Disclaimer: Sweetie, if I owned all of this, why would I be hiding under a newspaper and swatting lawyers rising Fell Beasts? *swats lawyer*
A/N: Firstly, I am so sorry that this has taken so darn long. What with one thing and another… Well, I’ve just nto had time. Also, this chapter isn’t too long compared to others; nor do I believe to to be up to my usual standard, but oh well. You win some, you lose some! Tahnk you to everyone who is following this story, it means a lot to me!!! Enjoy!
Chapter Eleven – By Your Blood
“Do not fear the dark, my love,
[/]For it can do you no harm;
[/]Fear rather what it holds, my love,
[/]Within its raven palm.”
A flaring pain in his head thrust him from the uneasy and dim twilight he was in, followed by a foul and intoxicating stench filling his senses. Elros jerked awake and struggled away from the cloth clamped tightly over his nose and mouth, only to find that he was bound to a thick and rough stone anyway. A harsh cackle sounded behind him, and he swung his leg around to have his ankle collide with deep flabby flesh. A grunt of pain and anger was chased by a hefty whack around the head, making his vision swim.
“Stop sporting with him and get on with it!” an impatient voice snapped.
“Yes m’lord,” came the reluctant gruff reply, and Elros was hauled to his feet, his arms burning as they were dragged up the course stone.
“Get back to the others!” the voice snapped again, and with one loathsome glance at the half elven twin, the thug plodded away to join the ring of men that Elros could now see were surrounding him. Beyond them, he could see the fires from the camp rising into the air, lighting the night with bright orange flares where they had gotten out of control. He had no idea where his father and brother and men were, for they were no where to be seen.
“So,” the voice snarled, suddenly much closer to Elros’ ear so that he had to resist the urge to flinch back, “You think you can just storm in here with your little knights, do you?” It was dripping with hatred, a manic tone more than a little hinted at. “You think you can just ruin what hundreds of years of preparation has conceived, and destroy my plans?! Well you are sadly mistaken!”
A sharp quick pain entered Elros’ side between his armour plates, forcing him to release a groan of pain. Whoever was behind him twisted the dagger painfully, but was careful not to damage any vital organs; he wanted vengeance, and he wanted it slow and painful.
“What do you want from me?” Elros ground out through a jaw clenched tightly against the pain.
“What I want…” the voice hissed venomously in his ear as a lock of white blonde hair fell onto his shoulder; “What I want is your blood, elf brat.”
Elros couldn’t help it, though he detested the weakness; he shuddered. The sickening blood lust in that voice made his stomach churn horribly.
With a searing lurch, the dagger was pulled quickly from his side, leaving him gasping as golden stars danced in his vision. Between the flashing lights, he saw a tall figure walk around into his sight. His eyes cleared to show a man, who had perhaps once been lordly; his face could have been noble and handsome had it not been mutilated into a sneer of hatred, the glinting serpent like eyes almost glowing in dreadful excitement.
“You thought you could stop me, by taking your brother, elf brat?” spat Káno, slapping Elros hard across the face. “You actually thought you could prevent the inevitable? You have no power here little boy, and no comprehension of the forces at work. You would have done better to cower in your mud hut dwellings, with your coward of a father, and whore of a mother”-
“Don’t you dare speak about my parents like that!” shouted Elros hotly, his bloody boiling even as it stained the side of his clothes, making them sticky and cling to him.; another backhanded slap.
“You will speak only when asked to!” commanded Káno. “Your failed attempt has not stopped me, and neither will your sharp tongue! Be polite, and perhaps I shall make it quick for you… Then again; perhaps I shall not.”
Elros bit his tongue hard and refused to acknowledge the taunt, merely glaring loathsomely at him though the wound at his side was leaching his strength.
“Your brother may have escaped me brat, but you will not. And tonight, by your blood, I shall be free!”
“You can’t,” Elros blurted out, “You need his blood, and you don’t have it. You’re not getting free from anything.”
Swift and thunderous fists to the stomach made him dizzy and nauseas and try to bend double, though his bound hands prevented it.
“Be silent!” hissed Káno. “Do not boast so low an intelligence! You are a fool, if you think I do not know that already! But had you not begun to wonder why it was you that I captured when your brother was taken? Is your wit even now so slow as to not realise the implication of your relation?”
