Like blood and fire

All that i was...

He was shifting his weight in the saddle, a bit restless. Hammer was moving through the forest with ease and followed an almost invisible track, he didn’t have to steer the horse at all and could allow his mind to drift. He felt very uncertain, as he got closer to his destination his fears and doubts seemed to quadruple with every step the horse took. All he knew was that it was a valley inhabited by other elves, that it had a good reputation and that it was some sort of sanctuary? What if the inhabitants were Avari or Silvan, or even Sindar of origin? Then he feared that he would be less than welcome.

He had to grin, a rather sarcastic and wry smile that his brothers would have recognized, these valley dwellers wouldn’t kill him, he was rather sure of that. But what if things had changed? What if the world had become even more violent than it had been? Could he be met with violence? After all, he was a stranger, and he wasn’t even able to speak and explain himself. Would he be recognized? That idea sent shivers down his spine, enormous amounts of time had passed since his death, even he realized this but what if the deeds he and his family had done still were remembered? He didn’t really know how to deal with that thought. He watched the trees that surrounded the path, they were healthy and the forest felt as if it was somehow protected. It was a good feeling and he felt almost welcome but then again, he was an elf. Of course the forest would greet him thus.

Well, maybe he wouldn’t be very welcome but he hoped that he at least could be brought up to date on the history of this place and his people. He would be ready to bow and crawl if that was what was needed for him to get accepted. The loneliness was eating away at him, he didn’t like being alone anymore. Before it had been no problem, before he had enjoyed those few rare moments of peace when he was all alone in their home, when his brothers and father were busy somewhere else and he could just relax and be himself. He had always been the one onto whom most expectations had been thrown, he was the firstborn and so everybody had followed him with eager eyes, curious about every darn thing he ever did. Was he dressing the right way? Was he mingling with the right kind of people? Was he as brilliant as his father?

He sighed and squatted a mosquito which had gotten a bit too eager to taste his blood, oh they had been just like that insect. Blood suckers! There was no escape from the gossip and the unspoken expectations of the court. He had often wished that his father hadn’t been the son of Finwë, that they all had been commoners. It was as if the title and the elevated position it brought had somehow chained them, stolen their lives.

He had hated it, but he had played the game, danced like the other goddamn puppets and smiled and bowed and been the perfect son. The thing he had hated the most was of course the constant sensation of being prey, he felt like a deer in front of the hunters and the hunters were females. Mothers trying to push their daughters at him, others trying to flirt on their own behalf. He didn’t know which category was the worst one but he did think it could be the mothers. He couldn’t count all the times some noble lady had run into him “by coincidence ” and presented a daughter or more as if they were broodmares for sale. He had been polite but he didn’t encourage them, it wasn’t that he was blind to female beauty but he refused to be used as a pawn in some sick game of power and influence.

They had started even before he came of age, before he was old enough to really have developed any urges of that kind, they had frightened him and his father had taught him many a lesson on how to avoid breaking hearts without inadvertently making any promises that could be used against him later. Every word he said would be scrutinized and over analyzed, he had to weigh each and every one carefully and never let his mind run amok. So he kept those lessons in his mind and used them, he never got drunk while in public, didn’t flirt with anyone and it of course only made him even more alluring to those on the hunt for a husband or son in law.

The sun was warm and he felt almost drowsy, he could sleep in the saddle but preferred not to, he didn’t know the terrain and the dangers it could be hiding, better to stay alert. He grinned to himself, remembered the first time he had been with an elleth. It had been awkward and more than a little embarrassing but it had been nice too, sort of. He had somehow felt that something had been lacking, he first believed that it simply was due to the fact that he didn’t love the otherwise very pretty and experienced elleth. If he fell in love with her then it would feel different. It wasn’t that it didn’t satisfy him, it just…didn’t feel right. Later he came to realize what it had been, he had already started to feel that strange attraction towards his cousin.

He had to think about him now, tried to remember everything about him. The smile, his eyes, his touch. Fingon had saved him, in more ways than many would think and he was still grateful for that, few times in his life had he been more devastated than when he realized that Fingon was no more. It had been worse than his captivity, worse than the death of his grandfather and father. Fingon wasn’t supposed to die, wasn’t supposed to be gone! It wasn’t fair! He remembered the soul crushing grief and how his brother had tried to calm him down, give him some new purpose with life, save him from fading. Oh his brother, he wondered what had happened to him? Had he too ended his own life? Succumbed to grief and regret? Maybe he would find out now. It was a faint hope but one he would carry within nonetheless.

Hammer was a good horse with good movements and he was easy to ride, the animal was valuable and he felt very grateful for this gift. He ought to repay those people in some way, at least let them know what fate those two lads had met. He owed them that, and he wished that he could express his grief and tell the families how they had died and that he had made sure that they were avenged. He started to feel hungry but the day was still young, he wouldn’t stop now. The last few days had been uneventful and he had covered a lot of ground. If the maps were right he should be rather close to his destination but he had seen no signs of any valley so far. It was apparently hidden somehow, well, that was no surprise, his people had a sad habit of trying to hide and it usually didn’t end well.

He let Hammer walk down a rather steep little hill and started to plan for a short break to let the horse rest and drink a little. Then Hammer suddenly stopped and neighed and he almost started and straightened himself up, ready for danger or anything really. He was surrounded, he hadn’t even noticed that there were others present but there were elves clad in a sort of uniform all around him and they all carried bows and had arrows knocked and aimed at him.

