S.A. 1697 Ethuil (Spring)
War had such an ugly face. One had only to look upon the lands of Arda to see its destructive nature. The toll could be seen worn on the faces of the refuges who fled its horrors. The small band of weary survivors was seeking a valley where it was said that Elrond Half-elven, herald to the High King, was building a haven called Imladris. A sanctuary from war, where all would be welcomed. They were just one family, one family who had made it safely from the ruins of Eregion. But the path their journey took them on was not a safe one. Only one, a small Elfling, would make it to Imladris, for he was rescued by Elrond Peredhel himself.
His name was Erestor.
Elrond placed the small Elfling on a cot in the healer’s tent. The little one was covered in wounds and as still as death. The small face was dominated by large chocolate eyes that titled slightly at the corners, giving his face a slightly exotic look unusual in Elves. His black hair and brows stood out starkly against the milky paleness of his skin. Elrond cleaned the little face gently. He watched the little one closely, trying to gauge any response. Elrond judged, *his* for it was quickly determined that the child was male, age to be around 22. In human years, he would be equivalent to an 8 year old. The large eyes stared blankly in the distance. Elrond realized that the little one was in shock. He could only guess at the horror the Elfling had seen and been subjected to. Elrond silently washed and treated the child’s wounds. Bite marks, lash marks, and finger impressions covered the small upper body. But it was the emotional wounds that Elrond was most worried about.
Elrond tenderly brushed back a lock of hair, tucking it behind one delicate pointed ear. "Pen dithen, can you tell me your name?" Elrond asked, but the little face was still; no flicker of the eyes indicated acknowledgment of the question. Elrond carefully dressed the small form in a nightshirt. The child looked even more fragile as Elrond’s large garment swallowed him. Next Elrond brought a cup to the child’s lips. A few drops of water flowed past pale lips and into the small body. Elrond tucked the covers tightly around the small form before leaving the tent.
Elrond looked about the chaos that was his haven. Construction had barely begun and every day more and more Elves seeking shelter arrived. Most were living in tents, just as he himself was. But completion on the first structure was almost finished. Elrond had determined that a healing house was the first priority, even before rooms for himself.
"Glassmiauth," he called. His Seneschal approached and bowed to his Lord. "Were you able to gather any information from the remains?" he asked. They had stumbled upon a party of Orcs while returning from a meeting in Lindon with the High King. It was not until after the battle that the small survivor was discovered. The Orcs had been brutal. Remains of Elves were partially roasted, and body parts littered the campsite. It had been a massacre. The small child had been bound to a stake, very near the large camp fire. That he had been witness to the carnage was apparent.
"Yes, Híren. We found some clothing, a few pieces of jewelry, and a journal. It appears the party was survivors of Eregion, and on their way here. From what we can gather the group was a small family. The remains indicated two adults and one other child." Glassmiauth looked sadly at his Lord. "The pen dithen is now an orphan. I would say that we arrived just in time."
Elrond thanked his Seneschal and ordered an increase in the patrols. He did not like that Orcs had ventured so close to his newly created sanctuary. He turned to re-enter the tent, freezing in surprise, for there stood the little Elfling, night-shirt dragging the ground. The small solemn face stared up at him. Elrond’s heart clenched when tiny arms were lifted in mute appeal. He tenderly picked the child up and hugged the chilled body.
Elrond turned to face his Seneschal.
"The child’s name is Erestor," Glassmiauth said.
Elrond gazed down into the little blank face. "Erestor, so that is your name." He placed a kiss softly on the child’s head. "Come, Erestor, it is time for little ones to sleep."
Many in Imladris grew accustomed to the sight of the great Elf-lord and his silent shadow, for everywhere Elrond went, Erestor followed. The Elfling spoke not a word. There were, however, some who regarded the small figure a little uncomfortably. It was not natural, they whispered. Not natural for an Elfling to not act as an Elfling should. For not only were no words heard to pass the little one’s lips, no smiles, laughter, and emotion of any kind was ever seen on that lovely face. For the little Elf was a beauty. It could be seen that the dark-haired child would grow into a lovely Elf. His eyes were deep and dark, and he had night-hued hair that grew so long Elrond had to cut it so the child would not trip. Silently the little figure would travel the halls, always a step behind his Lord.
