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The Prisoner of Dol Guldur
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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3
Part 3

For disclaimer, rating, etc. see Part 1.

Author’s note: The timeline might be a little tweaked here, but not very much. Actually, the opening quote is the only thing that might be timely a little misplaced.


~~~

PART 3

“In the North also there had been war and evil. The realm of Thranduil was invaded, and there was long battle under the trees and great ruin of fire; but in the end Thranduil had the victory. And on the day of the New Year of the Elves, Celeborn and Thranduil met in the midst of the forest; and they renamed Mirkwood Eryn Lasgalen, the Wood of Greenleaves. Thranduil took all the northern region as far as the mountains that rise in the forest for his realm; and Celeborn took the southern wood below the Narrow, and named it East Lórien.”

The Return of the King, Appendix B – The Tale of the Years, p. 472.


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Someone brought another bowl of water, and one of the healers began to wash the prisoner’s hair – no-one could bring it upon their hearts to actually call him Enadar or their prince yet, the damage was too great for them to cope with right now. Several turns of washing and rinsing later, the hair was finally clean and less brittle – yet also snow white. It was a shocking sight, as Elves actually did not turn grey, not even at a very high age, unless they went through something truly terrible. The only known Elf in Middle-earth with white hair was Old Galion, who had witnessed the destruction of the First City of the Quendi by Melkor’s fire demons, after all.

“He will need clothes,” said Thranduil, “but the rough garb we wear in battle would hurt him even more. Can you lend us something, cousin?”

Celeborn nodded, his heart breaking for his nephew whom he had never seen before, and turned to his aide, a young Silvan Elf of Lórien.

“Bring us the blankets from my bag, Faelon,” he said. “They should be soft enough.”

The young aide returned in no time with the silky soft grey blankets made only in Lothlórien in these times. They wrapped Enadar in several layers to warm him up, and two of the Mirkwood Elves were busily preparing a stretcher already.

“Are you certain that dragging him all the way back to your fortress would be wise?” asked Celeborn quietly. “We have come by boat; it would be easier for him to travel on the River.”

“He needs to be at home,” replied Thranduil, clutching the hand of his newly found son as if he feared that someone would take him away again. With his people and his family.”

Celeborn gave his cousin a long look, full of sorrow. “Am I not family? Are we not your people – and his?”

Thranduil could not answer at once. True enough; they had been raised as brothers, long ago, back in the enchanted woods of Doriath. Before its destruction by the obsessed sons of Fëanor. Before Celeborn married the Warrior Princess of the Noldor and they became estranged as a result.

“Think of this,” continued Celeborn. “Where you dwell now, where you have dwelt all this Age, has never been your son’s home. He used to live in Oropher’s tree city in the Emyn Duir. I think not that after an Age in a dungeon living in underground caverns would suit him.”

Thranduil hesitated for a moment, but when he caught a glimpse of Galadriel watching them intently, he shook his head.

“Nay, I shall not take my son to Caras Galadhon. He can have a tree house back home, just like the one in which he was born.”

Celeborn smiled but the hurt was clearly visible in his darkening eyes. It seemed two entire Ages had been too short a time for his cousin to change his view about Galadriel. Alas, that could not be helped. But the Lord of the Trees was determined not to let Thranduil endanger his son any more, out of sheer stubbornness.

“You need not to come to our city if it displeases you so much,” he said, “although Legolas seemed to like it well enough during his visit. But you can dwell on Cerin Amroth, until your son regains some of his strength. Amroth’s house is long gone, but there still is a wide talan on the royal mallorn, and I can have a temporary dwelling place made by the time we reach Lothlórien.”

Thranduil was still not willing to give in so easily, but Alagos, who had been listening to them all the time, now found it necessary to intervene.

“The Lord Galdaran is right, my King,” he said, calling Celeborn by the name by which the woodland folk knew him. “Cerin Amroth would be better for your son to heal. And Legolas could reach the two of you much faster and easier there.”

That was an argument that crushed the King’s resistance more than anything else. He longed to see his youngest son – his only son for the last three thousand years – again. And Legolas deserved to meet his long lost brother, too, regardless in which shape Enadar was or if he would ever recover.

“Very well,” he sighed. “Send our people back to the fortress, with instructions for Maelduin(3) to rule in my name ‘til I return. I want you and your archers with me – and no-one else.”

Alagos nodded. “As you wish, my King. I shall endeavour to contact my own kin that still live on this side of the Nimrodel. There are very few of the Faithful left, but they will come and assist us.”

“Good,” said Thranduil, only half his mind on the matter, while rocking his sleeping son in his arms. “I shall leave everything in your capable hands. I need to be with my son now.”

“We well leave at daybreak,” Celeborn told the Dark Elf, and Alagos hurried off to get everything taken care of in time.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
There was still darkness around him when he opened his eyes, but this darkness was soft and warm. And there was a slight, far-away glimmer above him that did not hurt his eyes – the silver starlight, barely shining through the clouds of the night skies. He was wrapped in something soft that felt pleasant to the touch, and the surface he was laying upon was rocking slightly, very slightly. It caused him no pain at all. He could hear the soft murmurs of running water, the slight splashing of tiny waves against wood and slowly realized that he was travelling on water. Most likely in a boat.

Smudged memories of another river, swift and loud in a deep bed between tall trees came to him. Of small, auburn-haired, pointy-eared creatures padding and laughing and shrieking in pleasure – had he possibly been one of those? And of a tall figure sitting in the rear end of the boat, steering it with a steady hand and a leaf shaped oar, his hair gleaming in the sunlight like pure honey.

