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The Prisoner of Dol Guldur
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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4
Part 4

For disclaimer, rating, etc. see Part 1.

Author’s note: Perladiel is another nameless movie character from Uruviel’s Argonath page. According to that site, the name was created by the Barrow-downs name generator, thus it is not a genuine Elven one. She is a russet-haired lady Elf, promoted to healer by Isabeau of Greenlea. I might change the name to a genuine one later, though.

Beta read, as always, by Makamu. All remaining mistakes are mine.


~~~

“To the left stood a great mound, covered with a sward of grass as green as Spring-time in the Elder Days. Upon it, as a double crown, grew two circles of trees: the outer had bark of snowy white, and were leafless but beautiful in their shapely nakedness; the inner were mallorn-trees of great height, still arrayed in pale gold. High amid the branches of a towering tree that stood in the centre of all there gleamed a white flet. At the feet of the trees, and all about the green hillsides the grass was studded with small golden flowers shaped like stars. Among them, nodding on slender stalks, were other flowers, white and palest green: they glimmered as a mist amid the rich hue of the grass. Overall the sky was blue, and the sun of afternoon glowed upon the hill and cast long green shadows beneath the trees.

‘Behold! You are come to Cerin Amroth,’ said Haldir. ‘For this is the heart of the ancient realm as it was long ago, and here is the mound of Amroth, where in happier days his high house was built. Here ever bloom the winter flowers in the unfading grass: the yellow elanor, and the pale niphredil. Here we will stay awhile, and come to the city of the Galadhrim at dusk.’”

The Fellowship of the Ring – Lothlórien, p. 454


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
The journey on the Great River took but a few days. When they reached the spot where the Celebrant joined Anduin, the Elves of Mirkwood parted company with their Lórien kindred. While Celeborn and Galadriel continued their journey on foot to the eastern part of the forest and to Caras Galadhon, eventually, Haldir and his brothers led Thranduil and his small escort to Cerin Amroth. They intended to spend some time in their home of old, mourning their father and letting their hearts heal in solitude.

On the talan, where once King Amroth’s royal home had stood, a simple tree house had been built already – not very different from the dozens and hundreds scattered across the trees of Lothlórien, but a pleasant one nevertheless, with high, arched windows that were open to the air. One of those silken grey blankets of the Galadhrim served as a door, and when one had pushed past it, one entered an airy, comfortable room lit by screened silver lanterns, which were in daily use in the Golden Wood. In the middle, a mattress fastened to a wooden frame lay on the floor, covered with soft white sheets and pillows and more blankets. A wash-stand stood in the background, and a second bed for the one who was to remain with the ailing one had been placed nearby.

Haldir’s grown sons and daughter, left behind with a few troops to protect this most cherished place of the forest, came forth to greet them, and they had the stretcher on which Enadar lay pulled up to the house with the help of ropes, as they did not want to drag him up the ladders. Perladiel, the chief healer of the Golden Wood came to look after the patient. She righted the broken ribs, examined and changed the bandages and poultices that had been applied before leaving the naked hill of Dol Guldur, but seemed not all too worried with what she had found.

“The older wounds have not healed properly,” she told the King, “and there will be a lot of scarring, no matter what we might try. Still, he has been fortunate that none of the infections led to blood poisoning. Nor will he remain crippled if I can help it.”

“He is so horribly thin,” said Thranduil, concerned, “half starved, it seems to me. Will he ever be able to regain some of his strength? He looks more like a wraith, one of the houseless spirits of old the tales, than an Elf.”

“He is nearly gone,” Perladiel agreed, “and the lack of water has damaged him more than the lack of food. Still, I believe that his strength could return, at least partially, if he is treated in the right way.”

“What is your advice?” asked Thranduil. “What shall we do?”

“He needs to be fed a lot, but carefully,” said the healer. “Do not give him anything heavier than lembas and fruits during the first moon. Then you can try porridge and soup. Remember, his stomach must get used to food that is actually cooked again. I wish I could ask Calaglinel about Orc-food; alas, she has been slain during the last attack, and she rarely spoke about earlier times. We shall have to try different things and see what works. Lord Elrond might have a few suggestions of his own, once he arrives.”

