6. Danger Unexpected Danger Expected
Glorfindel nodded and turned towards Elrond. “Do you sense any danger meldir nin?”
Elrond did a broad mental sweep before shaking his head, “Nothing, I just wish I could shake this sense of disquiet, ‘Fin.”
Glorfindel frowned. “Well a decision must be made. Do we take the north or the southern route? Is your feeling of disquiet strong enough for you to indicate which should be our choice?”
“No, unfortunately. However, with the ellyth, I would prefer the northern route. We should stay as far away from yrch as possible.”
Glorfindel sighed. “I agree. My only concern with taking it is that with this many riders we will place additional strain on a trail that is not known for its stability.”
“Perhaps if we were to dismount, spread out, and walk across that portion ‘Fin?” Elladan suggested interrupting the conversation.
“I agree. Such a tactic might work ada.” Elrohir added thoughtfully.
Elrond and Glorfindel both considered the suggestion before looking at each other.
“It just might work, ‘Fin.” Elrond smiled back with approval at his ionnath.
Glorfindel remained silent before agreeing. “Half of the warriors will go first then the gwanur followed by two of the ellyth, then you, and the other ellyth and finally I will follow with the remaining warriors. That should provide us with protection in any possible danger in either direction.”
Elrond frowned. “I do not need to be nurse maided with the ellyth, “Fin.”
Glorfindel shook his head. “I am not suggesting that you do. Your presence will provide a sense of safety for them and you can guide them in case action is needed. I may not have time to do so if we are busy fighting a rear guard action to protect everyone as they make the crossing. With the gwanur and the warriors waiting on the other side, all of your family should be safe.”
Elrond narrowed his eyes, glared at the balrog slayer, and sent him a silent message. *You are managing me ‘Fin. *
With a shrug of his shoulders, Glorfindel responded in kind. *Always meldir, it is what I do to make sure you are protected. Will you give me trouble? *
Elrond shook his head and turned to his horse. *I agreed to do as you required. I can hardly refuse now that I have done so. *
Glorfindel and Elrond mounted and joined the first group of warriors formed up on the trail.
Mithrellas watched the silent interchange with worry and exchanged looks with Arwen. “It would appear our decision to accompany you back to Imladris might not have been a wise one.” She said quietly. “We have added to the concerns of Glorfindel.”
Arwen shook her head. “The trip is never without some danger, ‘Rellas. We have taken every precaution reasonable and must trust to our escort’s abilities. ‘Fin is only worried because ada is here. It sounds like he is taking the best steps he can to deal with the situation.”
Mithrellas nodded and turned to the other ellyth. “We had best get mounted. Are you all ready?” Silently, they all swung aboard their mounts and waited quietly for the signal to move out behind the gwanur.
The next two days passed without incident but on the third the rains started once more. They camped that night in a protected part of the upper canyon wall just before where the trail led onto the cliffs above the deep canyon floor. The dangerous part of the trail lay just ahead and the ground was notoriously unstable. While the sun had yet to rise and before starting into the passage the next morning, Glorfindel stood grimly studying it. Although the scouts had continued to report firm ground ahead, he did not like what he saw. Several small rock falls had occurred and while not dangerous in and of themselves, they certainly gave an indication of future erosion problems if the rain continued.
. He gave serious thought to turning back to the other trail. It would add another week to the trip, but it was appearing that it might be the safest route after all. Joining Elrond at the one remaining campfire, he accepted a cup of tea and scowled at his lord.
“I strongly recommend that we return and take the other trail, hiren. My foresight may not be as good as yours, but even I can see that the trail is highly questionable. We can join up with the gwanur after they have completed their sweep of the back trail.”
Grimfaced, Elrond replied. “That is no longer an option, ‘Fin. Ionnath nin have informed me that they spotted yrch four days behind us. Even now the yrch track us and the gwanur are returning as swiftly as possible. They will try to disguise our trail whenever they can. The rain should help but we should move out at once. They will follow as soon as possible.”
After a brief pause to assimilate this latest information, Glorfindel nodded his head. “Very well but we will have to proceed with extreme caution. I will give the order as soon as camp is struck. In the mean time we had better let everyone know what we face.” He glared up at the skies filled with dirty grey clouds heavy with rain swearing at the expected deluge.
A silent group departed the camp shortly thereafter clearly concerned at what lay ahead. Glorfindel had sent out three warriors to aid the gwanur’s attempts to hide the trail of the group and assist them if a fight ensued. At the front of the main group of travelers a few warriors spread out single file and leading their horses passed cautiously along the trail. They were followed by several packhorses, then by Elrond and ‘Rellas leading their mounts. After the elf lord and the elleth several more warriors followed then Arwen and the other two ellyth. Finally bringing up the rear were the rest of the warriors and Glorfindel.
For most of the morning, their travel proceeded without trouble. The rains began at midday and the trail soon became a sloppy, muddy, mess as the horses struggled to keep from slipping over the edge into the canyon. The elves soon found themselves covered with mud and soaked to the skin from the rain as well. The real trouble started when the trail dropped lower into the canyon. Rain had swollen the river’s tide and increased the power of the water’s flow. Along the bank, the water had eroded part of the wall and had eaten away support for the upper side.
Not long after the leading elves and the packhorses has successfully negotiated the weakened portion Elrond and ‘Rellas found themselves suddenly trapped on the trail between two earthen collapses. Elrond called out urgently to warn the rest of the group behind stopping them safely higher up on the trail. Soothingly he spoke softly to the shaken animal and tucked its head in towards the canyon wall. Turning, he called to his companion.
“Are you alright ‘Rellas? Any injuries?”
“No Elrond, I have just a few jangled nerves and a jumpy horse.”
Elrond smiled at the hint of asperity in her voice. “Very well, my lady. We must remain calm. I am sure we will find a way out of this shortly.”
He studied her animal, noted that already she had managed to distract the equine from the danger below, and was in the process of wrapping her cape about its head.
Glorfindel worked his way down carefully to where he could see for himself the extent of their danger. Swallowing hard, he called out in warning to his lord and friend.
“Elrond, you must not move and stay close to the canyon wall.” He looked up at the area above the two and mentally groaned. Small bits of rock and earth were beginning to tumble down. “If your horses will not remain calm and start to go over the edge you must let them go. Do not let them pull you over after them.”
“Fin, at present we are safe and the horses are quite calm. We must seek an answer that will get us out of here.”
“That is an understatement if I ever heard one.” Glorfindel swore under his breath, than more loudly. “I will see what can be done. Perhaps a bridge of sorts if we can get some logs down here and lay them across the gaps.”
“Very well. In the mean time ‘Rellas and I will make ourselves as comfort…..”
The wall of rock and earth above and below them collapsed with a loud sucking rumble and they tumbled into the fast churning waters of the river below.
“Elrond!” Glorfindel yelled as he fell to his knees and looked over the edge into the shadowy depths.
“Ada!” Arwen screamed in horror and watched in shock as the two disappeared. She struggled in the arms of an elf that had grabbed her holding her back. “Ada! ‘Rellas!”
Silence filled the air with only the sound of the rushing water and the rain striking the ground. The Lord of Imladris and the Lady Mithrellas along with their horses were swept into the darkness of the canyon and the night.
Meldir nin-my friend
Gwanur-brothers-a set of twins
Ionnath nin-my sons
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