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The Prisoner of Dol Guldur
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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9
Part 9

Author’s note:
This chapter is practically a gap-filler, until I can pick up the string of events with the long-awaited appearance of Legolas. *g*

The Elven dental problems have been discussed with the Edhellond group in loving detail. There is no canonical proof for any of the results, of course.


~~~

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
“From their beginning, the chief difference between Elves and Men lay in the fate and nature of their spirits. The fëar of the Elves were destined to dwell in Arda for all the life of Arda, and the death of the flesh did not abrogate that destiny. Their fëar were tenacious therefore of life’ in the raiment of Arda’, even from the first days protecting their bodies from many ills and assaults (such as disease), and healing them swiftly of injuries, so that they recovered from wounds that would have proved fatal to Men.”

HoMe 10 – Morgoth’s Ring: Of Laws and Customs Among the Eldar, pp. 218-219


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
PART 09

In the first time he missed the presence of the beautiful Evenstar very much. Unlike with Ada, Amme and the others, who were always there, her visits had been something he was looking forward to. Even though he could feel that half her mind had always been elsewhere. At their parting, she spoke about a great change that had been coming upon her for a long time, and he could see that she was looking forward to that change with an equal measure of fear and joyous excitement. He knew not what kind of change it could be, and he had no great desire to learn more about it, either. He only wished for her that if would end in very great happiness.

But after a while he got used to her absence as well. Ada was there all the time, and in the end, Ada was the only one he truly needed.

Amme stayed with him most of the time, too. She bespoke him often, awakening more memories from his childhood. Slowly, he began to remember names and faces but found it difficult to connect them with each other. Still, it helped him very much, even if it confused him sometimes.

He still slept a lot, and the shadow-play of day and night still seemed more like a dream. The true measure of time was the change between long periods of horrible thirst and short moments of fleeting relief when he was given water, gloriously clean, cool and fresh water.

They tried to get him drink other fluids, but he was unable to swallow them. Everything else seemed dirty, poisoned water to him – more so when it was warm – and made him gag. That usually led to panic, for he feared to lose the water ha had already had, and he fell in exhausted, unruly sleep afterwards.

So they ceased to offer him soup or even herbal tea, as it would have done more damage than it could help. Fortunately, he could eat berries and other soft fruits; and lembas caused no problems, either. But meat turned out to be another hindrance, and so were cooked vegetables. That he could not eat properly, showed down his healing considerably. He could feel Ada’s sorrow about it, but he could not change the reactions of his body.

“So… sorry,” he whispered, falling back onto his mattress in boneless exhaustion. Once again, he was unable to force down some steamed roots and had very nearly thrown up what little he had eaten before.

“’Tis not your fault, my son,” the strong hand of Ada rested for a moment upon his sunken cheek. “We shall try something else the next time. Try to sleep now.”

He was too tired to even nod. He was too tired to even ask for more water. His eyes fell shut, and he succumbed to the now fearless darkness of sleep.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
“This is not going well,” stated Thranduil the obvious, still clutching his son’s limp hand desperately. “He cannot live on lembas and water alone. Why can he not eat aught else?”

“He has lived on Orc-bread and dried raw meat and only Mandos knows what sort of rubbish for a whole Age,” pointed out Cordophel patiently. “He needs to get used to cooked food again. It will be a long was to go, more so that we cannot give him herbal extracts, either. He would not drink aught but water, it seems.”

“What about wine?” asked Galion. “Orcs do have a strong draught they favour all the time. Mayhap they gave him some and thus he would be used to have something else than water.”

“Would it not be too strong for him?” Thranduil worried. “He is still so very weak.”

“We could mix two coups of water with one cup of wine,” said Galion, “and put the herbs he needs into it.”

“We can try,” agreed Cordophel. “And I would like to give him a haircut. His hair is matted together entirely. If I tried to comb it out, I would not achieve aught but cause him a lot of pain. We should cut it right above his shoulders – it would be a great relief for him.”

The others were a bit shocked by the idea of a short-haired Elf, but after a moment they had to agree. Enadar’s long, wild mane was beyond the help of any comb or hairbrush, and it was heavy and too hot for him in his weakened state. ‘Twas better to cut it short. It would grow out again, eventually.