He felt his heart shudder in his chest, held his hands up in the air, tried to look non-threatening, many of them were dark of hair and eyes and he suspected that they were Noldor, like himself. The uniforms and armor were elegant and yet very sophisticated and he could see at least twelve there. One stepped forth, he had to be an officer and he looked rather surprised, stared at the rider and the horse with a frown. “Who are you? What are you doing here?”

Telagon of Imladris was Glorfindel’s second in command and very proud of his position, he had worked very hard to gain this sort of status and he was good at his job too. Now Glorfindel was indisposed for some reason and so were Elrond and there was a distinct nervous feeling surrounding the entire valley. Telagon wasn’t stupid, he knew something was terribly wrong and he knew it had something to do with that strange elleth Glorfindel had brought with him. Now he stared at an ellon that appeared to be extremely tall and well built, with waist long red hair and grey eyes and he wore clothes made by humans and rode a draft horse of human breeding?

He was suspicious and he had every right to be too, the stranger was armed but the weapons were far from as good as theirs and he saw that the tall stranger was a bit nervous, almost afraid. His gaze was flickering but he sat still on the tall horse and held his hands up. Telagon walked closer, slowly, the ellon was among the most beautiful males he had ever seen and he had no idea of where this elf came from. He had never heard of anyone that tall before. “Would you please answer my question?!”

The last words were a command, not a polite question and the stranger made a strange grimace and opened his mouth, only some hoarse distorted sounds could be heard and he pointed at his throat and shook his head with an apologetic and pale smile. The stranger was a mute? Telagon had to blink, elves usually never had that kind of problem. He had to think fast. “So you are unable to speak? You will have to follow us, nobody enters the valley without being questioned.”

The stranger nodded and two of the warriors took his weapons, Telagon stared at the sword the tall stranger carried. The design was elvish beyond doubt but the metal awful, the quality just shite. It looked new though and he tilted his head and stared at the red head. The features told him this ellon had to be of noldorin blood and he looked strong, skilled even. “You made this?”

The stranger nodded, again a shrug and an almost apologetic expression, as if he was trying to say that he was ashamed of the result. Telagon knew then that the stranger had to have been trained as a black smith, the forging wasn’t that bad and if the metal had been good the sword would have been excellent. A blacksmith was a valuable member of any society so why hadn’t Telagon heard of this one before? He studied the blade closer, then he looked at the clothes and the horse and found it weird that an elf was wearing human garments and riding a horse that beyond doubt normally would pull a plough. Perhaps this elf had lived among humans? An orphan perhaps? It was impossible to guess the age of the ellon and he had heard of elflings being raised by humans before. But he did understand what Telagon was saying and the captain found this mystery a bit intriguing.

“Dismount, we go on foot from here, follow me.”Telagon ordered some of the warriors to continue the patrol and he and three others were to escort the stranger, the ellon dismounted and the warriors stared a bit, they had never met an elf that tall! Telagon was a tall warrior and he had to lay his head back to stare the red head straight in the eye. He saw that the stranger was nervous still, but also in a way relieved. He looked as if he had travelled for many days and the horse neighed and rubbed its nose against his back, eager to go. Telagon saw the affectionate little pet on the neck the stranger gave the animal and knew that this ellon probably was well raised and a good person.

They started walking, one of the warriors took the reins and the tall elf followed straight behind Telagon who was getting more and more curious, who the hell was this stranger? One of the warriors whispered to him. “I bet he is here to get some help with his voice”

Telagon nodded, that was possible. Elrond was a skilled healer and able to fix a lot of ailments. If the ellon was a blacksmith then he could have inhaled something that had scorched his vocal cords, but he didn’t have the burn marks that were commonly seen on a black smith’s skin. Usually even elven black smiths would have scars from embers and contact with hot metal, they would fade of course but they constantly got new ones. This one’s skin was so smooth, so silky as that of a new born and Telagon suddenly felt a chill go down his spine. Tall, redhead? He instinctively looked at the strangers right hand, it was there. Right, so it couldn’t be….or could it? Glorfindel had been sent back hadn’t he? But why would the Valar send that creature back? This ellon didn’t seem like one described by some as a monster. Not at all. Telagon knew that history always is written down by the winners, things could have been much less black and white than he had been brought up to believe. Well, Elrond would know for certain.

They walked down the paths and the hidden valley came into view, the stranger stopped for a second and just stared, his mouth ajar and his eyes wide with disbelief. Telagon felt a bit proud and grinned. “Yes, it is quite a sight to behold.”

The path was winding and steep and he saw how the red heads eyes were moving around, taking in everything. The stranger seemed to relax, to ease down and Telagon made a grimace. Too bad that Elrond was occupied with something, the red head would have to wait. Elrond’s sons were at home though, perhaps they could help this ellon? They too were skilled and at least they could figure out his story and who he was. Maedhros was staring at a settlement that in many ways reminded him of the smaller cities closer to the Pelori mountains, and the buildings were distinctly Noldorin in design and yet they had something to them that he only could identify as slightly Silvan or perhaps Sindar. It was something about the almost organic design of the lovely houses that resembled a forest. Telagon went over the bridge and stopped in front of the staircase leading up into the city. “There will be someone here to take care of your horse in a few minutes, and I will get someone to come and greet you. You do know how to read and write?”

The stranger nodded and he was still staring, looking a bit dumbstruck. Wasn’t he used to such splendor? Perhaps he had been raised by humans? One of the servants came scurrying down the stairs and stared with huge eyes at the tall ellon, Telagon hawked and the servant let out a small squeak before he bowed his head. “Yes?”

