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The Prisoner of Dol Guldur
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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7
Part 7

For disclaimer, rating, etc. see Part 1.

Author’s note:
The idea of Elrond having in-born healing abilities is in no way based on canon. It is simply my idea – since he had a Maia as his foremother, it is not entirely out of question, I think. Also, this is book!Elrond we meet here – you know, the one who is strong like a great warrior, wise like the best scholars, venerable like a king of Dwarves and as kind as summer. He has no likeness whatsoever with his movie counterpart – neither in his looks, nor in his moods and manners. Just that it is clear.

The opening quote might seem a little odd in the context – I chose it to show whom Aragorn had learned his healer’s ethics from. The last segment mentions events described in more detail in the first chapter of All Alone in the Night.


~~~

PART 7

“Aragorn went first to Faramir, and then to the Lady Éowyn, and at last to Merry. When he had looked on the faces of the sick and seen their hurts, he sighed. ‘Here I must put forth all such power and skills as is given to me,’ he said. ‘Would that Elrond were here, for he is the eldest of all our race, and has the greater power.’

And Éomer seeing that he was both sorrowful and weary said: ‘First you must rest, surely, and at least eat a little?’

But Aragorn answered: ‘Nay, for these three, and most soon for Faramir, time is running out. All speed is needed.’”

The Return of the King, Chapter 8: The Houses of Healing, p. 165


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
He did not know how much time he had spent already in this dream-like existence. The concept of time was still elusive for him, after having survived for so long in the timeless darkness. There were moments he still feared to lose himself.

He was vaguely aware of the room around him. He could feel the thoughts of the tree that held the room in the gentle embrace of its branches… ancient and deep thoughts, for the tree was old, very old. He could not always understand them, as he was bound to Middle-earth through the blood of Naneth, and this tree – just like its siblings – was stranger to the home soil. They hailed from the West. But they had the same love towards Elves as the oaks and beeches and pine-trees of the Greenwood had. And this particular tree could give him strength. Not as much strength as the trees at home, but strength nonetheless. Strength for which he was grateful, for he desperately needed it.

He could feel Ada close all the time, even though he felt too tired to open his eyes. Or Amme, or the old Elf, whose name was apparently Galion – not that he could remember it, but that was how Ada called the old one – when Ada had to go away for a short time. He was never left alone. And there was always soft, filtered light in the room: the warm golden beams of Anor during daytime, and the silver rays of the small lamp during the night. Even though he was too weak to open his eyes, he could see the faint glimmer through his eyelids.

And there was music. He could not remember the words of the songs Ada played on the simple wooden flute, but he recognized the songs themselves. They were very different from the singing he could sometimes hear from far away. They were sweet and wild, full of fierce joy sometimes or full of melancholy, just like in his youth, when he was dancing with the maidens of the woodland folk on the great, moonlit clearing framed by the tall, dark trees, with the tree-houses hidden in their crowns.

He still did not have but fractured memories of that tree city, but he was now certain that it had once been his home. He used to live in one of those tree-houses, with Ada and Naneth, and the other elflings, the silver-haired girl, the one who always talked about the Sea, among them. The youngest of all was barely more than a toddler and had an unruly mop of auburn hair and very bright green eyes. Ada and Naneth called the toddler their little green leaf…

To his great regret, he could still not remember Naneth’s face well enough, but he saw the tiny, laughing face of the toddler with almost painful clarity. He knew it was a boy, much younger than all the others, for he could see himself as a grown though still very young Elf, holding the squirming child on his knees. Little green leaf…

Ada had spoken of a green leaf not so long ago. Could he hope to see that child again, one day? Ada said that Naneth was not here, that she was gone, but perchance, the child was still there somewhere. And the silver-haired girl as well. He wondered what they would look like. If they had changed much.

Ada had not changed, aside from the deep sadness that had not been there in his starlit eyes before. But Ada was ancient, even in Elven measures, although clearly not as old as Galion. Ada still looked like in his memories: strong, proud and almost frighteningly beautiful, with sculpted features, silver-grey eyes and hair like molten gold. This was one of his first, most powerful memories.

He could remember that people sometimes feared Ada’s wrath, although he could not see why. For him, Ada meant bedtime tales and music and hunting rides. And delicious food that Ada would cook himself in the large kitchen of the tree city, and that made everyone’s mouth water.

He wondered if Ada still cooked with his own hands. If the tree city still existed.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
“He begins to remember more,” said Cordophel quietly. She did not actively invade Enadar’s mind but kept hers wide open, so that she could pick up any stray thoughts and images from the tormented prince. “Most of his memories are about Oropher’s city.”

“That is understandable,” replied Thranduil. “It was his home for the entire Second Age. He was born there. I fear it will hit him hard when he learns that Lasgalen is no more. Has not been for a very long time.”

“The place is still there,” Cordophel shrugged, “and so are many of the trees. The forest changes and yet remains the same all the time. Mayhap ‘tis time for you, my King, to leave the caves and return to the treetops again.”

“If that is what can help my son, I shall do so,” said Thranduil.

