The Song Of Sunset
5. Celebrimbor's Folly Part One
“Ada?” he queried uncertainly.
Amdir stood straighter and spoke in his coldest tone, “Where were you, Prince? We have all been searching for you futilely.”
Thranduil looked slightly bewildered as he replied, “My Lord Amdir, you should not have been concerned but I thank you for it all the same.”
“Were you having one of your rumoured clandestine activities?” Amdir asked harshly.
“I was merely walking with the one I intend to marry,” Thranduil replied coldly before walking to his father’s side.
An outburst of shouts from the Lórien nobles greeted this statement. Even the Dwarves and the men were watching the scene with apprehension now. Gil-Galad was muttering about how his gardens were going to witness a Kinslaying for Haldir and Amdir had unsheathed their swords as had most of the other Sindar nobles.
“How, Oropher!” Amdir roared, “What do you say now? You broker a marriage with my daughter and now your son insults me with his brash words! What does this say about the famed obedient, loving son you brag about?”
Gil-Galad and the rest were looking at Thranduil as if they were seeing the prince for the first time. Even a few of the Green wood nobles were now anxiously watching Oropher and Thranduil.
Erestor said quietly, his clear voice carrying through the now silent gathering, “It is a pity that all this happened before our honoured guests. Now, let us settle this quickly before it escalates further.”
“And how do you propose to do that, son of Maglor?” Haldir sneered.
“That I am,” Erestor replied composedly, “But I now speak as the Chief counsellor to the High King, and as such I am the highest authority in deciding all disputes within the city of Lindon.”
“And what is your decision, Lord Erestor?” Thranduil asked, “I would have this settled amicably before it dampens the festivities.”
“My Prince,” Erestor smiled slightly, “Would you tell us where your walking partner hails from?”
Haldir said in a carrying whisper, “From Erebor,” causing several dwarves to shout indignantly.
“From the Golden Woods of Lothlórien,” Thranduil said simply.
“You cavort with one of my people when you are to be betrothed to my daughter!” Amdir spluttered.
A rustle of robes signalled the arrival of a hooded form that quietly approached Amdir. The figure knelt at Amdir’s feet and a woman’s voice said sadly, “Father, tis me and not the Prince who should face your displeasure.”
Amdir whispered shocked as he raised the figure to her feet, “Anoriel! What are you doing here?”
Celeborn was edging away towards the dwarf contingent increasing his distance from Amdir.
“I wanted to see the Prince for myself atleast once before the betrothal. I called him to the gardens tonight. We talked for a while before he returned here,” Anoriel paused, before removing her hood and bowing to the crowd, “I apologize to the King and Prince of Greenwood for the insults they had to hear. I do apologize to the court of Lórien and Greenwood for causing discord amongst two friendly realms,” she turned back to face an ashen faced Amdir, “And father, I don’t think I’ll ever merit your forgiveness for this.”
Erestor was the first to recover, he signalled the ministrels to begin and pulled Elrond along onto the dance floor. The tension eased as Glorfindel and then Círdan and Celeborn joined them. Gil-Galad joined them with a pretty young woman and Erestor whispered to Elrond, “Lady Celebrían.”
Elrond looked at her curiously. She had Galadriel’s pale, blonde features. But she had a well-formed, rounded figure unlike the bony figures of Galadriel’s house. That along with a merry expression on her face and bubbling laughter underlined Celeborn’s Sindarin legacy. Gil-Galad was twirling her about easily and she laughed joyfully causing an expression of pride to settle on her father’s features.
Oropher and Thranduil were still facing the Lórien elves.
Amdir said quietly, “Lord Oropher, Prince Thranduil, I apologize for my insulting words and those of my nobles. It seems my parenting skills and not yours are to be blamed for this discord.”
Oropher sighed saying, “Amdir , you should have more trust in me. However I seek no apologies for this. My son, take the girl to the dance floor, and let me retrieve my wonderful dancing partner, Lady Celebrían, from the Noldor,” he turned back to Amdir with a wink saying, “We should not postpone the betrothal discussions, my lord. We have to prove that these Noldor weddings are nothing when compared to those of the Sindar.”