Telagon sighed and rolled his eyes, you could easily believe that this servant never had seen anyone other than the inhabitants of the valley before. “See if you can find Erestor, this ellon is mute and I have no idea who he is or what he is doing here, but I guess he is here for healing or something. And get a stable worker to take care of his horse.”

The servant nodded and ran off like his robes were on fire, Telagon turned around and smiled at the stranger again. “Worry not, everything will be taken care off”

The tall ellon smiled back but it was a very nervous grin indeed and his eyes were still filled with disbelief.

Glorfindel hadn’t left the room, he just sat there, watching his best friend and the elleth he had tried to rescue. His mind was racing and yet it was at a standstill, there was nothing he could do, nothing at all. The healers had no idea either and as far as they knew the only option was to get lady Galadriel to come to Imladris, That could take two weeks, even more if something unexpected happened. Glorfindel was shivering slightly, he didn’t want to face anyone now, didn’t want to see the twins, nor their sister. It was his fault, somehow this was all his fault. Erestor had visited rather frequently and he was pale and unable to really say anything, he was running the entire valley now and the responsibility was a heavy burden on him.

The two just lay there, motionless and strange, as if they were sleeping and yet not. It didn’t feel right, it didn’t feel as though this was sleep, it felt as if they were dead. Glorfindel fought his own fears now, tried to remain calm, to analyze the situation and find a way out but this was not his field of expertize at all. Elrond was stuck inside of Halariel’s mind, and couldn’t return. Glorfindel refused to give up, refused to let anything defeat him but this time he just had to, he was as helpless as a newborn.

A door opened and he saw that one of the workers stuck his head in through the door. “Have you seen Erestor? There is a stranger here, some mute ellon from Eru knows where”

Glorfindel shrugged. “He was here five minutes ago, I think he went to the herbal garden with the twins though.”

The other ellon disappeared and Glorfindel made a grimace. A mute elf? That was a first. He had never met anyone unable to speak before and a swift feeling of compassion rushed through him before he once again just sat there, staring at Elrond’s unmoving body.

Erestor was indeed in the herbal garden, searching for something to soothe his nerves, the twins were with him, both were distraught by these events and terribly worried and he both tried to comfort them and he was being comforted in return. Something like this had never happened before, they had already sent a messenger to Lothlorien and the ellon had been ordered to ride as fast as he could. Erestor just hoped that he didn’t run into orcs or something like that. He stood there with a pair of scissors and tried to cut off some leaves of a tea bush when a servant came running. “My lord, some strange ellon has arrived just now, he is a mute. “

Erestor frowned. “I am kind of busy?”

Elladan frowned too. “Mute? Perhaps he is here looking for help?”

Elrohir nodded. “I bet he is, too bad ada is…incapacitated.”

The servant looked nervous. “Please, someone should welcome him at least, and explain the situation. “

Erestor sighed and felt how his head had become rather heavy. “Alright, I’ll meet this ellon then, just to show him courtesy.”

The twins followed right behind him and Erestor shook his head and mumbled an oath just to himself, what a moment to arrive. The lord of Imladris lay trapped within the mind of a patient and they had no way to free him. He rushed down the stairs and then he slowed down. He saw some warriors and among them with his back turned towards the stairs stood an exceedingly tall ellon with long red hair. Erestor felt how the world for a second stood completely still, how was this possible. I know him! His own mind was screaming at him but it was impossible, it couldn’t be, it just couldn’t… The twins stared at the tall red head with narrow eyes, then they saw how pale Erestor had become and they tensed up, they sensed that something was off, that the counsellor was distressed. Erestor felt his heart pounding in his chest, felt nauseous. The stranger turned around and now there was no doubt, no doubt at all. He had seen that face, many times. He had never forgotten and if Elladan hadn’t grasped him by his arm he would have turned around and run for this was impossible, he was seeing a ghost. Erestor blinked twice, his voice a hoarse croaking sound. “Maedhros Feanorion?!!”

The twins saw the stranger twitch, as if he had been struck somehow, and the pale skin turned even paler, he looked as if he was ready to run for his life. Erestor just stared and Elladan turned to the counsellor. “You have got to be friggin kidding me?!”

Elrohir stared at Maedhros too, his eyes wide with disbelief and he saw that the redhead looked scared. Who would have believed that? But Elrohir remembered what their father had told them of the time he and his brother had been raised by the two oldest of Fëanor’s sons. They had been like fathers to him and he had loved them dearly. Elrohir felt a sort of compassion grasp a hold of his fëa, he sensed that the handsome ellon was greatly distressed, and confused too. And the fear was also apparent even for one less sensitive than themselves. He patted Erestor on his back, hard. “Get a grip Erestor, if this really is who you claim it to be then he shouldn’t be stared at as if he was some abnormal animal in a cage. “

Erestor yelped and straightened his back, tried to look normal, the warriors had sort of moved away from the tall ellon, they stared with disbelief and not a small amount of apprehension. He was unarmed and yet they stared at him as if he was a fire breathing dragon or something like that. Erestor felt himself shiver slightly, a reborn, it was most absolutely not a normal happening. He walked down the stairs and the polite smile on his face felt stiff like a board, his fingers twitched as if he longed to feel them grasp the hilt of a blade. He felt tiny compared with this giant of an ellon and he felt extremely intimidated, until he met the red heads gaze.