“That is still a long way to come,” said a pleasantly deep voice from behind them; they were so focused on Enadar that they had not heard another person climbing the tree and entering the tree-house.

Cordophel turned around and saw a tall, dark-haired Elf – one of the Golodhrim, by the look of him – standing on the doorstep. The Elf had a smooth, ageless face, as noble and fair as Thranduil’s, but there was a certain hardness in his exotic features, otherwise only found by mortal Men. There was wisdom and sorrow in those long eyes, grey like a clear winter morning, but it seemed to her that they lacked the passionate will to live and fight that always glittered in the eyes of her King. This Elf was done with fighting. Perhaps done with living as well.

As the Avari in general, Cordophel never felt the call of the Sea. They were called the Faithful for a reason. She was content in Middle-earth, rooted deeply in the soil of her home, her fëa bound to the trees, the water and the winds, and lest she got killed by some foul creature that still lurked in the woods, or by an evil turn of fate, she was determined to stay here ‘til the end of Arda. But she had seen enough of the Sindar hit by the Longing and fade slowly away, unless they got the chance to sail to the West. Celebwen, the King’s daughter among them. So, yea, she was very well able to read the signs.

The tall Golodh with a healer’s bundle in his hands was badly ravaged by the Longing. In fact, he was already gone, at least in his mind. Only his body tarried still on this side of the Sea. Cordophel wondered how long might he have resisted the Call already. She had never seen someone in such an advanced stage.

Thranduil rose from Enadar’s bedside and inclined his head politely.

“Elrond,” he said simply. “Thank you for coming to see my son.”

“’Tis my sworn duty as a healer,” replied the Master of Imladris gravely. “I only wish I could have come earlier. Tell me what have you achieved so far, ere we can decide about the next step.”

Thranduil gave him a short summary about Enadar’s recovery, such as it had been. Elrond listened with great interest, then nodded.

“You have chosen the right path,” he said, “but you have also been fortunate that Enadar has such a strong and resilient spirit. Few could have resisted the darkness in utter solitude as he did. I do believe that there is hope for a complete recovery, though he will never forget the horrors he had suffered in Dol Guldur.”

“But it is going so slow,” whispered Thranduil. Elrond nodded again.

“It takes time. But you have time, both of you. I think not that Enadar’s recovery is slow, though. On the contrary, he has already made great progress, as I see it. You must be patient, Thranduil. He has a lot of healing to do – it cannot be forced.”

“There is naught you can do for him then?” asked Thranduil bitterly. I was a fool to hope help from a Golodh, even if it is Elrond, he thought.

“I can do a great deal,” answered Elrond patiently, “and I shall do all that I can. But you must understand that I can only heal his body. That is the easy part. The hard work – the healing of his mind and that of his fëa – lies beyond even my abilities. That is a battle he has to fight for himself – with your help, and the help of all his loved ones.”

“’Tis enough if you heal his body,” said Thranduil. “Give him the strength to fight his own battles. We shall do the rest.”

Once again, Elrond nodded in agreement. “I hope you will succeed. There is no worse pain than losing one’s own flesh and blood. You have suffered enough losses already. Let me take a look at Enadar. I shall awake his self-healing powers and see where he needs help with the heeling.”

“You can do that?” Cordophel tilted her head bird-like to one side, doubtfully.

Elrond gave her a faint smile. It was like a pale sunbeam upon the surface of a frozen lake.

“Mistress…” he trailed off, looking at her in askance.

“I am called Cordophel,” she supplied.

“Mistress Cordophel, I was not only taught to be a healer, I was born a healer. Some say ‘tis a reminder of Melian, the Maia in my blood, and it might be true, as my children share this gift, albeit to a much lesser extent. It was even kept by the royal family of the Dúnedain. I am the strongest of my kind in the art of healing, and I had a long time to refine it. But yea, I can do many things even the best healers of the Firstborn cannot. And,” he added with a self-mocking smile, “I do not even need any magic trinkets to aid me.”

Cordophel blinked in confusion. The Three Rings never being an topic discussed openly in Thranduil’s court – or in Oropher’s, for that matter – she had no idea what the Master of Imladris was speaking about. A quick glance at his King told her, though, that Thranduil –could – and did – take the hint. She shrugged. It was not her concern. The two lords understood each other, and that was enough for her.

“In that case, I shall leave the young prince in your capable hands, Master Elrond,” she said. That earned her the first true smile from the healer.

“A wise decision. Yet you should stay and watch, Mistress Cordophel, for this is something you can do as well. I feel a strong healing power in you – ‘tis different from mine, but that does not mean that it could not be used in a similar manner.”

Cordophel nodded. “I shall watch then.”

Elrond now laid his healing hands upon the fragile body of Thranduil’s son, seeking out the hidden places where the fabulous self-healing abilities of Elves were focused. This was a fairly common procedure among Elven healers. If an Elf was very weak, from a grave injury (or, what was even more common, from childbirth), the self-healing sometimes needed to be nudged awake. Most Elven healers could do this. Elrond was just better at it than most.