Anoriel smiled nervously at her father before joining Thranduil on the dance floor.
“They make a good couple,” Erestor remarked as Elrond and he swept past them.
“Yes, ,” Elrond grinned as Thranduil took a wrong step. It was the first time that he was seeing the self-assured prince falter during a dance. And Anoriel too was blushing each time her eyes met her partner’s.
“Who would have thought that our Prince would settle down with a maid?” Erestor wondered, “Everyone was betting on Lord Galdor or Haldir,” he paused as he saw Glorfindel kiss a brown haired young woman in the middle of the dance oblivious to the surroundings, “Elrond, that is my sister, Menelwen that the Balrog Slayer is kissing as if his life depended on it.”
Elrond watched the passionately kissing couple. It was the first time that he had seen such an expression of love and fervour on Glorfindel’s features. His object of love did not resemble Erestor or Galadriel or Maglor or Maedhros or anyone from the house of Fësunor Finarfin that Elrond had met thus far.
“She takes after my mother, it is told,” Erestor interpreted Elrond’s raised eyebrows correctly, “But,” his face sobered, “Glorfindel loves her very deeply. Yet he still does not agree to a binding ceremony saying he is too old for her. It hurts them both terribly.”
Elrond asked curiously, “Why is it that Glorfindel has never told anyone about his love?”
“As I said,” Erestor neatly manoeuvred them away from Gil-Galad who was giddily dancing with the Queen of Gondor, “Glorfindel thinks she is too young. It is ironic that she is in fact far older than her younger brother whose binding ceremony they are now celebrating! He will drive her away if he persists in this foolishness.”
“No, Erestor,” Elrond looked deep into those eyes he loved, “Love may stay hidden, but it can never be driven away.”
“You talk as if you have experience,” Erestor teased him.
Elrond merely smiled before changing the topic swiftly. He wished the night would never end as he glanced at the long fingers interlaced with his own. It felt so right….until Gil-Galad requested Erestor’s hand for the next dance leaving Elrond alone. Not feeling upto watch them dance, he made his excuses and left quietly.
Elrond was one of the few up early the next morning as most of the late night revellers were still sleeping off Celeborn’s excellent First Ager. It had proved to be more potent than the Dorwinion from Green wood. He had stayed away after remembering his own fracas with the wine in Thranduil’s company barely two days ago. He made his way quietly through the deserted hallways towards the stables. It had been long since he had last ridden out at dawn. Anyway it was unlikely that anyone would turn up for work that day. He might as well as enjoy the spring morning all by himself near the seashore.
“ELROND!” an urgent shout from the direction of the road leading out of Lindon roused him from his musing. Oropher was already horsed and rode up to him hurriedly.
“Elrond!” Oropher said relieved, “I am glad I ran into you. I had despaired of finding anyone sensible this morning. I received news at dawn that my realm as well as Amdir’s is under attack from Mordor. They say Eregion and Human settlements has already fallen before us. Now, I am riding out with my elves for home. Amdir has already left. So has Celebrimbor. Take news to your elves. I would have told Lord Gil-Galad myself. But I am afraid I have no time.”
Elrond gasped, “My Lord, Will the elves be able to ride hard today after such feasting yester eve?”
“Well,” Oropher said with a resolute face, “Thoughts of your home in peril can bring sense into the most afflicted elves. But I do think that Sindar has a better resistance to the First Ager than the Noldor. We are attuned to the Dorwinion.”
“I won’t delay you then, My Lord,” Elrond said determined, “Ride safe, Elbereth keep you and your elves safe. I’ll inform the rest.”
Oropher smiled at Elrond, one of his few rare smiles usually reserved for his son, and said, “You’ll do.”
Elrond bowed low and kissed Oropher’s signet ring, a gesture he had never accorded the Sindar King ever before. But now he felt a vague sense of premonition and he murmured, “May the Valar be with you, My Lord.”