His eyes were not at all as they had been, the cold haughty expression of superiority bordering on madness was gone. All that he saw was confusion and longing and sorrow and Erestor suddenly knew that yes, this was Maedhros and yet it wasn’t. He remembered that Glorfindel too had been extremely confused when he was returned to life, it had almost been too much to bear and Elrond had worked hard to help the reborn balrog slayer find his place in this world that no longer was the one he had left. Erestor felt the stiff grin being replaced by a sincere one and the tall elf looked at him with a slight shudder, as if he sensed the change in them all.

“Welcome, fear not, you are most welcome, we are just not that used to handling reborn elves.”

Maedhros stared at the tall darkhaired ellon, he looked somewhat familiar and the two younger ones behind him puzzled him greatly, they had to be identical twins and he wasn’t that used to such. Twins among the eldar was very rare and identical ones even more so. One fëa separated into two bodies. He remembered a pair of twins like them, and a strange and hollow feeling filled his heart. These two looked so much like them, like his foster sons. He bowed deeply, tried to suppress his need to hide. The ellon who greeted him looked very well groomed and his robes spoke of an administrative job but there was something about him that told Maedhros that he wasn’t all that soft. This had once been a hardened warrior and the core of him still was far from soft. The ellon bowed his head slightly and the warriors left, although a bit reluctantly. “Allow myself to introduce myself, I am Erestor of Imladris, this is Elladan and Elrohir Elrondion.”

Maedhros gasped, his eyes went wide and he felt how the strength of his legs seemed to have gone completely, he swallowed and how he wished that he could have spoken. The sons of Elrond? He remembered Elrond as a young elf, barely more than a child, filled with mischief and life and yet with a streak of seriousness that spoke of a great personality and an unusual destiny. He couldn’t hold back a whimper and he felt something sting his eyes, by Eru, was he crying? He had anticipated everything except this, the family of his foster son.

Erestor went over and grasped Maedhros arms, in a warriors greeting and he saw how the silvery grey eyes were shiny and saw how the tall ellon was constantly swallowing, trying to contain his emotions. “Come with me, you look as if you need a hot bath, a hot meal and some explanations.”

Maedhros stared at the two very handsome young ellyn and he saw that these were warriors, they had an air of fierceness around them and he didn’t doubt that they were skilled. Both wore very nice blades and moved like predators and he suddenly yearned to learn more of their history, he needed to know everything! He followed Erestor and the two twins towards a huge beautiful building and Erestor barked some orders. They entered a sort of study or office and Erestor smiled. “I have asked the staff to bring some food and some clean clothes and prepare a room for you.”

Maedhros was hungry, he hadn’t realized that until Erestor mentioned food and he felt his stomach growl in anticipation. The twins stared at him still, there was both awe and confusion in their eyes and he felt a strange urge to hug them, to ensure them of his good intentions. Elrond’s sons, it was like a dream. But what about Elrond? Was he dead? Was he just not there at the moment? The twins were rather young, he could sense it and he hoped by Eru that they hadn’t suffered the trauma of losing their father at such a tender age. And their mother? There had to be a mother as well, perhaps they had siblings too?

He sat down in a deep chair that was very comfortable and he felt tired, so very tired. Now that he knew he was safe he sort of ran out of adrenaline and all his stress came rushing back to reclaim him. Erestor smiled, but there was something odd in his eyes. “I see that you have a lot of questions, but so do we, you cannot speak but I guess you still know how to read and write?”

Maedhros nodded and Erestor handed him a flat piece of wood and some sheets of parchment and a quill and some ink. “Please, tell us how it is possible that you are here, you…you did kill yourself didn’t you?”

The last words came very nervously and Maedhros nodded slowly, tears stinging his eyes once more. He started writing and Erestor grasped the parchment and read it out loud. “Yes, but I was awakened in a forest north of here some weeks ago, I got wounded by a boar and some humans took care of me. Then I travelled towards this place, they told me it was a sort of sanctuary.”

Erestor nodded. “It is mellon, a noldorin settlement. There are few elven cities left these days, we have Lothlorien which is ruled by the lady Galadriel and her husband Celeborn of Doriath and then we have Lindon and the grey havens and Eryn Galen or Mirkwood which is ruled by Thranduil son of Oropher of Doriath.”

Maedhros had gasped when he heard Galadriels name, another survivor of the house of Finwë, and he also recognized Oropher’s name. There were elves who would remember him, who knew him. Tears were flowing down his cheeks now, he felt so terribly alone and yet so strangely relieved. He grasped the quill, wrote a question, felt his heart thundering in his chest, dreading the answer and yet hungering for it. Erestor read the few words and swallowed hard. “Nobody knows what happened to Maglor Maedhros, some say he drowned when Beleriand fell and some say that he is still out there somewhere, walking the beaches and singing laments, it could be just rumors and it could of course also be true but nobody knows for sure.”

Maedhros gasped, closed his eyes in agony, his brother, how he missed him, how he missed them all. He then blinked and wrote yet another question. Erestor made a grimace. “Yes, Beleriand is no more, it has fallen beneath the waves, this world is very changed from the one you knew, just islands remain of what was mountains, the realms of your brothers are now at the bottom of the sundering sea.. I am sorry.”

Maedhros had to fight hard to prevent himself from collapsing, gods, so much had happened, so much. And he knew naught of it, he was as a child again and ashamed of his lack of knowledge. His handwriting had become rather messy now but it was still understandable. Erestor stared at the elegant tengwar and smiled but the smile was a sad one. “Elros is no more, he chose the fate of man and died ages ago, his descendants still live though, as a scattered and travelling tribe. It is a long story.”

