Between Freedom and Loyalty


Lainien ran as quickly as she could without jostling the two mortals in her care, trying to outpace the orcs that had followed her from the clearing. Their dark thoughts invaded her mind, and she pushed the voices out, focusing instead on her feet as they wove through the forest.

Laden down by her burden, the orcs were gaining on her. The boundary of Imladris and the protection of Lord Elrond was close, but it took just moments for an orc to catch up to her side and lash out. Turning inward, tucking the women closer under her chin, Lainien caught the blow of the orc's sword on her shoulder blade and cried out as she felt the skin rip open, blood freely running down her back.

At the cry, she felt the woman stir, her mind awaken, and her thoughts immediately focusing on Lainien's collarbone, the woman's only view. Using soothing words in her own language, Lainien tried to calm the woman – it would only make it harder if she panicked. With a great burst of force and energy, the elf pushed ahead of the orc, charging recklessly forward hoping to cross the border.

Slowly the thoughts of the orc faded as she found herself in Elrond's protected land, her feet becoming sluggish and her footsteps heavy from the loss of blood. Concerned thoughts flooded her mind as the woman noticed the change, but Lainien could not stop now – she had given her word. She must get the woman and child to Lord Elrond.

Minutes or hours passed, Lainien couldn't tell. Blood soaked her dark brown hair, transforming it to black as she continued through the land. Suddenly, the woman in her arms whimpered, pain coming from her side.

"Shh now, we're almost there." Lainien whispered in the mortal tongue, hoping to soothe the woman.

The woman's thoughts flowed slowly, fading in and out of consciousness, as the rhythmic footfalls of the elf were all she could hear. She held tightly to her son, the only thing left worth living for now as she had lost her husband and home.

Finally, Lainien could run no more. Before she faded to darkness, she slowed and gently rested the woman on the ground against a tree, calling out in her mind, desperately hoping for the guard of Imladris to come and find them. Her last action was to hold gently to the woman's hand and her sight faded black.

Elladan rode swiftly though the trees followed by three other elves on horseback. His father had sent him and the guard quickly into the forest with instructions to find a party of mortals travelling to Imladris. His keen eyes moved restlessly through the trees searching for the travellers.

"My Lord, here!" Came a shout from one of the guard.

"Is it the mortals?" He asked, eyes searching in the direction the elf had pointed.

"It is…two elves." The guard responded hesitantly.

The group made their way towards a dense thick of trees where they found a small elf at the feet of a woman whose back was against a tree, blood covering both of them.

"It is the mortal woman! Get her up quickly, and be gentle." Came Elladan's reply.

"What of the elleth? Who is she?" Replied another guard, looking curiously at Lainien's prone figure.

"Bring her with us, she is injured." Elladan said, eyes softening over their embraced hands.

The guards moved closer to the bodies, gently hoisting the woman and the young child onto a horse in front of an elven guard. When one turned the elleth over, he dropped her arm in a flash and stepped backwards, eyes turning dark with hatred.

"It is the child of a traitor!" A guard hissed, backing away from the unconscious elf.

"How did she come upon the woman? Did she intercept their group and attack?" Asked another elf.

Elladan refused to believe that the elf had attacked the mortal. Even now in an unconscious state, it was difficult to release her hand from the woman's. No, he thought. There is something more to this elleth, despite her bloodline.

"She will come with us." He commanded firmly.

"I will not carry a traitor into my home." The guard stated defiantly.

"We would be no better than traitors if we left this elf here to die, Amras." Elladan said sternly. He looked down at the elleth and sighed.

"I will take her and bring her before my father. He shall be the judge of her fate." Elladan took hold of her body gently, lifting it up to his horse, and settling her down in front of him. Securing her body lightly before his, he turned his horse around and made for the gates.

Hooves upon stone alerted Elrond to the arrival of his son. Eager to meet the man who sent word to him about his coming, Elrond quickly departed his room. As soon as he stepped out, he halted. The man was not with them.

He rushed down to the courtyard where Lindir welcomed was welcoming the guard. He noticed the beautiful mortal woman and her small bundle being lifted down from Amras' horse and smiled. The child had made it. Just as quickly, the soft smile turned into a frown as his eyes captured the blood on her robes and the sheen of sweat upon her brow.

It was then that is brows shot up in surprise as Elladan handed the unconscious form of an elf to Lindir, who looked upon the elleth in shock. It was the young elf who lived in the forests, the outcast of Mirkwood.

Further upon his brow did his eyebrows retreat when his son gathered the elf back into his charge with an almost possessive look, first at Amras and then at Lindir. Sighing to himself, Elrond stepped forward.

"My son, what news do you bring from the forest? Why are we only receiving two mortals when we had word of six?" He asked softly to his son.

