Pen Dhínen
Chapter Two

S.A. 1697 Gwirith

I set out with my Seneschal Glassmiauth and a small patrol. The intent was to explore more of the lands around my valley. My valley, my Imladris. Already in my head I could picture the main house with its tower, where a bell would signal meals or the need of council. I could pin-point exactly where the stables and forge would be built. We had constructed a temporary wooden bridge across the Bruinen, and I had discussed already the desire for a stone one to be built. This would be the main path, from the Ford into the deep valley, cutting through the Moors that sloped up the Misty Mountains. Treacherous and difficult would be the journey into the valley, enabling Imaldris to remain safe from unfriendly intentions. A secret path to the south of this one, I thought, would be the safe entrance. A path only known to friends.

We followed the Bruinen to where it met the Great East Road turning past it, southwest we traveled encountering rougher terrain as we got closer to Hollin Ridge. I heard the scout’s signal just as Glassmiauth did. We watched as Peilath scrambled from some rocks and approached us quickly. Peilath halted before us. "My Lord," he bowed briefly to me before hurriedly addressing the Seneschal. "Captain, there is a hunting party of Yrch about ten miles up the hills. They appear to have captives." Glassmiauth and I exchanged a worried look.

"Numbers?" he asked his scout.

"About thirty," answered Peilath.

I ignored the concerned look Glassmiauth sent me, knowing he was wishing I was safely back in Imaldris. "If they have captives, we have no time to waste, Glassmiauth. Give your instructions," I sternly ordered.

"Rindo adel ven," Glassmiauth ordered. Peilath and the archers moved quickly ahead to set up a perimeter around the Yrch camp. Because of the daylight, the Yrch had camped deep into the rocks and ravines that made up the territory in between Imladris and the road to Moria. If we could surround them, then the element of surprise would work heavily in our favor. I watched silently from my place beside Glassmiauth as the Yrch below us ravaged their meal. The smell had reached us long before we had seen any sign of their camp; the stench of burnt flesh told me of what the Yrch dined on. Their camp was littered with the bodies. Limbs were flung about the camp, with no regard for the humanity of any living creature. I had to bow my head to hide my tearing eyes. I was certain that there were no survivors to be found. I felt the fires of vengeance burn deep into my belly as I watched them fight over what was once a living creature of Arda.

Chaos over ran the camp as the first Elvish arrows flew true. Scattered and caught unawares, the Yrch quickly fell prey to the skill of our superior warriors. I moved around the camp checking each injury, relieved that none of my people sustained serious hurt.

"My Lord," Glassmiauth called to me.

Silence fell in the camp as all eyes landed on the small form held tightly in the Seneschal’s arms. I could not believe my eyes, and I held out trembling arms for the small Elfling. There was a survivor! The little one was tense but did not fight me as I gathered him close. He stared wide-eyed at the surrounding Elves. I carefully kneeled and sat the silent figure upon the ground. I had to gently pry the small bruised arms from around my neck.

I stared down into the largest darkest eyes I had ever seen on any Elf. I tried to smile reassuringly at the Elfling, but the child just stared blankly back at me. I looked up at my Seneschal, glad to see that his eyes were also moist. The little Elfling was so very lucky! If we had only delayed a brief moment... I shuddered and quickly forced those thoughts away. My trained eyes ran quickly over the Elfling's nude form, spying no life- threatening injuries, but what I did see turned my stomach.

I carefully held a cup of water to the Elfling’s lips. I sighed, glad to see the little one drinking. I dressed the worst of the bites and bruises, conscious all the while of those large dark eyes watching me. I accepted the tunic Glassmiauth handed me and pulled it over the Elfling’s body, then lifted the heavy black tresses and smoothed them back away from the little ones face.

I picked the Elfling back up and stood holding him securely. I met those night-hued eyes with my own grey gaze. "Man enneth lin?" I asked, but my words were met only with the same blank stare. "Heniach nin?" I tried again, but still the child did not speak. I could only squeeze the little form and speak what I hoped was reassuringly. "Come, pen dhien, and let us take you home."

I had tucked the small Elfling who we had learned was called Erestor into a cot in my own tent. The little one had followed me both times I had attempted to put him to bed elsewhere. Finally I gave up and had the servants bring a cot to my own tent. Erestor watched me closely; never to my knowledge, did his eyes leave my form. He had also not spoken a word. I had gotten him to drink a little more and partake of some fruit. I tried not to flinch away from those dark eyes, the small Elfling’s stare could make even me, a battle-tested Elf-lord uneasy. After I tucked the blankets close around the little form, I moved wearily to my own bed.

I lay silently, head still clouded by sleep, straining my hearing. I was not sure what had woken me, but then I heard it again. A small whimper like an animal in pain. Quickly I sat up. The sound was coming from the Elfling’s cot. I moved over and sat next to Erestor, not at all surprised to see the gleam of his eyes focus on me. I smoothed a strand of that silky dark hair away from his little faces tucking it behind a tiny ear.

"Can you not rest, pen dhinen?" I asked.

The small head gave a negative shake. I moved the blankets back and tenderly picked up the small unresisting body. I carried Erestor back to my own cot and tucked us both under the covers. Erestor wrapped little arms tight around me and tucked his head under my chin. We both settled down, and finding rest after that was surprisingly easy.

To be continued...