The red head bit his lower lip, he had feared something like that. The next question was not an easy one. “Elrond?”

Erestor smiled. “Alive yes, but…incapacitated for the moment. I will explain later.”

Maedhros felt relief, a strong surge of it. He wrote more. “His family?”

Erestor nodded and his smile was warm but marred by sadness. “Well, you see his sons here, he has got a daughter too, Arwen. She is visiting her mother’s family right now. Elrond married the daughter of Galadriel and Celeborn, Celebrian but she has sailed to the west, she was attacked and abused by orcs some years ago and Elrond couldn’t help her, she had to sail or fade.”

Maedhros gasped, and felt a surge of horror rush through him, he couldn’t imagine what terrors that poor elleth had to have endured, his own torment was still something he loathed to even think about. Erestor continued. “Elrond is a healer, the best there is in all of Arda, he is occupied with a patient right now.”

The tall ellon cocked his head, so Elrond had become a healer? That was amazing, but very fitting, Elrond had always cared a lot about others and he had a sort of kindness Maedhros had admired. He wasn’t really that surprised. Elladan stared at the red head with narrow eyes, he took a deep breath. “Do you know why you have been brought back?”

Maedhros shook his head, wrote quickly. “No idea!”

The twins exchanged a swift glance, they didn’t believe in coincidences, there was something underneath all of this. The Valar had something to do with this, or they would eat their saddles!

A servant entered the study carrying a heavy tray with food and beverages and Erestor took it and placed it in front of Maedhros. “Please eat, you look as if you need it.”

Maedhros stared at the bowls of food, it was salad and fried chicken and some stuff he didn’t even recognize but it all smelled wonderfully and he felt his stomach growl. There was a chalice with wine and one with water and some tea too and he tried to control himself and not devour it all like some hungry wolf. He ought to remember his manners, he didn’t want to put shame to his name right away. The food he had gotten from the humans had been good but nowhere near this good and he felt his hands shiver, he hadn’t realized that it all affected him to such a degree. The twins stared at him still. Erestor sent them some stern glances but they were unable to look away. To them he was like a creature out of legend and Erestor sighed and prepared himself to deliver the greatest shock yet to the reborn elf.

He probably had no idea of Halariel’s existence and why should he? Elrond had explained what they had seen in the elleth’s mind and Halariel’s mother had probably left immediately after the incident. Erestor wondered why Maedhros had done what he had, hadn’t he been in a rather passionate relationship with another male? Well, most elves did feel attracted to the fëa more than the hroa and gender didn’t really matter that much, perhaps he had been drunk or just terribly disturbed emotionally? The elf who now sat there and tried desperately to eat like a well-mannered person couldn’t be the same who had raped a defenseless servant girl? Or could it?

But Maedhros had to know, and Erestor was sharing the same thoughts as the twins, it was no coincidence that the elf showed up now. The Valar were involved and Erestor didn’t like it even a bit. He didn’t trust them, not at all. They didn’t care about the fate of individuals and he was not going to let anyone harm Halariel. Elrond was protecting her and then he was too, he was loyal to his master and didn’t question Elrond’s wisdom at all. Erestor decided that the red head should be allowed to bathe and rest before the whole truth was revealed to him. It would be cruel to drop the big secret right there and then, the elf needed some rest.

Erestor put up a docile smile and tilted his head. “So you stayed with humans, I hope they treated you with respect?”

Maedhros made a grimace, his mouth was still full and he just nodded. He wanted to tell them everything but having to write everything down sort of slowed things down. It was irritating but there was nothing he could do about it. The twins were talking to each other through their bond, they discussed the possible reasons why Maedhros had been reborn and they also felt a bit excited about having someone there who had known their father as a child. And this ellon had seen it all, the great battles, the ancient enemy. He had suffered at the hands of Morgoth just as their mother had at the hands of Sauron’s orcs and they felt sympathy for him, even though they had heard a lot about the atrocities his family had been guilty of. But everybody, even their grandmother had always claimed that Maedhros was the most reasonable of the feanorians, the one most inclined to think before he acted and they had long known that he had sworn the oath and followed his father out of love, not because he believed in the things his father did.

Maedhros finished the food, he felt completely stuffed and a bit dizzy, Erestor grinned and got up. “Follow me, the servants have prepared your room and hopefully found some clothes fitting for someone your size. And there is a hot bath prepared for you.”

He sighed and got up again, it felt like a real challenge just getting out of the chair and the idea of a bath was like a vision of heaven. Erestor left the study and he walked closely behind the counsellor, he felt that he would get lost easily if he did fall behind, his head was buzzing and he was so tired. They stopped by a building that was divided into rather nice apartments and Erestor entered, the rooms were rather huge and filled with light and looked comfortable and cozy. A huge tub had been prepared and clothes and soap and towels were ready. Erestor smiled. “Now, take a bath, sleep and get rested, I will send for you later. “

Maedhros just nodded, staring at the tub, he felt his skin crawl as if he had ants everywhere, getting rid of the dust would be marvelous. Erestor left and Maedhros sat down in a chair and pulled his boots and socks off slowly, staring at his surroundings. The noldorin influence was very obvious here, wonderful craftsmanship was to be seen everywhere, even the sheets were nicely embroidered and the bed carved from wood and both elegant and hopefully not too short. He was used to sleeping with his lower legs sticking out in the air. He had to smile as a very dear memory returned to him, he had stood in his father’s forge, red faced and embarrassed, he had broken his own bed in his sleep, had grown too long for it and kicked it apart dreaming something. His father had just laughed and shaken his head, claiming that he was growing like a bean stalk. Being this tall wasn’t always such a good thing, some found him intimidating and he had used that to his advantage later.

