‘Rellas shook her head and grimaced. They would have to seek higher ground if they expected to survive long enough for rescuers to find them. Once more, her eyes turned towards the shadowed opening on the cliff face above. Marks of previous floods did not reach its level and if they could manage to reach it, they should be safe. She turned her attention to where Elrond lay still and unmoving. She moved to the elf lord’s side and gently shook him.
“Elrond, please wake up.”
He stirred and gazed up at her in confusion for several moments before he was able to focus. He sat up, winced and closed his eyes still clearly suffering the pain from his head wound. “‘Rellas? Is it time for me to take the watch?”
‘Rellas hesitated then answered. “It has been quiet and you clearly needed the rest more then I did, so I let you sleep. However, that is not the reason I awoke you hiren, we have another problem. There will be more rain by morning and we must seek higher ground.”
Elrond moved his head cautiously nodding his agreement. “I will try to follow you but I do not think my leg will carry me very far. If I cannot move quickly enough, you must see to your own safety and leave me.”
‘Rellas stood up and stared down at him thoughtfully before responding. “I do not think that will be necessary hiren. There is an opening in the cliff above us and if we can reach it we should be alright.”
Elrond turned and looked up towards where she pointed. He studied the area below it and carefully noted a possible route over the rock, scrub trees and bushes that clung to the stony surface of the wall. “I agree. If I am careful I should be able to climb up.”
‘Rellas nodded and pulled the ropes from the pile of supplies near the fire. “Do you think you can make it unaided if I wrap your leg to protect your wound from further injury? It will probably make it rather stiff and awkward. I will climb up and drop a line down to aid your efforts. If you secure it around your waist, I can help pull you up and tie it off so that you do not slip back. That should act as an anchor and take some of the strain off you while you climb.”
He studied her intently before answering. “Do you think you can hold my weight if necessary?”
She shook her head. “Not if it were your dead weight and my bare hands alone. If I can find something to anchor the rope about then I can keep it taunt until you climb high enough to release the tension on the line then I can tighten it again.“
Elrond nodded and gestured at their supplies. “We will need to lift them as well.”
“I know. After you are up there, I will return here and tie them to the rope. If you are able to draw them up then I will rejoin you and we will wait for rescue there. If you cannot then I will have to make the necessary trips back and forth.”
“’Rellas, I am sorry to be such a burden. I fear I am far more of a hindrance then a help.”
“We are alive hiren nin. The Valar have shared their grace with us. You injuries could have been much worse or I could have been the one with the greater hurt. I could have missed the remains of the packhorse and the supplies. Your wounds will heal and we will have shelter and food.” ‘Rellas sorting through their supplies and pulled out the boots, offering them to Elrond. “I hope they fit hiren, you will need them for the climb.”
He looked at her strangely. “Do you always carry extra boots, hiril?”
Chuckling she looked up at him mischievously. “Only when I plan to be marooned with a handsome hiren!”
He found himself grinning back at her. “What else do you have hidden in that bag of wonders?”
She pulled out the clothing she had found stuffed in among the other tings in the saddlebags and frowned as she sorted through them. “These will need to be washed before you could use them but they are in far better shape then what you are wearing. One of this tunics should fit you I think.” She held up one and measured it against his body.
Elrond looked down at the tattered remains of his clothes and snorted ruefully, “Do you not mean what I am almost wearing?”
Smiling she shook out the uncured hide pieces and studied several of them. “I should be able to piece together rough leggings for you once we are up in the cave. We will need the thongs to tie bundles of the supplies together before we can lift them on the rope. I will do a quick wash of the tunics before we make the climb and they can dry while we wait for rescue.”
For the next hour, both prepared for their move to the cave. Elrond refused to sit while she did all the work and painfully hobbled up and down the sandbar collecting firewood and organized it into small compact bundles tied with the thongs of hide which he then stacked near the bottom of the cliff. ‘Rellas watched his progress worriedly fearing he would tire himself or cause his leg wound to open up thus making it more difficult for him to make the climb. Sighing, she tied the various pieces of rope together using seaman’s knots her hervenn had taught her and coiled it neatly before laying near the fire. Not for the first time was she grateful to have lived in the Gray Havens among Cerdin’s seamen. When she had finished with that she repacked the backpack with the food and other items she had salvaged from the body of the packhorse. Finally, she did a quick wash of the tunics and wrung them out before rolling them up and setting them on top of the ropes.
“Elrond, hiren, please come and sit down. We must eat and you must rest for a while. I must wrap your leg soon.” She offered him some lembas.
He turned from the growing pile of small bundles and limped back towards the fire where he settled down awkwardly before accepting the way bread. “Hannon le, ‘Rellas, I think we are just about ready. After we have eaten, we should start the climb. It would appear we are running out of time.”
