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34
Paradise Lost

Written for B2MeM 2010:

Valmar Challenge:Utopia can be defined either as a place of ideal perfection in laws, government and social conditions or as an impractical scheme for social improvement. Write a story, poem or create an artwork about a place or society that can be defined as utopia.

MEFAs, 2010:
Honorable Mention, Ficlet: Eriador or Shire


~~~

He is folded up in the cave-like space under the lowest branches of the fir tree. It is not the original fir tree that had sheltered two young elflings under its branches, for he is more than two millenia old, but it is very like that old one, and but a few feet from where that one had stood. The space, adequate for elflings, scarcely contains a full-grown warrior in gore-caked armor, who crouches in the shadows like a wounded beast hiding from the hunters and listens to the voice of the waterfall.

It is only one of many in this valley full of falling water, but it is his favorite. The trees overshadow it in part, on sunny days casting dappled shadows over the clear water beneath and even down onto the sandy bed of the pool. Water polished pebbles gleam softly there and tiny fish flash in the shallows. There are miniscule frogs as well in the summer and he can hear them peeping now. He cannot count the number of times he and his brother have swum here over the years, though it became soaking more than swimming as time passed, for they grew taller and the pool remained the same size. He remembers the time their mother joined them, her silver hair like sea-wrack in the water as she floated and laughed in delight…The moon is full tonight and where it filters down and dances upon the water, the color is almost the same…

This has always been a place of peace; this pool, this waterfall, this valley. A harmonious house to rule it all, overseen by a lord with a light hand and a lady with a bright smile. Discord was rare, and not permitted to exist for long. So lovely! the men and dwarves who visited would say, it is like paradise! Now it is changed or lessened. Or perhaps it is he who is changed or lessened, who no longer fits here. He remembers the shock on the faces of those who saw him ride in, covered in dried orc blood from head to foot. He could not be troubled to wash during those frantic days, his mind set on a succession of goals to be accomplished. Find Mother. Rescue Mother. Kill them all! Get Mother home as swiftly as possible. Now he cannot help her further, for he has never been much of a healer. Now he waits upon news and contemplates the core of rage that is building within him, rage that makes him unfit to stay here long…

Someone is coming down the path and he knows who it is even before the mind brushes his, relief and concern mingled in that touch.

“Elrohir? Where are you?”

“Under here, brother.”

“Will you come out?”

He doesn’t answer, but works his way awkwardly out from under the branches. Elladan looks him over from head to toe, his brow furrowed.

“I thought you might be here. Glorfindel is looking as well.”

“You two being the only ones with the courage to do so?”

“You must admit, you are a bit…frightening at the moment.” Elladan raises a hand to Elrohir’s cloak brooch. “You need a bath, brother. Let me help you. Here will do as well as any place.”

Elrohir removes his hand, gently but firmly. “No. Not here. I won’t have it spoiled.” Elladan gives him a quizzical look and he asks, “What news?”

“Nothing yet. But if anyone can save her, Father can.”

He has always been the closest to his mother of the three of them. And it is not the wound, poisoned and infected though it is, that scares him. It is the emptiness he saw in her eyes…Tipping his head back, he watches the moonlight filter through the leaves for a moment, a play of shadow and light in the gentle night breeze and endeavors to absorb the peace of this place through his soiled skin. Then he speaks, quietly, flatly.

“As soon as we…know…one way or the other, I am going to ride out, brother. To hunt them. To make them regret that any one of them ever touched her. For every moment of torment she endured at their hands, I intend for hundreds of them to die in payment.”

He looks at his brother then, to see if he is disgusted or shocked. Elladan is shielding, but he tips his head to the side and says mildly, “I will ride with you then.” He holds out his hand. “Come, brother, let us get you cleaned up.”

Elrohir takes it and lets himself be led up out of the little ravine, up towards the lights of the house that he can no longer allow to be home.

~~~

I wasn't sure this met the challenge exactly, but it was what came to mind and I hadn't ever written Elrohir from his point of view, so I went with it.


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