“Don’t play with me,” he growled, suddenly feeling much braver than he was as a wave of light-headedness swept through him.
“Oh, so it is a proper warrior now! With proper retorts and honour, I daresay. Can you not figure it out, Oh Son of the Great Eärendil? You are his twin – you are one and the same.”
Elros was half way through a retort when he froze as this information sunk in… His brother’s blood; his blood… It didn’t matter which; either would do. His heart plummeted deep into his stomach. He would die if he had to, afraid as he was – but in doing so would mean the freedom and redemption of this creature, and there was nothing he could do to stop him.
A sardonic yet victorious laugh rang through the air as Káno watched understanding dawn on his captive’s face.
“You see?” he whispered insanely. “It doesn’t matter any more! Nothing you have done matters, within the hour I will be restored to my former glory – and you, Elros, shall be no more than an empty carcass on the floor and a swiftly forgotten memory. It is over, brat. You have lost.”
“Actually Káno,” a woman’s voice perked up unexpectedly, “I think you’ll find it ain’t over until it’s actually over.”
Káno took a deep breath and closed his eyes in frustration. “Nesial,” he drawled, turning to face the slender built woman as she stood behind him, leaning to one side, hands placed defiantly on her hips. “So glad you could join us.”
“You know me, Káno”, she shrugged, “Wouldn’t miss this show for the world.”
“Indeed; am I to take it you like shows then? You certainly seem to have put a good one on for his lot,” Káno asked, jerked this thumb towards Elros. Almost unperceivably, Nesial’s coal dark eyes flitted to the young elf and back again, but no one other than the elf noticed.
“What can I say? I am the greatest actress in all of Middle Earth.”
“You flatter yourself,” he snorted in contempt, “But you need not do so any more. You will have to spill the first blood Nesial; don’t put on too much of a show for that deed at least.”
Nesial quirked an eyebrow at him quizzically. “I shall make no promises, my Lord. Besides – it would seem that you have begun to sport with him already…” She stared pointedly at the slowly growing dark stain on Elros’ side. “Is that not a break from tradition?”
“Do not scorn me with pathetic traditions, witch,” he snarled. “My business with him is my own.”
“Ah, of course; you have such a great grudge to bear against a seventeen year old lad…”
“You will watch your tongue!”
“And you cannot make me!”
Nesial’s stance became dominant now and once again, a battle raged in the air before her for power; yet this time it seemed that her own strength was greatly renewed, but the pair were evenly matched. Elros could almost see a ball of light being forced back and forth between them, each pushing it with sheer strength of will and the want to dominate. It hung suspended in the air between them, unsure of where to go, of whom to bestow the dominance on…
“You begin to bore me witch,” drawled Káno finally, though he was the first to turn away. Nesial visibly relaxed, resuming her over-confident position once more.
“I’m very sorry to hear that, my Lord,” she answered, inconspicuously watching his every movement.
Káno glanced warningly at her, then at the sky. Rising dirty clouds of dark grey littered his vision like careering columns of a collapsing castle, but in the far, far west, the very last dregs of day had disappeared, and the inky indigo sky was strewn with feeble silver stars. Although no mortal could have seen any sign there written, Káno read in them an ancient script and a cold sneer crept across his face as the news spoke in his favour.
“You need not be sorry any more,” he grinned, turning back to her. “It is time.”
Eärendil thundered up past his men, his stallion’s legs merely a blur of grey as he flew away from the battle and over the brow of the hill, out into the safety beyond. He was vaguely aware of his guard slowly falling back from him where their horses could not keep up, but it didn’t mean much; all he knew was the precious bundle in his arms, and the way he should be heading. That was all that mattered, so that was all he needed to know.
Down into the shallow valley he flew, past he heaps of dead bodies of the battle, some his own men and some the enemy, though in death’s great shadow, they were all one and the same; for how could death, enshrouded in darkness, ever see the difference between the good and the evil? They were all dead now, all subjected to the same bloody fate.
