Neldor's heart filled with trepidation as Círdan turned to face him. The Shipwright might be a little thick at times, but millennia upon millennia of experience meant he had gotten regrettably adept at reading others. Neldor suspected his spur-of-the-moment excuse, while brilliant considering the circumstances, lacked a certain credibility.
"Do you insult my intelligence, healer?" demanded Círdan. "Do you think to fool me?"
Neldor knew better than to lie to the Shipwright. Yet he hesitated.
Unfortunately Círdan proved uncharacteristically sharp this day. "Not another of your new remedies?" he exclaimed. "We have spoken of this before."
Neldor remained silent, but could feel his cheeks burning. The Shipwright could make any elf, even one of several thousand summers like Neldor himself, feel like a mere child.
"I have always indulged your ... creative streak, healer. When Thingol threw you out and Nargothrond shut its doors on you, I took you in. When you gave Galdor a nervous breakdown I forgave you. When you nearly drugged that sick Númenórean captain to death I interceded on your behalf. And you repay me by inflicting violence upon my guest, and the emissary of the Valar."
Neldor hung his head. "I assure you, lord," he replied, trying to regain his composure. "That I had the best of intentions."
"I doubt that," said Círdan in his usual blunt manner. "Glorfindel is of tremendous importance to us, and we can risk no harm to him." He paused, appearing to be slightly disturbed. "His condition is far worse than I thought. He speaks in an unknown tongue, and there is a strangeness about him that I cannot place."
"I imagine his return from the Halls of Mandos must have jarred his mind," said Neldor eagerly, hoping to regain favor. "I think ..."
"Enough, Neldor," interrupted Círdan. "Perhaps it would be best if you allow Elrond to assume full responsibility for this case. Which reminds me, why has there been no word of his coming? The Gil-galad's palace is hardly two days' ride away."
Neldor coughed and mumbled something about "unexpected delays".
Círdan raised an eyebrow. "Oh?" he said, but appeared to accept this. "You may continue caring for Glorfindel, if he will let you near him, but no more treatments." He then wandered off, to the healer's immense relief.
He does not understand, thought the healer resentfully as he scurried back to his quarters. These fancy lords knew nothing of innovation. But he would show them.
* * * *
Think of "plant people", and your mind invariably conjures up images of placid, 19th century gentlemen pottering about in glasshouses. Or that nice lady at the flower-shop. Perhaps even the shy, pretty girl at the plant nursery. The point is that people who are very fond of plants are typically considered to be quite like them in temperament.
Ellie, of course, was a "plant person", and some would say she probably had the personality of a vegetable, but let us be kind, and merely say that she had the emotional stability of an inanimate object(except of course, when it came to cockroaches -- hell hath no fury like a woman facing vermin) .
So it was that Ellie felt no small surprise at the intensity of the rage welling up within her. It surged through her veins, this feeling of righteous indignation. She (or rather, Glorfindel) , a respectable elf and hero of the First Age, had been assailed with a club. A club, the most primitive of weapons. Neldor had not even had the courtesy or good sense to use a proper blade. Wait, what? Now where had that come from, wondered Ellie, frankly appalled at her own thoughts.
Ellie was still wondering when and why exactly her thoughts had seemingly gone out of control, when Neldor returned, alone, looking twice as friendly as usual. He flashed his usual bright smile, but it failed to have its customary effect. He bowed slightly to Ellie, and said something that sounded only very vaguely apologetic. That was it? Call that an apology? Ellie felt herself seething dangerously, like a vat of hot liquid about to come very violently to the boil.
"I can't believe Círdan let you off the hook," she said quietly, only the slightest quaver in her voice betraying that she would very much like to smash Neldor's face into an unrecognizable pulp, preferably with his own cudgel. "Do you honestly think you can get away with trying to kill me?"
Neldor tilted his head, looking puzzled. There it was again-- that innocent, wide-eyed expression that seemed to suggest that no, he hadn't been trying to clobber Ellie into oblivion, he was just swinging it for a bit of fun there, it was all an accident ... Ellie, still seeing a great deal of red, didn't buy it for a moment. She briefly wondered if Círdan would mind terribly if she threw his healer off a cliff. She hadn't felt so angry in centuries. Wait, she thought, catching herself yet again. Centuries?
Distracted, she waved her hand dismissively. "Go away." Neldor didn't seem to understand, and even took a step forward, speaking softly.
"Go away!" she repeated, with more vehemence than she meant. Neldor, aggrieved, looked as if he would crumple into tears on the spot. Had she been too harsh? After all, she couldn't be certain of what was going on, due to her inability to communicate. Unlikely, but what if, what if it had all been a misunderstanding? In retrospect, would anyone dare to attempt to murder Glorfindel in the house of the Shipwright? And Neldor, after all, had been amazingly kind to her, if slightly impatient at times. Surely as a healer he wouldn't try to off his own patient? And to top it all off, he looked completely guileless. She couldn't for the life of her decide whether the healer was genuinely repentant, or simply amazingly manipulative.
Her expression must have remained harsh, for Neldor, looking absolutely devastated, bowed again, stiffly, and left. Ellie, feeling not a little guilty, called after him. "Neldor!"
But he was gone. And in his haste, he had left the door open.
Neldor laughed quietly to himself as he disappeared down the corridor, his scheming mind already pleasantly occupied with various machinations involving a certain golden-haired elf.
* * * *
Mandos held his breath as Random Newly-Re-embodied Elf #2's eyes fluttered slowly open.
"Well?" he said, as the elf slowly sat up, groaning and clutching his head. "How do you feel?"
"Head hurts," whispered the elf, raising his head slowly and carefully. Mandos noted the new, unholy glint in his eyes. Did it mean success?
Suddenly, the elf gave a sharp cry and looked around him.
"Where- " he began, then clutched his head again. "No, no! Stop talking! Stop! Stop! I beg you, stop!"
Mandos watched, intrigued, as the elf ran wildly around the laboratory, pausing every now and then to hit his head upon the walls. It bode well, and it was time to find out for sure. Standing up to his full height, he boomed, "Be still and hearken to me! Tell me who is speaking to you!" The elf appeared not to hear and continued his mad dash around the room.
Mandos clapped a huge hand on the elf's shoulder, pulling the elf to face him. "Tell me," he commanded. "Who speaks in your mind?"
He smiled in satisfaction as the wretched creature whimpered, "Fëanor."
* * *
A/N: As always, many thanks to the folks at GoI for their kind guidance!
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.