Elrond grew quickly to love his ward, for Erestor, since the moment he had lifted slight arms to the Elf-Lord, had captured the Peredhel’s heart. He grew accustomed to the silence, the emotionless face, and the ease in which Erestor fit into his life. Nightly, he would gather Erestor on his lap and read to him the great lore of Arda. He shared his love of healing through one-sided discussions of herbs and potions. He never tried to force Erestor to speak, understanding that the child must heal in his own way and time. Elrond was very aware of the ill ease some felt around the Elfing, but none ever showed anything but the utmost respect for the child. Elrond was fiercely protective of his young charge and none dared displease the King’s herald.
The work continued for many years to make Imladris truly the haven Elrond envisioned. While news from the outside world was most often dark and troublesome, Elrond could escape from it in his plans and dreams for Rivendell. Elrond also found that Erestor’s presence in his life brought him joy and peace, seemingly to complete his life. Though young Erestor never spoke, never asked questions, he became Elrond’s right arm. Erestor often anticipated his Lord’s needs before Elrond was even aware of them himself, and if Elrond was protective of his ward, than Erestor was a dragon in guarding *his* Elrond. The mute Elf had a way of making his displeasure known; those mysterious dark eyes would land on an Elf and though not a word was said, the meaning was clear to all. As Erestor grew, night-colored hair and eyes were matched with black robes. Few were brave enough to go against the dark-Elf’s wishes.
Erestor learned quickly to write in a fine hand, and handled all his Lord’s correspondences. Maps, supply lists, and household inventories were more and more often handled by the silent Erestor. A nod or bow of acknowledgement was all one would receive upon making a request, but despite this non-vocal communication, Imladris became the show place of efficiency, thanks to Erestor’s efficiency.
Times became dark as a shadow crept across the land. Messages flew back and forth between the High King and his herald. Rumors grew of Sauron’s return to the land of Mordor. The rumors were proven true just the next year, when Sauron launched an assault on Gondor. Minas Ithil fell to the Dark Lord. The High King carried the news of Gondor’s fall to his herald himself, and he brought with him a very special Elf.
Elrond greeted his friend and King with subdued joy, for the news of the downfall of the Númenor had preceded the King. Gil-galad shared a saddened embrace with Elrond before turning and drawing a golden-hair Elf forward.
"Elrond, I present to you Glorfindel, Lord of the House of The Golden Flower. He has been returned to us in our hour of need." Gil-galad lay a hand on the fair-haired Elf Lord’s arm and drew him forward.
"Glorfindel, may I present my herald and the grandson of your former lady, Lord Elrond."
Glorfindel warmly reached out and embraced the shocked half-Elf. "You have the look of your father, pen-neth."
Elrond looked up into twinkling sky blue eyes. He was silent as he took in the Elda’s appearance. Glorfindel of the golden hair was a magnificent sight. His aptly named mane was long, flowing to the Elda’s waist, unadorned it shone like Anor’s rays. His eyes were bits of trapped sky which still reflected the light that was Valinor. The warrior’s frame gave credence to his heroic history. Strong and broad was the Elda, returned whole by the Valar to aid them in these dark times.
Glorfindel stepped back from the silent awe-struck herald. He formally bowed to the Elf-Lord. "By the will of the Valar, I have been returned to serve you, Híren. Just as I once served your grandfather and grandmother." The Elda knelt down and offered his sword to the Peredhel. "I am your Seneschal from this day forward, Lord Elrond."
Elrond warmly drew the blond up and offering him a kiss of peace, taking the blond into his arms. "Proud would I be to have you by my side, Lord Glorfindel. I will thank the Valar daily for your return. You are most welcome, my Lord." Elrond led the High King and Glorfindel into the main hall of Imladris. Refreshments and quarters were quickly readied for the honored guest.
The High King looked around at the servants bustling to and fro, "Tell me, Elrond where is your shadow. It is not like him not to be right behind you."
Elrond looked over at a corner in the hall. The cubbyhole was darker than the rest of the hall, thus a much better place to observe with out being seen in return. "Erestor," he called, but the darkly clad Elf turned and fled. Elrond shrugged apologetically at his King. "You know how Erestor is, my Lord. He would not willingly come forward with this many strangers in Imladris." Elrond turned to the confused blond. "I am sorry, Glorfindel, but my ward is quite shy and does not care for so many unfamiliar faces in his home. I am sure you two will meet at a later date." Elrond signaled a servant to lead his guest to their prepared rooms with promises of a feast in their honor that very night.