He got the rest of his clothes off, undid his braid and got into the tub, the water was hot but not too hot and he sat down slowly, sighing with pleasure. It felt so good he almost was brought to tears once more. He remembered another bath though, one less pleasurable. After Fingon cut him down from the cliff face and brought him back to their camp he had to be washed but it had been awful. He remembered it too well, the strange feeling of disconnection, of just dreaming it all. He had fought back, the feeling of hands touching him had been terrible and just Fingon had endured his madness and terrified screams. When it finally sank inn that he was indeed rescued he had tried to push them all away, had tried to shut them out, convinced that he was too stained to be allowed near others again. Fingon had refused to listen to nonsense as he called it and treated him with the same love as before. How he wished that he had a heart as good and caring as that of his cousin.

Getting clean took a while but it was something he enjoyed, he got some oil into his hair and dried and braided it again and then he went to bed. He felt as though his bones had been turned to mush and he more fell into the bed than sat down. He had barely time to pull the covers up before he was asleep like a log.

He walked the dream path again but this time it was good dreams, good memories. He remembered seeing his parents together, smiling, kissing and caressing. He remembered the light in his father’s eyes and the proud expression upon his face as he told Maedhros that he would get a baby brother. He remembered his own excitement and the wonder with which he stared at his mother’s growing belly. He had a hard time believing that there was a tiny elfling growing inside of her but it was true. He was old enough to know how babies were made and it made him blush vigorously and his parents laughed. Later he got used to it, when Curufin was born he was already a grown ellon and busy in Tirion but he still felt that excitement, the eager optimism. Who would this brother turn out to be? Someone like their mother? More like their father? An artisan or a hunter? He knew that their parents were getting colder towards each other by then, there was something that was pulling them apart and he couldn’t really understand what it was. When the twins were born things looked good again, for a while, and then the shouting and screaming and accusations returned with a vengeance.

He knew it was a weakness within their family, a sort of possessiveness that few could endure. Love could so easily be turned into something ugly if given the opportunity and he knew that jealousy and downright paranoia lurked within the minds of them all. It did make them yearn to become the best of whatever occupations they chose but it did also turn them into rather terrible persons if they somehow felt that they had been tricked or had lost to an in their eyes less than worthy opponent. He remembered that Curufin had gotten married and he remembered that he returned to their family home years later with his son, the wife had left him. It was no wonder really and Maedhros wondered if the camaraderie and tight relationship that existed between the brothers had been too tight, that it had somehow choked them and prevented them all from developing as persons.

He remembered learning to ride, to wield a bow. He remembered the sweet scent of the meadows outside of Tirion and the smell of the sea when they visited the coast. He remembered bathing in the sea with his brothers, a happy squealing playful bunch and he had to admit that yes, their childhood had been good. There had been some sort of darkness lurking over them already then but they hadn’t noticed it, they hadn’t known. They were still like children back then, still innocent, the kin slayings and the terrors were yet to come, were yet hidden by the veil of time.

Erestor had walked up to the healing ward, he stopped by the door and hesitated before he entered the room. Glorfindel sat in the chair as usual, his head slumped to the side and his eyes glazed with sleep. He jerked and stared at Erestor for a few seconds, a bit confused and Erestor sat down in another chair. He looked at Elrond and Halariel, bit his lower lip. “No change?”

Glorfindel yawned and he looked very tired and very scared. “No change, whatever it is that is in there, it has captured them both. Why are you here now? I thought you had work to do?”

Erestor nodded and made a grimace. “Oh I do, I certainly do but something has happened Glorfindel, something rather…well, shall I say unexpected?”

Glorfindel frowned, he stretched his long legs and tossed a lock of golden hair back, he looked curious. “What?”

Erestor took a deep breath. “Do you remember when the Valar decided to send you back? Did you remember anything at all at first?”

Glorfindel cocked his head, stared at the counsellor. “Well, I remembered my previous life, I felt like I had just fallen of that cliff with the darn balrog but no, I didn’t remember why I was sent back until later. Why?”

Erestor sighed. “A stranger just entered the valley, a reborn like you.”

Glorfindel almost catapulted out of the chair. “What?! Who? Why? “

Erestor raised his arms. “Whoa Fin, calm down. I don’t believe in coincidences, you know that. The Valar are playing their own little game with us all and we are their chess pieces. A major piece just dropped into our laps, Maedhros Fëanorion!”

Glorfindel just stared, mouth open, eyes wide, he stood frozen. “M…Maedhros?!”

Erestor nodded. “The one and only unless you know of another seven and a half feet tall red head with grey eyes and a rather flaming temper?”

Glorfindel fell back into the chair. “Eru’s breath! No coincidence indeed. Has he said anything about why he is here?”

Erestor made a grimace. “Well, there is a problem, you see, he awakened in the forests north of here, probably somewhere near the Ettenmoors, and he is incapable of speaking. He has gotten his right hand back so they have healed him but his voice is gone.”

Glorfindel tensed up. “On purpose, believe me. They never do anything like that just for the heck of it, there is a reason why he is a mute then. He do write?”