“Do you believe he is strong enough to have a real bath?” Perladiel, the Lórien healer, asked. “There is a hot spring not too far from here, rich in minerals that his body needs but cannot get through food right now. A good soak can do wonders sometimes.”

“We can get him off the mallorn the same way we got him up there,” said Alagos with a shrug, “and I can carry him as far as necessary.”

“Nay,” said Thranduil. “I shall carry him – but is he truly strong enough for that?”

“If the water is not too hot, it will do him good,” replied Cordophel. “I shall go with Perladiel and see it for myself first.”

“What about his teeth?” asked Thranduil. “They are in a terrible shape, too. Why have thy not fallen out, so that new ones could grow in their stead?”

“His body needed all its strength to survive,” said Cordophel. “When he had grown stronger, we may be able to do something about that, too. Even pull the bad teeth, if they would not fall out on their own. But not now, not for a while yet. Lord Elrond says that his self-healing powers are almost completely exhausted. We must not do aught that would drain them any more. He will have to live with those ugly teeth for the next hundred years or so.”

“Which means that we must keep him on a diet of water, lembas and fruit for quite some time yet,” added Galion. “For even if he would be willing to eat raw vegetables, he would be unable to chew them.”

“Mayhap we can fool his stomach if we give him the roots cooked but cold,” suggested Perladiel.

Thranduil hesitated. “I fear to risk another reaction like the one we have just got from him.”

“I understand that,” the healer said, “but we must keep trying, or else he will never get used to eat proper food again. And he needs that, in order to regain at least some of his strength.”

“I know,” Thranduil sighed, “but let us try the bath and the wine today and allow him some rest ere we force cooked roots upon him.”

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
He awoke to the sensation of flying – nay, not flying, it was more like a slow sinking, and for the first moment he nearly panicked. But then he realized that there was no water around him, and he was moving too slowly to have fallen from the tree, as it had happened to him when he was very small. Still, he dared not to open his eyes, fearing that he would become sick – and of that he had already had enough for one day.

To his relief, his downward movement was blessedly short, and he landed in strong arms. He recognized the familiar scent of Ada – it always reminded him of pinecones burning in an open fire – and that of Amme, which was like the scent of wild roses. That calmed him down, knowing that he was in good hands.

He risked to open his eyes, just a crack, and saw that he was out in the open, under the tall, towering trees. They had brought him down, for some reason. Being out in the open was frightening, everything was too wide and too far away, but Ada was holding him safely, and Amme was there, too, and the place around them so beautiful it almost hurt. The grass was fresh and green, as he remembered it from times long gone, and small golden stars were blinking at him from within all that green, and among them pale green bells were trembling on slender stalks, moving to a music only they could hear.

He reached out weakly with a trembling hand, and Ada seemed to understand his wish, lowering him so that he could touch the grass and the flowers. The green-smell exploded in his nose with a long-forgotten intensity that made him drunk and he felt himself shaking with the savage joy of it. For the very first time since his rescuing, there were tears in his dry eyes, and he released them readily, for once not caring that his body was losing precious fluids.

Ada lowered him even more, laying him onto the grass, and with supreme effort, he somehow rolled over, rubbing his face into the grass, filling his nose with its intoxicating scent and weeping hot tears of joy.

He could hear the worried voices of Ada and Amme, and that of old Galion, and even the red-headed healer’s, but he did not understand what they were saying. Or why they were so worried. How could they not feel his joy? Touching grass again, inhaling its green freshness, seeing the beauty of flowers after he had almost forgotten what beauty was – how could he not weep with happiness? He was a Wood-Elf – where else could he have found joy but under the ancient trees, resting on the green grass, among flowers?

In a sudden flash of memory, he saw his younger self again, young but not an elfling any longer, walking in a forest with two other auburn-haired young Elves whom he now recognized as his brothers. They were carrying great hunting bows, full quivers strapped onto their backs, and the eldest of them – still very young for an Elf – had the toddler whom Ada used to call his little green leaf sitting on his shoulders.