He risked opening his eyes again, just a crack – it still did not hurt. That was strange, he had half-assumed that seeing the starlight had been naught but another vague dream. Just like the boat and that voice calling his name.

But nay. He was still warm and safe and without pain – well, without too much pain anywise – a strong hand holding his head and the smooth rim of a wooden cup touching his parched lips.

The scent of fresh water, missed so long, maddened him. He wanted to drink in big, greedy gulps until he gorged in it. The hand took away the cup too soon, though, and he whimpered in despair, his throat raw, his entire body yearning for water, more water to quench the horrible thirst that seemed to tear his dried-out husk apart.

“Not so hastily,” the voice murmured, and a few more sips were offered to him. “You must be careful, my son. Just a few sips at a time. There will be more later.”

He did not truly believe it – there was never enough water, and right now, the entire river would have been too little – yet the promise comforted him nonetheless. Somewhere in his still muddy mind he seemed to know that that voice had never lied to him. That it always kept its promises.

From the corner of his painfully dry eye he saw a golden gleam above him. He squinted a little, trying to clear up his foggy vision, and saw whit pounding heart a noble face, beautiful beyond imagination, beyond any fragmented memories, framed by long, honey-coloured hair. A pair of starlit grey eyes turned to him, full of joy and sorrow at the same time.

He knew that face. He knew those eyes. They belonged to the voice in his dreams. There was a word, a sweet word meaning them all: the face, the eyes, the voice, the golden hair, the strong and gentle hands… If he could only remember…

A-ada?” he stammered, his own voice too loud and harsh in his ears, trembling with fear that he might have said the wrong thing. He could not remember the meaning of the word, too many words had got lost, but he hoped it was the right one.

The grey eyes filled with joyful tears, and the steady voice now trembled, for the first time.

“That is right, my son,” it whispered. “Ada is here.”

He sighed in relief. He had been right, had said the right thing. Mayhap this Ada could tell him what he wanted to know most.

“M-my… n-name,” he forced it out, his throat hurt badly, but he needed to know, needed it more than he needed water. “T-tell me…”

“Your name is Enadar,” the voice said as more water was offered to him,” and you are my son.”

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
“He cannot understand you, my King,” said Alagos quietly, “and he shall not, not for quite some time yet. He has been retreating into himself for a very long time, the only place that seemed safe to him. It will take time for him to come out of hiding again.”

“How long?” asked Thranduil. Alagos shrugged; there was no way to know.

“That I cannot tell. It took years for my brother, but he was halfway twisted into an Orc already. It can happen faster or slower... we cannot know. It may also happen, too, that the prince will never become again what he once used to be.”

“That matters not,” said the King. “He is my son. Whether he will have his own mind, that of a small child or that of a wild beast, I am his father and I shall take care of him. The Valar were gracious to give him back – whatever is left of him, I will accept it gladly.”

“You should appoint a guardian to him,” advised the Dark Elf. “The Council cannot rule your realm forever. You shall be needed in the coming years, to rebuild all that has been lost in this long war. The prince, though, will need someone with him all the time. I would volunteer, but my skills in woodcraft will be needed elsewhere, until the entire forest is cleaned of the yrch and other fell creatures.”

“Old Galion would do it gladly, I deem,” said Thranduil. “He helped to raise each generation of our House. If anyone can bring my son back, he can.”

“A good choice,” Alagos agreed. “He will be gentle and patient but also stern if he has to… there is hope that the prince will remember him, given enough time.”

“Will he ever remember me?” asked Thranduil, his voice full of suppressed pain.

“There is no way to tell, my King,” Alagos was not an Elf to tell lies, not even to spare someone else’s feelings,” but I hope he will. He has already recognized you… in a manner. He knows you are someone he can trust – ‘tis not a small thing from someone who has been through so much. Even if he never gets any further, at least you will always have that.”

Thranduil sighed. “I know I should be grateful. And truly, I am. But… is it wrong to hope for even more? To wish I could get him back as he used to be?”

“Nay,” replied the Dark Elf, his voice uncommonly gentle. “We all hope for more, all the time, or else we would have given up the fight long ago and gone to the Havens. Who knows, mayhap living in a tree again, being taken care of by his old tutor might awake the buried memories. He is still an Elf, no matter what happened to him. He can heal, if he only wants it badly enough.”

“I hear Elrond is coming through Lothlórien, soon,” murmured Thranduil. “He is the best healer of our kind – he might be able to help.”

Knowing his King’s stubborn pride and his long-held grudge against the Lord of Imladris, Alagos shot him a surprised look. “You are willing to ask him?”

“If it means help for my son, I am willing to beg him on my knees,” answered Thranduil dryly. “Though I think not that it would come to that. He is a healer, and he is a father himself. He will help if he can.”

~~~

(1) Faelon is actually a movie character from Elrond’s council, played by Justin McKenzie. I adopted him because he had brown hair.

(2) Galdaran was an early name for Celeborn in HoME 7 – “The Treason of Isengard”. It sounds a little more Wood-Elvish to me, so I assumed that it was used in the family and among the Silvan folk and the Avari.

(3) In my settings, Maelduin is the husband of Thranduil’s sister, Nelladel. He had a sister who married Celeborn’s brother Galathil. Maelduin followed Oropher to the Greenwood after the fall of Doriath and has been Thranduil’s chief counsellor and the tutor of his children ever since. Having been a devoted follower of Elu Thingol, he is not very fond of the Noldor, either, and supported Kings Amdír and Amroth against Galadriel… well, at least morally.


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