He didn’t know how far he had gone; he didn’t even know where about in these godforsaken hills he was, but the smells and sounds of battle were far away from him now, and only a distant dark cloudy pillar rising behind him showed how far they had come. Slowly, Eärendil drew his mighty horse to a gentle canter and trot, and came to walk beneath the bulk of a silver-green hill in the moonlight. With a soft murmur, the stallion turned up the hill to where several statues had fallen to the floor in the elements, and where they provided a safe resting place for his son.
A soft sigh came from the horse as he finally halted on the hill top and his master dismounted, and he looked out over the way they had come to where his comrades and friends still fell back from the battle, his dark eyes lit with small orange flames. He shook his mane but did not move.
Eärendil meanwhile had laid Elrond out on the floor, still wrapped tightly in the thick blankets he had brought with him. The young half elf shivered though the night should not have been cold enough to affect him, and muttered incoherently in a state of delirium. Gently, Eärendil moved back the stray dark hairs on his face, clearing his vision.
“Elrond,” he whispered, “Elrond my son; it’s me, its Ada…”
Elrond frowned and try to move away from him, his murmurings slightly louder and more despairing.
“Sshhh,” the Mariner soothed, stroking Elrond’s hair gently, “Sshhh ion nin, its alright, you’re safe now, no one will hurt you… Wake up little one…”
The soothing tones seemed to awake in Elrond a flicker of memory, though it fluttered from his grasp when he tried to see it; it was warm and kind and loving though, and he moved towards the source of the balmy sound.
Eärendil released the breath he didn’t know he had been holding as Elrond stopped moving away and lay quite still in his arms, though the mutterings didn’t stop and Eärendil couldn’t catch what he was saying.
“Elrond?” he asked quietly, “Elrond, can you hear me? It’s Ada, little one; you remember me…”
“A – Ada?” his raspy voice tried, but the voice was strained and dry. “Is – where…”
“Shh, shh my son,” Eärendil breathed, unable to speak any more as his throat tightened and his vision became blurry with tears. He buried his face in his son’s hair, wetting it with the silver rivulets as he breathed Elrond in, relishing holding him again; it was over; he was safe, he was safe…
For a while, Elrond lay at peace in his father’s arms. He did not question why or how; it didn’t mattered – all that mattered was that his Ada had saved him, and now they would all go home to Nana, and all be safe again… And he and Elros would practice their skills as they had always done, he remembered; for now there was a shining light in his darkness, and it pierced the hopeless shadows of his mind and let golden rays fall on all of his memories of the sea and his mother and his father and –
“Ada,” he asked hoarsely, “Where is Elros?”
Eärendil rose out of his son’s hair, frowning slightly.
“He is safe ion nin, don’t worry -“
“I had a dream Ada…” whispered Elrond, because it was easier on his parched throat. “I had a dream… and the lord took him… And then we rode away… It was such a strange dream. Where is he Ada?”
Eärendil continues to frown at his son. Truth be told, he didn’t actually known where Elros was; he presumed that he had obeyed his order and left the battle, but that child had such a stubborn will on him…
“I’m sure he’s fine, my son,” he smiled for Elrond’s sake, “He is”-
But the pounding off hoof beats could suddenly be heard; they were uneven and unsteady, as though the horse were badly lame, and they grew louder each second. Eärendil’s stallion pricked his ears and watched at the direction from which the sound carried intently. A shrill neigh broke the silent air, and before his master could stop him, the great animal has sped down the hill to greet the new comer.
“Ada”- Elrond tried feebly to rise.
“Hush, my son,” Eärendil said quietly, a gentle hand upon Elrond’s chest more that adequate to keep him weakened child down. He watched as the smoky grey stallion came down on to the flat path and stood waiting, everything about him tensed and alert. Eärendil held his breath…
…As around the corner came a worn bay horse, the whites of his eyes clearly showing, the saddle on his back pulled to the side and his reins tangled around his legs. He was limping badly, favouring his left foreleg over the right but he would not stop. When he saw the stallion waiting for him, he seemed to almost fall to the ground in relief, and only his momentum kept him going. Eärendil’s stallion recognized him at once and rushed to his side and the injured and wasted steed stumbled to the ground, breathing heavily. Even in his broken state, Elrond knew that horse; he had seen him every day for years, and would have known had he been blind.
“Ada – its Elros’ horse! He’s in danger!”