Anorien continued. “Who were the?”
“Orcs, men. Mindless slaves who would kill us if we did not kill them.”
Anorien made no more of the matter; it was not important. She had more pressing things to attend to besides the victims of this rude male.
Her thoughts turned back to the necklace she wore as she turned her back and walked away from the Elves.
Elladan, noticing her downward stare,, coughed hopefully. “My lady?”
Anorien glanced over her shoulder and raised one eyebrow in response. Seeing the two indistinguishable brothers standing side by sight, at even heights and identical garb, she sighed loudly in vexation. “Which one..?” she prompted, sweeping the rogue curl out of her face one again.
Elladan stepped closer, followed by Elrohir.
“Lady, we have.. We have laid the woman to her rest, and the necklace you wear was held in her hand. We thought you would want it.”
The brothers steeled themselves for a fit of weeping, but none came. Anorien would not cry anymore; there were no tears to shed.
“I thank you, my lords,” she stated evenly, without even a catch in her voice.
Elladan, ever the caring one, carefully eased the question, “Is there aught else we can do, lady?” It is not normal. No tears at the loss of someone held dear?
“No.. yes. Tell me, do you know anything of a man called Nêodíl?”
At their blank faces, she added, “Black Star?”
Elrohir’s face exhibited a fleeting look of enlightenment, but it faded as he answered with conviction, “No, I am sorry. I do not know anyone with those names. But,” he said as an afterthought, “my father has seen more years and more in them that we. He, perhaps, could help.”
Anorien pursed her full lips thoughtfully. “I see.”
Abruptly, Elrohir asked, “Tell us your name. Please,” he remembered, recalling the last time he had let his manners slip in front of the lady.
“Anorien. And which one are you?”
Anorien studied his face closely. “Ah.. Three freckles that your brother does not have, eh?”
“You’re very observant, Lady Anorien,” Elrohir smiled.
The ever-present fire that smoldered in Anorien’s brown eyes blazed without warning. “Anorien,” she spat. “Anorien! I am not a lady, not am I to be called one for propriety’s sake. Is it clear?“
“Is it clear to you that I am not your slave, to be spoken rudely to at every turn? I am not accustomed to such language from a female, and it is certain that I will not become accustomed to it now. Control your tongue!” Elrohir snapped in return. He was well within reach of his sword, and curse him if he would put up with a tongue lashing from the witch now.
Elladan very wisely stepped back several paces, deeming it prudent not to interfere.
“Control yours, Lord Elrohir! Did I ask you to meddle at the beginning?” Anorien demanded, not unreasonably.
Elrohir’s flushed cheeks grew brighter as his grey eyes darkened.
“I should think, lady, that a gentleman would be expected to be of assistance to a lone girl in distress under any circumstances, not witholding his goodwill simply because the girl is a fiery-tongued witch with not one speck of gratitude in her body.”
Anorien was momentarily held speechless, and her argument began to disentegrate, to her embarrassment.
“Well,” she finally sputtered, “if the gentleman was so noble and kind, he would have much better control over his emotions, would he not?”
Her jab found its mark, but Elrohir was ready.
“A normal gentleman, like Elladan here, would have utmost control over ever aspect of his life. Unfortunately for you, I am abnormal and proud to be so, thus I am freed from controlling my temper.” Elrohir regally raised his head, drawing himself to his full height, a good 6 inches greater than Anorien’s.
Without words to spit back at the Elf, Anorien’s face grew redder by the second. At last, she hissed all the pent-up air out of her mouth and smoothed her glaring face.
“Then let it be the end of it!” she announced, by way of apology and resolution.
“Good, then. Now, will you come to Imladris with us and speak with my father, or must we go without you?”
Anorien’s face betrayed her thoughts. Alas that the decisions must come so quickly…
Author’s Note: I hope everyone enjoyed this chapter! I tried to get it out in a more timely fashion this time.