One of the soldiers cleared the table with a sweep of his arm, sending papers and books and goblets crashing to the ground, and the elves carrying the unconscious King laid him carefully upon the table. The King's body had now gone limp, but he still felt as though he were burning.
"Call for Lord Elrond!" the Captain called, looking at the scared faces of the elves around him. He could feel the fear amongst them. "Now!" A small Silvan soldier ran from the tent.
"What do we do?" asked his Lieutenant.
The Captain was unsure. The previous King of the Greenwood Forest had been killed in battle during the War of the Last Alliance, with the current King, now lying and dying on the table in front of him, by his side. But this King's heir was leagues away; the young princeling begrudgingly had stayed behind. "Get his armour off him," the Captain said as it seemed the logical thing to do. He was afraid the King would die on the table in front of him before Lord Elrond was found. He could not be the one to tell the young Prince that his father's life had been the price of their likely victory and that the princeling was now King.
"The breast plate is stuck, Captain!" one of the soldiers said.
"Don't pull on it," the Captain snapped. He looked more closely, and saw that some of metal breast plate had melted into the King's tunic. "Just wait for Lord Elrond. Remove everything else. Unless it is also stuck. Just be gentle." The Captain needed to feel useful, but the hopeless was almost overwhelming.
The elves in the tent nodded and went back to fiddling with the buckles and ties of their King's armour. The Captain paced around the room. He tried not to think of what he had just seen; the dragon, the fire, the King screaming as he burned. The tent flaps flew aside and Lord Elrond entered, fresh from the field. The Captain watched as the great healer approached the King. Lord Elrond himself was dirty and blood-spattered, with singeing on the edge of his cloak.
"Lord Elrond," the Captain began. Lord Elrond held up his hand, and the elves fell silent. They all watched intently as Lord Elrond examined the King's lifeless body, running his fingertips lightly along the King's burnt left side, muttering some form of spell too quickly for the Captain to keep up with what the healer was saying.
"Remove all his armour," Lord Elrond said, looking up.
"The breast plate is stuck to his tunic, my lord," the Lieutenant replied.
"And the left arm guard," said one of the foot soldiers.
"Then cut them off!" ordered Lord Elrond. He hid his emotions well, the Captain thought, but he was obviously scared.
"You can cause him anymore harm. You," Lord Elrond said, pointing to a young sergeant. "Run and fetch me the swiftest horse from the Greenwood you can find. It must be a Greenwood horse, to know its way home. Make haste."
"Yes, my lord," said the sergeant, as he ran from the tent.
"Gently now," Lord Elrond said, his attention back on the patient. Carefully, the Lieutenant lifted the breast plate from the King's chest. The King made a guttural wheezing sound as the armour was lifted, the rawness of the noise sending shivers through those present.
"Why the horse, my Lord Elrond?" he asked.
"He will die if he stays here. The air is foul, and there is little at my disposal," Lord Elrond replied, beginning to remove him own armour. "My only choice is to get him back to the Halls of the Greenwood with all haste."
"But he will not survive the journey!" the Captain protested.
"It does look unlikely, I will not lie. But if he stays here, he will most certainly not see out the night. If I take him, there is a chance."
"My lord, look at him!"
"Get me a silk sheet and a cloak," Lord Elrond ordered, ignoring the Captain's protestations.
"My lord, surely this is folly…"
"Now!" Lord Elrond ordered, undoing his own breast plate.
"My lord, he needs not a cloak. He is burning."
"And soon he shall freeze!" There was a note in the great Lord's voice that scared the Captain. A few moments later, the sheet and cloak had been brought. Lord Elrond washed his hands in a bowl of water and commanded the other elves to do so also. Then he instructed them as to how to lift the unconscious King into a sitting position. Lord Elrond wrapped the sheet around the King. Then the cloak was placed gently on the King's shoulders, and the hood brought up over his head. The Captain thought it looked quite scary, a white sheet in a dark cloak. He thought Lord Elrond must be mad. The Halls of the Greenwood were many leagues to the south. He would never make it back with the King still alive. This was madness. The sergeant who had been dispatched to fetch the horse returned. "Be so very gentle with him," Lord Elrond ordered, as the elves carefully lifted the King from the table. Lord Elrond mounted the horse and the elves carefully lifted up their King's limp body. Lord Elrond held the tall King awkwardly. "The Valar will grant him strength," he said to the stunned looking elves in front of him. The Lord Elrond gave the horse the reins, and cantered off through the encampment toward the forest.
As Lord Elrond and the King disappeared from sight, the cries of "victory!" rang out from the field below the encampment. The Captain looked at his Lieutenant, and put his hand on his comrade's shoulder. They had won the day, but what had been the price?