He knew his eldest brother had had a tree-name. Something about an oak tree. And the other one had had an outlandish name, short and strange, mayhap one that originated from the great forest in the West that was no more, or was that his name? And the little leaf…

“Dorothil,” he whispered, the image of his eldest brother and that of the oak tree becoming one before his mind’s eye. “Orchal,” he whispered, remembering the quiet laughter and the soft voice of his second-youngest brother. And then, thinking of the toddler with those wondrous, leaf-green eyes that no-one else in their family possessed, he whispered, “Laegalas.”

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Exchanging baffled looks with Galion, Thranduil asked. “Has he just called his brothers?”

The old Elf shook his head. “That is doubtful, my King. I would rather think he had a flash of memory again.”

“I could catch a glimpse of the three of them walking just outside the city of Lasgalen, with Dorothil carrying little Legolas on his shoulders,” said Cordophel. “’Tis is a great step forward that he can remember their names. Also, he sees himself as an adult now, at least in these memory flashes.”

“Is that good?” asked Thranduil. Cordophel nodded.

“Yea, my King, it is. He is slowly letting go of the safety that the status of a small child would give. He is getting ready to return to us fully. It will be a long way yet, and there will no doubt be severe throwbacks. But at least he seems to be on the right way.”

“This outburst of feeling has weakened him, though,” warned Perladiel. “We should give him that bad and that haircut, and then he should rest again.”

“If he allows us to tear him away from the grass,” said Galion doubtfully.

“Leave that to me,” replied Cordophel, and touched Enadar’s head gently.

You must let go now, my little squirrel.

The answer came swiftly – and it was terrified. No! Do not shut me away again!

We shall do no such thing, she soothed. We just want to give you a bath.

Enadar did not seem to recognize the word; he had apparently forgotten what a bath was. So she tried a different approach.

We want to take you to the hot spring. Still no reaction. To a place where there is a lot of water. The mentioning of water launched another thirst attack, and she turned Enadar over and gave him some water, to replace the fluids he had wasted with weeping.

You can rest in the warm water and heal, she added in thought, and we can cut your hair; it is too long and too heavy for you.

For some reason, the mere thought of a haircut led to another panic attack. The blurred images shooting through Enadar’s mind in rapid success were hard to interpret, but it seemed that he thought that losing his hair was the first step to become an Orc. Or something similar to an Orc.

We shall not cut it all, she soothed. We shall just make it shorter. You will be able to braid it again as Elves do. But right now it is a dirty mess.

It took her quite some time and several approaches ‘til Enadar was ready to believe that they would not shear him bald – that must have been something his jailors had threatened him with – and allowed his father to lift him again.

“Have no fear, ion nîn,” murmured Thranduil. “I shall be with you all the time.”

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
He was floating in the warm water, supported by Ada’s strong arms. It felt like dreaming, being so weightless and limp, even tough the water was almost too hot for his over-sensitive skin. Ever since they had removed the hardened layers of filth that had covered his body for so long, he had been very sensitive to any touch. He hurt everywhere when touched, save from his head where the thick hair provided at least some protection.

His hair was rather short now, it barely touched his shoulders, and if felt good, as Amme had promised it would, to be freed from its previous weight. They had showed him the cut hair – it was coarse and brittle like old hay… and white. Not shining white like old Galion’s, but greyish-white like dirty snow at the end of winter. Amme promised that it would become clean and shiny again, now that they would be able to wash it and comb it out properly and brush it daily.

That was good to know, but in all honesty, he did not care. He was more concerned about the return of his strength and about being able to speak again properly than about the colour of his hair. He wanted to walk around under the trees again, to dance under the starlit sky, to wield the knife and bend the bow again – those were his main goals right now.

He knew, however, that he was still far from those things. He could not even sit up without help, his stomach refused most of the food he was offered, his back was full of small, open wounds from laying motionlessly all the time, and he still slept through most of the day. Sometimes he doubted that he that he would ever be able to leave his bed, despite the great efforts of the noble healer.

But he was not willing to give up, not now that he had smelled the green grass and seen the flowers again. Now that he had been found by Ada and could hope that he might find his siblings, too. He wondered what might have become of his grown brothers… of the silver-haired girl… of the green-eyed toddler. Mayhap if he endured long enough to grow strong again, he would find out.

He sighed, leaned back in Ada’s strong arms and drifted off to sleep.

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