Erestor nodded. “Yes, he has explained some of the things that has happened to him, and he was both afraid and confused when he arrived. He probably feared to be killed or driven away once his name got known.”

Glorfindel let out a deep sigh. “No wonder, there was something wrong with that family, I don’t know what exactly but I think they were just a little too passionate about everything. Their flame was burning too bright, it was uncontrollable. Where is he now?”

Erestor smiled. “In one of the guestrooms, resting I hope. He looked rather awful and need some rest before we try to gather more information. “

Glorfindel tensed up. “You haven’t told him about….?”

Erestor shook his head. “No, all I have said is that Elrond is busy with a patient.”

Glorfindel sighed again, his face a bit sad. “Elrond would have been so excited, his foster father here alive.”

Erestor smiled and leaned back into his chair, straightened his robes. “I know, he would have prepared a rather grand celebration I think. “

Glorfindel grimaced and crossed his arms. “Would that have been a good idea? You know, remembering who he is? There are still those who remember and bear grudges against that family.”

Erestor nodded. “I know, but I can tell you one thing for sure Glorfindel, Maedhros is very changed, the arrogance is gone. I do not know what the Valar did to him but he is a very different person now.”

Glorfindel tilted his head. “I believe you, but why do you think they sent him back now? Weeks ago? Then I was travelling with Halariel and the twins?”

Erestor nodded. “I think the Valar must have known the moment you encountered her, and then they re-awakened Maedhros. She is important to them for some reason, I wish I knew what?”

Glorfindel bared his teeth, suddenly he reminded the counsellor of a lion, snarling in defense of a prey. “Oh but we can both guess it can we not? She harbors the power of the silmarilli!”

Erestor paled. “Eru no! Do you think they will harm her?”

Glorfindel hissed. “I cannot see why not! They will do anything to harness that force, it cannot be remade you know. They will drag it from her and use it to their own advantage.”

Erestor swallowed hard and his eyes got narrow. “Maedhros is carrying a tiny piece of the same force, remember that Fëanor poured a tiny bit of his own essence into the Silmarilli? It is of course also in his offspring, a bit of who he was. I think they want to use Maedhros to reclaim that power.”

Glorfindel was tense, sat on the edge of his seat. “Will he do it? Will he obey them?”

Erestor scoffed. “Maedhros Fëanorion obeying the Valar like some dog cowering before its master? That will be the day the sundering sea runs dry! I don’t think they have managed to change him that much. I bet they just chose him because he was the most reasonable of them all, and the one most like their mother too. She was kind and wise and able to submit to the will of others if need be. “

Glorfindel nodded. “Halariel has been hiding, without being aware of it herself. Had she gone out openly and claimed to be the daughter of Maedhros the Valar would have claimed her already. Her power has shielded her.”

Erestor sighed. “No doubt about the fact that she is a Feanorian, they always go to extremes don’t they. She couldn’t just claim that she was someone else’s offspring, no, she had to go and hide from the world completely and even erase her own personality, become an animal. “

Glorfindel nodded. “Aye, but that leaves us with yet another question. What can he possibly do?”

Erestor shrugged. “I haven’t got the slightest clue to be honest, he was no magician and his strength was being a leader, and a warrior.”

Glorfindel sat back, his face a mask of amazement and also worries. “I guess we’ll just have to wait and see, let him sleep Erestor. I bet he is going to need his strength.”

Erestor stared down and nodded, he wondered if this ellon really could do anything at all, he was Halariel’s father after all. Perhaps they had been viewing this from the wrong angle, perhaps the Valar just wanted Halariel to have some family, to find a place in the world? Well, that was less than likely but still, a possibility.

Glorfindel sighed and stared up at the roof, his gaze distant. “I do not think that even Galadriel would be able to do anything. If Elrond isn’t able to help himself with the power of Vilya then there is little anyone can do from the outside.”

Erestor closed his eyes, pinched the bridge of his nose. “If we only knew what the problem is, has he gotten lost in her memories or is that power within her holding him there on purpose?”

Glorfindel shuddered. “That would be terrible, then it is too strong for anyone to control.”

Erestor nodded slowly, fear visible on his face. “We must hope, we must keep the hope alive, We cannot loose Elrond, then we might lose the twins too, it would be a tragedy.”

Glorfindel swallowed and felt his heart beat hard within his chest. “I swore to protect the line of Eärendil, and I will, with my life!”

Erestor stared at him, his soft brown eyes filled with a strange fear. “Let us pray it won’t come to that!”

Maedhros woke up slowly, he felt confused at first, he didn’t know where he was and his body felt heavy and strangely alien to him. He groaned and blinked, it came back to him now and he felt both joy and confusion. He sat up and stretched, yawned and shook his head. He was well rested and there was no reason why he should linger in bed any longer. He found a comb and braided his hair, got his new clothes on. They were a little bit too short and he grinned and remembered all the times his height had caused problems.

He got his boots on and took a quick peek at himself in a mirror, he did look good now, rested and healthy and he was looking forward to learn more of this place, and to learn what had happened on Arda since he died. There was a knock on the door and a servant entered, bringing a tray of food. Maedhros was hungry again and he thanked the servant and sat down to eat, the ellon was staring at him as if he was some exotic animal, he guessed that he would have to get used to that sort of reaction. He ate rather fast and then the servant took him to the study again. Maedhros was marveled by the beauty of the valley and didn’t really notice anything else but he did sense the strange atmosphere of sadness and fear that lay like a blanket over the place. He started to realize that he hadn’t been told the entire truth the previous day. Something was very wrong there.