She nodded looking up at the sky. “I agree hiren. We have another hour before dark. After that, we can expect the rain before morning. I do not know how much longer it will be before the river floods again.” They sat in companionable silence until both had finished eating then Elrond sighed and struggled to his feet.
“I am ready.” His face was grim.
‘Rellas lifted a piece of hide and lengths of cut skin to fashion a protective cover for Elrond’s leg and bound it securely about his upper thigh and knee. “I think this will cover the worst part of your leg wound. I regret that your knee must be bound as well but if you catch any part on a rock or limb, you could tear it open again.”
He nodded and gingerly moved about testing his balance and movement. He looked surprised. “It is easier to move then I expected. It will make the climb easier.”
‘Rellas picked up the rope and wrapped it over a shoulder and under an arm. As she moved towards the cliff base, she picked up the backpack and added it to the small pile of items waiting to be lifted to the cave. Elrond followed her and placed a hand on her shoulder. “Are you sure you do not want me to go first?”
“No, hiren. If we could wait a couple of days, your wounds would be much better and our risk less. But we do not have the time, we must get to higher ground now.”
“I agree. Just be careful ‘Rellas. There is something unfinished between us.” He frowned as he struggled to remember.
‘Rellas smiled at him, “Yes hiren, we have an unfinished talk that needs to be dealt with.” With that, she faced the cliff and began to work her way up the face climbing slowly.
Elrond watched her progress intently and relaxed with relief as she pulled herself safely over the edge of the cave entrance and disappeared. “Will it suit ‘Rellas?”
“Just a minute hiren nin.” Her voice grew faint and then she reappeared peering over the edge. “It is very small, but it is dry and there are no signs of animal use. I just need to find something I can use as an anchor point for the rope. Oh, there is a large rock further back. I hope it will not shorten the length of the rope but it is the only thing I can see.” All was silent for a while and the rope was let down where it stopped about five feet short. She called down, “Can you reach it?”
“I will have to climb up before I can reach it and secure it for my climb.”
“Be careful please hiren.”
Elrond carefully made his way over the rough ground and climbed up on a large boulder. Reaching for the rope, he snagged hold of it and used it to pull himself further up the cliff wall. He was then able to wrap it around his waist and loop around a shoulder. He called up to her. “I have it now. Are you ready for me to begin?”
“Yes.” There was a slight tightening of the rope and he knew she had pulled it taunt. The next few minutes were pure torture as his body protested the further abuse he was heaping on it and if it were not for the constant tension ‘Rellas maintained on the rope, Elrond suspected he would not have made it to the top. As it was, he found himself bumping and scrambling over and around impeding rocks and scraggly brush and trees. It was with much relief he finally pulled himself over the edge and joined ‘Rellas in the cave. Nearing exhaustion, he undid the rope and coiled it before handing it back to the elleth.
She looked at him worriedly. “Will you be able to pull up the supplies?”
“Give me a few minutes to rest. The bundles are small and do not weigh much. By the time you climb down and tie them on I should be able to do it.” He gestured towards the rock she had used as an anchor “I will not have to use that so the rope should be long enough to reach the bundles without you having to lift them up to tie them on.”
She nodded in agreement, and before sitting down on the cave mouth edge, she once more gave him an end of the rope, which he wound about his arm. “I will try to be as quick about this as I can. I would like to get everything moved so we can settle in and get some sleep. We can organize things in the morning.” With that, ‘Rellas disappeared over the edge and quickly found her way down to the bottom.
Elrond played out the rope and she secured the backpack on the end. A few tentative tugs and it moved swiftly up the cliff face and disappeared into the cave. Shortly thereafter, the rope was again lowered, and the remaining bundles were just as quickly lifted up and safely stowed within their temporary refuge. ‘Rellas took one last look around to make sure nothing was forgotten and then for the third time face the cliff wall. Now very tired, she climbed slower and when she reached the top strong hands pulled her up and over into the security of their lair.
Neither said a word as they both moved towards the cave rear and collapsed in an untidy heap. Elrond sighed and closed his eyes his head again a pounding cacophony and his thigh a burning fire. With that he sank into a deep sleep leaving ‘Rellas to watch over him deeply worried. After a short time, she stirred and pulled out the packsaddle covers and placed them over his limp body. One final effort and she spread out the wet tunics hoping they would be dry by morning. He would need to change into one and she suspected she would have to tear one of the others into bandages to redress his wounds. Moving carefully, she curled up next to him and sought her own rest.
For the time being, they were safe.
Hiren nin-my lord
Lembas-elvish way bread
Hannon le-thank you
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.