"We found only the Lady and her son along with an elleth. Enel and Rumil have been sent to scout for the rest of the party." Elladan responded, bowing slightly to his father as he spoke.

"That elf is a traitor!" Cried Amras, coming forward towards Lord Elrond. "I would not have her within our walls!"

"She is no traitor!" Shouted Elladan. "She cannot be held responsible for her family's actions!"

"Treachery lies in blood." Amras spoke dangerously soft, eyes narrowing at Elladan.

"Enough." Said Elrond. "She has shown naught but bravery, as it appears she helped our guests here. She shall be brought in, treated, and we will decide later on her fate."

The elves nodded and moved towards the doors, Elladan holding lightly onto the body of the elf.

"Take her to the healing rooms, and be sure she is treated kindly." Elrond said quietly.

Elladan nodded and moved up the intricate stairs and towards the healing rooms while Elrond looked out towards the forest, mourning the man who he would never know.

Dark grey smoke blanketed her version as the forest around her caught aflame. Lainien was running hard towards her home, away from the protection of the elleth in charge of the young elves.

"Come back, Lainien!" Came shouts of protest from behind her as she tore away into the flames.

She pushed on with short legs, fear threatening to overwhelm her as her own combined with others she passed, until eventually she was left alone with her thoughts as she came upon the shelter that was her home.

Stricken with the sight of the collapsed structure, she stumbled to the rubble in search of her parents. She could find none.

Just as she sat down amid the smoke and dying flames of the house, she heard voices yelling from afar. Not in range of their minds, the elfling righted herself and pushed her short, child-length legs in the direction of the voices.

Dark and sinister thoughts came rushing into Lainien's mind as she followed the voices. Terrified of the strange thoughts, she halted and prepared to return when she heard her mother's voice.

"Please Saeros, why? I don't understand." Came the soft, pleading voice of her mother.

Lainien froze. She hadn't ever heard her naneth speak like this before. And the deep sadness of her thoughts swirled rapidly through Lainien's confused mind as she approached the pair.

"The necromancer knows all! And he is ten times more powerful than any elf lord here, or anywhere this side of Arda! Curse the ring holders and their assumed power! Curse Thranduil and his usurped throne! This forest, this land belongs to the one with the most power, and I will serve those with the power." Screamed the elf, a demonic look on his face as he stared down at the female elf.

Lainien couldn't understand. The elf looked like her ada, but his voice and his thoughts were black and there was a deep hatred that she hadn't felt before.

"Please, my love. Please, think of your child. Remember who you are, my beloved."

The elfling watched, horrified as the elf brought his blood-soaked sword above his head. A cruel smile twisted his darkened face as he stared at the elleth, crumpled and heart broken at his feet.

"I know who I am. I am power, Iminyë." He all but whispered to the elf.

What light was left in his soft blue eyes faded to black as his arm came down swiftly and delivered a deathly blow to his wife.

At the elfling's heart wrenching sob that escaped as she watched her mother die, the elf turned and fixed his black eyes upon her.

"What to do with you?" He purred softly, advancing slowly, dark eyes starting into blue.

Lainien opened her eyes, the panic and fear still coursing through her body, her heart beating heavily in her chest. The room was dark, but soft moonlight filtered down through curtains leading to a balcony.

She sat up, registering the sharp pain in her shoulder, but ignoring it as she catalogued her surroundings. Her bed was in a corner of a large room filled with four other empty beds, with an arch leading to a larger foyer. Two large windows proved to be exit possibilities, with the tree line suggesting they we not too high up for her to jump to the ground below. She moved her legs to the side to stand, noting the strong smell of antiseptic and bitter herbs. The healing room. She heard a command to take her there.

The cold floor upon her bare feet cleared her heard further as she searched the room. She had to find the woman and infant. Walking through to the archway and leaning softly against it, she closed her eyes, searching.

The soft brightness of the woman's mind was a beacon in the dark as Lainien made her way into the foyer and down a short hallway to a set of private rooms. Opening the door softly, she found the woman.

Looking at her now, Lainien found her quite beautiful. Thin brows and thick lashes were predominant on her face, and a square jaw with a strong nose marked her as the race of men. But there was a softness to her face that reminded Lainien of an elf.

Quickly locating the child in a small basinet next to his mother, Lainien stared down at the smallest being she had seen in many centuries. The child was awake, staring calmly at Lainien and she realized that he had his father's eyes – a strong, steel grey. He will be a fine man and valiant warrior, the elf thought, pride filling her breast as she touched his brow softly with her thumb.

"Aragorn." She whispered to the child, a soft smile gracing her full lips. "What hope you give me for the beauty in life."

She sat next to the basinet, one hand stroking the child's hair while the other grasped the woman's hand lightly, and allowed her eyes to glaze over as she entered into a dream world.

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