Despite the joyous return of Glorfindel and his subsequent joining of the household, the Kings news inflicted a shadow over all. Elrond was instructed to prepare Imladris for a council. A meeting of the King of Men and the King of Elves was drawing near and Imladris was to host such an event. Elrond kept Erestor close to him as more and more arrived to discuss the threat of Sauron. None were introduced to the herald’s ward, only told that the Elf was mute and not to be approached. Elrond lovingly protected Erestor, who was painfully shy and held a deep-seated mistrust of strangers. Many shifted away from the dark eyes that traveled shyly among the new arrivals, seeming to see more than others. Even the High King himself, often known for his tactless humor and mischievousness nature did not bother the dark shadow that stood just behind Elrond’s shoulder.
The Last Alliance was formed. Elrond studied the map laid out in front of him. Elven armies and mortal soldiers would fight side by side against the Dark Lord. Despite the revealed treachery of the Elves and the truth of the Rings of Power, despite the arrogance of Isildur, the Prince of Men, and despite the apparent hopelessness of their quest, the Alliance held. The time had come for war. Weapons were welded, horses gathered, and warriors called from across the lands.
Elrond snapped orders to every available servant. He armed himself, forgoing a squire’s service. Instructions were handed out for the duration of his absence, and in the likelihood that he did not return, final orders were issued to his staff. He pulled Erestor to the side and told his charge one thing. If he fell in battle, Erestor was to escape to the Havens and take ship to the Undying Lands. Instructions for the dark Elf had already been left with Círdan, the Lord of the Havens. Elrond then took Erestor’s hand and for the first time since Imladris began to fill with so many strange Elves, Erestor joined his Lord for breakfast.
Glorfindel ignored his Lord’s scowl as he inspected the half-Elf’s weapons and steed. He looked a little past the Elf-lord’s shoulder and saw the small dark-haired Elf who never spoke. He lowered his voice. "My Lord, may I ask you something?"
Elrond saw where the blonde’s eyes had settled and turned back around to regard the Elda with a frown even more fierce. "Of course, Glorfindel. What is it you would like to know?"
Glorfindel ignore the warning that could be heard in Elrond’s voice. "That silent Elf, your ward, why does he not speak, my Lord?"
Elrond jerked the bridle of his horse out of Glorfindel’s hands. His words rang with a clear warning. "Erestor is under my protection, Glorfindel. He is not to be approached; stay away from him," he ordered.
Glorfindel eyed his Lord in surprise. The gossip had been correct, then. The half-Elf was extremely protective of his charge. Glorfindel wondered if there was more to their relationship than met the eye, but he realized that now was not the time to push the issue, and wisely backed away.
Elrond moved his horse over to Erestor and looked down into those chocolate depths. The mute Elf was pale and for the very first time since the day Elrond had rescued him, a true emotion could be seen in those dark orbs. It was desperation and fear that Elrond read on the silent Elf’s face. He attempted to smile at Erestor, hoping that would reassure. His words were meant to comfort as well. "I love you, pen dithen. Remember my instructions." Elrond gave the pale hands that reached for him one more squeeze before turning his horse away. He got close to the front gate when he heard a hoarse cry behind him. Wheeling his horse around, he stared in shock at the sight of Erestor running towards him. Quickly, Elrond dismounted and caught the sobbing Elf in his arms.
He heard Erestor whisper, "D-don’t g-go." Elrond cupped Erestor’s face in his palms, he could not control his joyous cry. "You spoke!"
Gently he drew Erestor into his arms, cradling the dark head on his shoulder. "Shush," he crooned. "Don’t cry, pen dithen. I will do everything in my power to return to you. But you must promise me something when I return."
Erestor looked up into his smiling Lord’s silvery eyes. "W-what?" he whispered.
Elrond gave a joyous laugh. "That when I return you will accept a position as my Chief Councilor, and that means that you will have to speak on a daily basis."
Erestor tried to smile at Elrond; he tightly clenched the half-Elf to him. "I-I will t-try."
To be continued...