He entered the study and saw that Erestor sat in a chair with some papers stacked up in a huge pile in front of him. He looked as if he hadn’t slept for days and he stared at the pile with an expression on his face that suggested that he’d rather fight orcs than do this much paperwork. He smiled at Maedhros and made a gesture towards the papers. “Sit down mellon, as you see, there is much to do here and unfortunately, I am the one who has to do all the dirty work when Elrond isn’t capable to.”

Maedhros cocked his head, an unspoken question in his eyes and Erestor sighed and leaned back into his chair, it creaked in protest. “I am sure you have understood that something is very wrong here, I didn’t lie Maedhros, Elrond is occupied with a patient but the situation is somewhat…unusual. “

Maedhros shrugged and Erestor took a deep breath. “So, here is the whole story, and I am glad you are sitting down. This is both strange and frightening. “

Maedhros tensed up, his eyes were anxious and Erestor sent him a quick glance that was supposed to look comforting. “Some days ago the leader of our military forces, Glorfindel, returned from a long journey with a very strange elleth he and the twins had encountered in a hidden valley to the east. She had no memory of who she was and her mind was that of an animal or a child. Glorfindel had tried to link with her mind to find out who she was and he had by doing that unleashed something rather unexpected and violent inside of her. “

Maedhros was confused and Erestor could clearly see it. “Well, the truth be told, Elrond has tried to explore this force and has gotten trapped within her mind. We are unable to free him and we fear for his life as well as for hers.”

Maedhros gasped and blinked, someone trapped within the mind of someone else, what in Eru’s name was these elves doing really? Nobody would have tried something like that back in the old days.

Erestor took another deep breath, he stared at Maedhros. “That you were awakened now was no coincidence, there is a connection mellon. Glorfindel told us of the things he saw in her mind and so we know who she is, who her parents were. “

Maedhros frowned, sent the counsellor a glance which could only be interpreted as so what? He did feel a bit confused though, Glorfindel? That name did ring a bell and he grasped a piece of parchment and a pen and wrote the name. Erestor nodded. “Yes, the one and same Maedhros, a reborn like you.”

Maedhros gasped and blinked, the balrogslayer was alive? He remembered hearing of the fall of Gondolin and the bravery of those trying to defend the city against the hordes of Morgoth. Erestor continued, his voice very very low and filled with a sort of uneasy shiver. “Maedhros, do you remember a silvan or Avari elleth by the name of Aira?”

Maedhros stared blankly at the ellon for a few seconds, Aira? Where had he heard that name? Then it dawned on him, he remembered, the red haired young elleth who had been their servant for some months during the siege of Angband. He had…. He went pale and a whimper escaped him, he remembered now, he remembered it all. He had done a most despicable crime against that poor elleth and he had no idea why the Valar hadn’t thrown him into the void for it. Erestor bit his lower lip, carefully monitoring Maedhros reactions. “The elleth in the healing ward is named Halariel, Aira is her mother…and you are her father.”

Maedhros just stared at Erestor, then he shook his head, no, it could not be, it was impossible. Such things didn’t happen among the first born, a raped elleth wouldn’t conceive, never. Erestor saw the expression within his eyes and smiled, a sad smile. “It is true Maedhros. Your brother had some pieces of left over material from when you father forged the Silmarilli, he gave her one of those pieces and it somehow forced a conception. It wanted to live Maedhros, to have a body. Halariel harbors the power of the Silmarilli and it is holding Elrond captive somehow.”

Maedhros shook his head, the shock had left him stunned, unable to think a single thought. He had a daughter? Aira had given birth to his child and he had never known? The shock was replaced by a sort of hurt rage, he ought to have known, he would have made it right by her, raised the child as a scion of the house of Fëanor. He had a child and he had never known!! It was the most cruel truth he had ever been exposed to and he gasped and felt how his eyes were filling with tears. Erestor didn’t lie, he could sense it. It was the truth, this Halariel was his daughter, blood of his blood, flesh of his flesh. He felt a violent surge of mixed emotions, his hands were trembling and Erestor got up from the chair. “She looks like you Maedhros, Glorfindel recognized you in her immediately. She is very beautiful but marred by a tough life, she was naught more than a wild thing when they found her.”

Maedhros sobbed and Erestor placed a hand on the shivering broad shoulders. “I will take you to her mellon.”

Maedhros got up too, his legs were shivering as he followed the counsellor to the room where Elrond and Halariel lay. They entered and Maedhros immediately recognized Glorfindel, he stared with huge eyes at the golden haired ellon who stared back. Erestor had to grin to himself, Maedhros was probably the only ellon who could make Glorfindel look small. Maedhros turned his gaze away from the reborn balrog slayer, he stared at the two laying on the bed. He instantly recognized Elrond, he looked like someone who has suffered a lot, the human blood in him made him look older than most elves and there were lines on his face that couldn’t be seen on the faces of other of the first born. But it was Elrond and Maedhros sobbed again, caught in a maelstrom of feelings he didn’t know how to contain.

Halariel lay next to the healer and Maedhros instantly knew it was true, she was his daughter. He saw her mother in her but also his own features and he fell to his knees, a wailing keening sound escaped him and Glorfindel and Erestor exchanged a very worried glance. Was this becoming too much for him? Maedhros grasped the piece of parchment he carried and the pen, wrote some words down. “Please, what must I do? I must save them!”

Glorfindel and Erestor stared at each other, indeed, what was he to do? Was there anything anyone could do?

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