“What about water?” Thranduil insisted. “He seems so horribly thirsty every time he comes to… should we let him drink his fill?”

“Nay,” Perladiel shook her head, “that would only upset his stomach. Let him drink every time he wants to, but only a few sips, until he learns that no-one would deny him water ever again – which, I deem, would be his greatest fear right now.”

“Even if his body heals,” said Alagos, “his mind may never recover from the terrors of the dungeons. Can we do aught to help him?”

“I know not,” admitted Perladiel. “Mayhap if you ask the Lady…”

“Never,” interrupted Thranduil, more harshly than intended.

“She has worked wonders with Calaglinel,” said the healer mildly.

But Thranduil shook his head determinedly. “No son of mine shall ever be poked in their minds by Artanis. I will not let his inmost thoughts be violated.”

“She might be your son’s only hope,” warned him Perladiel.

“That I do not believe,” said Thranduil. “My son has a family: a father, siblings, an aunt, an uncle, a cousin and many more who love him and care for him. Our way may be longer, the pace to walk it slow, but at least it will not destroy what little there is left of his dignity.”

“You would trust Elrond but not the Lady Artanis?” asked Alagos with an arched eyebrow.

“I fought on Elrond’s side,” replied Thranduil. “You come to know people in battle. I might not approve of everything he has done, but Legolas trusts him, and my youngest son is a good judge of hearts. Of Artanis, I still know not what to think.”

“They both will be gone to the West, soon,” said Alagos. “In a short time, we will be the only Elves in Middle-earth. We, the Faithful. Even you will set sail one day, my King. Everyone but us will leave.”

“I shall not leave for a long time yet,” Thranduil took a damp cloth and washed his son’s face gently with it; Eradan was running a light fever. “I have just found a very good reason to stay here.”

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Even in his sleep, he had been aware of the changes. The almost forgotten rhythm of day and night, the boat mooring, the gentle sway of the stretcher, held by steady hands. The smells in the air getting richer with the intoxicating scent of fresh green, of trees, flowers and wild berries. The soft, low voices murmuring around him, then bursting into song. The cup with fresh water touching his dry lips, the silky coolness of water sliding down his burning and aching throat, soothing it. Strong arms holding him in a protective embrace, and the beautiful voice of Ada singing to him softly in the darkness that was now without fear and pain.

He could have stayed like this ‘til the end of Arda.

But Ada kept calling out to him, calling him out of his wonderful hiding place, begging him to return. That confused him. There, he was safe and comfortable, even happy. Why would Ada want him to leave his peaceful safety?

He had the eerie feeling of flying freely through rarely the air, leaving the earth far below, and for a moment, he panicked. But the strange sensation was over soon enough, and he felt something solid, albeit soft, beneath him. There were voices around him again, the familiar one of Ada that he loved so much, a harsher one that he seemed to know from somewhere, too, and the third one, that of a woman, that he could not remember having heard before. They talked about him… and about a green leaf, which was strange. Why should they talk about leaves?

Someone did something to his wounds, it hurt a little at first, but afterwards he felt much better, and the pain faded away. Ada spoke to him again, it sounded so very sad, he felt sorry for Ada who had been so nice to him…

Mayhap if he opened his eyes, just a little, it would make Ada feel better?

He risked a tiny crack, still expecting the light to hurt his eyes, but just like before, it did not. He was in some kind of chamber, lying on a soft mattress, but he could feel the closeness of an ancient tree, for the first time since he had fallen into darkness. The thoughts of the tree, slowly flowing like the green juices under its bark and so very wise, soothed his mind, and he discovered with relief that the ceiling above him was made of tree branches, woven together with great skill like a screen, and dimmed sunlight leaked through it. He could remember another chamber like this, long ago, when he was little. It was called home.

He turned his head a little and saw Ada sitting on the edge of his mattress, looking at him with love and sorrow. Suddenly the memory of a boat ride with other small elflings and a tall, golden-haired Elf sitting in the rear end surfaced again. Now he could see the face of that Elf, and he knew who it was.

“F-father,” he said, not in Sindarin but in the archaic Silvan dialect of his mother. “You... are… my f-father.”

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