Oropher scrutinized him before nodding curtly and turning his mount around. Elrond did not wait for the King to disappear from sight as he ran back towards the palace shouting for Glorfindel at the top of his voice.
“GLORFINDEL!” he shouted again.
“Lord Elrond!” Círdan’s angry voice sounded from behind him, “Some of us are sleeping off yesterday’s festivities. If you would remember that!”
“I have no time for your advice,” Elrond said curtly, “Eregion is under attack. So is Green wood and the Golden Wood!”
Shock freezed the mariner for an instant. Then he quickly replied, “I’ll go find Glorfindel. You run along and find the King!”
Elrond nodded and they parted hurriedly, Elrond running towards the King’s chambers and Círdan towards Glorfindel’s rooms.
Elrond fidgeted outside Gil-Galad’s bedchamber. He had been knocking without respite for almost fifteen minutes without answer. As he debated whether or not to break open the door, a clear voice hailed him, “Elrond! I had been searching for you since dawn.”
Elrond turned to find Erestor behind him. The Chief counsellor was attired in a black tunic and tight leggings. It made him look younger and more approachable without the formality of his usual ceremonial robes. But Elrond shook himself out of his musings as he recalled the reason for his arrival.
“Eregion,” he began.
“Yes, Elrond,” Erestor cut in sharply, “I heard the news from Thranduil today at dawn. I hurried to your chambers, but you were not there. So I aroused Glor and he’s already left with those who could be awakened out of their slumber along with Lord Celebrimbor.”
Elrond sighed relieved. Erestor was probably the most cool-headed and logical person in Lindon. No wonder Gil trusted his opinion so much. Gil! He asked anxiously, “Gil?”
“Yet one more victim of Celeborn’s wine,” Erestor sighed, “I think it better for us to assume charge now and let him sleep it over. I plan on leaving Lord Galdor and Lord Círdan here in charge and then we both should lead the reinforcements as fast as we can to Eregion. If Eregion falls Amdir and Oropher and even Moria will be in danger.”
“Won’t he be angry?” Elrond frowned, Gil-Galad had a tendency to dominate things. Wha would happen if he learnt his seneschal, herald and chief counsellor had ridden off to war without his knowledge. Especially when the said chief counsellor also happened to be his bonded mate
“Well,” Erestor said calmly, “We’ll deal with it later. Right now, we should lead the soldiers to Eregion.”
“I think you should stay here,” Elrond said firmly, “Lindon needs someone of authority.”
“The King is here. So is Lord Círdan,” Erestor replied, “I will be needed at Eregion.”
Elrond raised his voice authoratively, “I think the battlefield is no place for your skills, Erestor! What will Gil have to say when he knows that I allowed you to march to Eregion? No, you remain here.”
Erestor’s eyes darkened almost imperceptibly as he said quietly, “As you say, it is a battlefield there. And I don’t intend to let Glor face it alone. I am his sworn sword brother. And my skills are quite enough to keep me alive, I daresay. Whether I ride with you or alone is the only decision you can take, Lord Elrond.”
“Erestor,” Elrond said softly, “I will watch his back. He will return safely. But please don’t ride to battle. I know you are quite a warrior, but--”
Erestor interrupted, “Elrond, Who will watch your back then?”
“We are not sworn sword brothers,” Elrond said quietly, trying to keep his emotions, that had been so affected by Erestor’s question, under control.
“Do we need to be?” Erestor asked softly, his eyes boring into Elrond’s, “Would you watch someone you care for leave for battle and remain behind?”
Elrond did not reply as he battled with his emotions. It was foolish to think that Erestor would remain unaware of Elrond’s feelings for him after everything was laid bare in Elrond’s eyes.
“We ride together in an hour. Call your soldiers and I’ll meet with Lords Galdor and Círdan in the meanwhile,” Erestor bowed and left with his usual sedate pace leaving Elrond drained.
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