This time, however, he ran into a problem – a not entirely unexpected one. Enadar’s self-healing powers were all but used up. To survive three thousand years in the dungeons of Dol Guldur, he had to reach deep into his own hidden strength, ‘til there was almost nothing more to be found. ‘Twas not an entirely unknown condition for Elrond, but never had he met anyone whose condition would be this grave. With a jolt of fear, he realized that Enadar could still die… from the sheer exhaustion of his millennia-long fight for survival.

There was only one thing Elrond could do to save the much-suffered prince – and it was a risky thing to do indeed. He had done it earlier, had given from his own strength someone who was too weakened to fight for his life any longer. But not someone who was this weakened, with one foot on the doorstep of Mandos’ Halls already. And he was weakened now, too, having fought the Longing for too long, having stood on Middle-earth beyond the time of safety, just to fulfil his obligations.

Yet he could not allow Enadar to lose his long and bitter fight after all those millennia. He could not allow Thranduil to lose his miraculously re-found son again. He had been in Thranduil’s debt for too long. For the deaths of Oropher and two-thirds of the Silvan archers that never returned from Dagorlad, even though he had not been part of the quarrel between Gil-galad and Oropher. But he did fail to make the High King listen, and Oropher stormed off in rage and led his people into a disastrous battle. And for Legolas, whom he had sent out with the Fellowship, without Thranduil’s knowledge and agreement.

Thranduil had lost his father and three sons during the Last Alliance. One of those sons had been returned to him. Elrond could not take him the chance to keep his son. Summoning all his strength, the Master of Imladris laid one hand over Enadar’s heart, the other one upon his forehead… and concentrated.

“What is he doing?” asked Thranduil in concern, seeing that Elrond was getting paler and paler by the moment, while there was a faint glowing to be seen under his palms, bathing Enadar’s brow and breast.

“’Tis an exchange of strength,” replied Cordophel. As most healers, she was familiar with the procedure, had even executed it herself a few times, but had never seen it at this level of power. “And a very powerful one, I would say.”

“What do you mean?” Thranduil’s eyes widened in surprise. “Is Elrond giving my son his own strength?”

Cordophel nodded. “It does seem so, my King.”

“But is it not too dangerous – for both the patient and the healer?”

“Not for the patient. He can only gain strength by it and lose nothing. For the healer, yea… more so in Elrond’s present state.”

“What state?” demanded Thranduil. Cordophel sighed.

“He is obviously suffering from the Longing… has been for a long time, as it seems. He might save Enadar… and die himself, from exhausting his own strength too much. Nay,” she caught Thranduil’s arms with an iron grip, “try not to break the connection. That could kill them both.”

Thranduil looked at her in anxiety. “Is there nothing we can do to help them?”

“There is,” said Cordophel calmly. “We can let Elrond do his work undisturbed – and hope for the best.”

‘Twas a time of true torture for Thranduil to sit there and watch helplessly how Elrond fought for his son’s life. He was an Elf who preferred doing things to watching them. But, as Cordophel had said, there was nothing he could do but keep out of the healer’s way – and hope.

Finally, Elrond gave a barely visible sigh, smiled weakly and called the prince in a soft whisper: “Rest now, Enadar Thranduilion. Rest and gather your strength. There is a long war for you to fight yet.”

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
The deep, pleasant voice was not Ada’s, nor that of Old Galion, but from somewhere, he knew it. It made him remember the Last Battle, when many of their own people had already fallen – among them a great, silver-haired Lord, for whom Ada grieved so terribly. He could not remember the Lord’s name, but he must have been someone very important.

He did remember, though, sitting in a tent – a once-beautiful one, with silver-embroidered flaps and the Golodh king’s emblem above the entrance: silver stars upon a deep blue lozenge. It was covered with dust and ash and the gore of all the recent fights, the silver adornments of the poles blackened long ago. At least a dozen Elf-lords in shining armour were sitting around a long council table, on light field chairs.

Ada was there, too, leaning wearily with his elbows on the chair closest to the entrance, as if he tried to keep free a path of escape. He only wore a torso armour of strong leather, his golden hair, now nearly black from Orc blood and battle gore, in one tight braid on the back of his head, to keep it out of his face. And Enadar could see his younger self with the guards, sitting on the bench that ran along both long sides of the tent, barely able to keep upright from sheer exhaustion.

There was a quarrel between Ada and the Golodh king, and behind the king a tall, dark-haired Elf stood, trying to bring all the Lords to an agreement, ere the Last Battle started. Yea, he could remember that voice – it spoke with respect and wisdom, but also with force, and finally succeeding in persuading Elves and Men to do what had to be done.

Later, he saw that Elf one more time, leading the warriors of the Golodhrim into the final battle, his dark hair flowing in the wind like a banner of dark silk. Enadar knew that he saw a great warrior – he remembered the power in that deep voice, a voice used to give orders. That was the last thing he saw before he was wounded by an Orc-sword and… and captured. Before darkness swallowed him for a long, long time.

And now he could feel the strength returning in his weakened body. A strength he had thought long gone. And that voice, the voice of the great warrior, called him back to the battlefield. He knew he had to return. Ada needed him – and now he had the strength to fight again.

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