8. Chapter 8
- Chapter 8 -
Elrohir eyed the magnificent white stallion with wide-eyed admiration. True, Imladris' stables had never lacked good horses, but Glorfindel seemed to always have the best steed, choosing them with the infallible instinct of a connoisseur, though his taste had proven to be somewhat monotonous, over the years.
'I am starting to believe that it is some kind of a fetish,' smirked Elrohir, caressing the soft nose of the white stallion.
The Golden lord scowled. 'If you don't want him, I'll have you know that it is just fine with me. You can still ride one of your donkeys.'
'I meant no offense,' said Elrohir, laying a soothing hand on his mentor's shoulder. 'And I am grateful for your help, my friend.' He smiled in apology.
Glorfindel eyed him with distrust, probably wondering whether it was some maneuver to gain his confidence, and evaluated the risks at hand. He must've found none significant, for he hmmph-ed and went to rummage through the well-kept shelves of the stables.
Elrohir saw him come back with a magnificently embroidered saddle and a headstall studded with jewels. 'You might want to use this,' he said, 'If your goal is to impress.' Elrohir stared in awe at the equipment. Elves rarely used any when riding, but when they did, it was obviously with style. He smiled again. 'I do not know how to thank you.'
'Then stay,' offered the warrior in a gruff voice. 'Your father will skin me alive when he learns of what I let you do.'
'That I cannot.'
The awkward moment stretched on as they both stood, embarrassed by the silence. There was so much Elrohir wanted to say, so many contradictory feelings inside he thought he'd burst. With a low curse, Glorfindel suddenly engulfed him in a bear hug. 'You will be missed,' he whispered into Elrohir's ear. Elrohir nodded, returning the gesture with silent gratitude for his friend's understanding and support. There were no words for the admiration he had had for the legendary warrior as an elfling, the respect for a just captain, the love for a long-time friend.
The embrace was interrupted as an elleth, one of the few who still remained, entered the stables. She bore a basket of flowers: the first of the season, fresh and bright, and so very fragile. Once she had left, Glorfindel nodded towards the flowers. 'Your disguise,' he smirked a bit awkwardly. 'O Flower King…'
Elrohir smiled in return, but it left a bitter taste in his mouth. The title had been given to him by another, someone whose absence weighed heavily on his heart. He glanced towards the doors, half expecting his brother to come bursting through, be it with words of reproach. But only the sunshine poured into the stables, glistening on the straw and taunting him with the merriness it carried.
Hiding his disappointment, Elrohir bent to retrieve a flower. As he twirled it between his fingers, a soft muzzle brushed his hand: Faingil was reaching out, trying to taste the fresh plant.
Glorfindel laughed and patted his stallion's neck in affection. 'Alas, it is not for you, my friend,' he murmured. 'Once again you are leaving on a mission, but this time it shall be without me…'
As if he sensed his master's melancholy, Faingil nuzzled Glorfindel's hand.
'He is a good friend,' said the warrior. 'Many battles we have been through, and he has carried me without fear. But he was born on these shores; here he must remain. I will be saddened to be parted from him.'
Elrohir looked at the old warrior in surprise.
'I am sailing,' explained Glorfindel quietly. 'I am leaving in the morn for the Grey Havens to take the last ship.' He shrugged, as if embarrassed by the confession. 'Many years have I lingered here, out of friendship to you and your father. Yet I can not remain any longer. There are many loved ones that I have long wished to see. This is a goodbye, my friend.'
Elrohir stared at him for an instant, then embraced him again. 'Then farewell, Glorfindel,' he said quietly, the words leaving him with difficulty. His mind was blank save for platitudes he had no wish to say. Glorfindel's friendship was worth more than that. 'I was honoured to have known you, and even more so to have called you a friend. I will miss you.'
Glorfindel returned the embrace. 'I would have said I hope to see you on the other side, my friend,' he whispered. 'Yet I know such is not your choice. Farewell, Elrohir Elronnion. May you live that dream you cherish. And may your regrets fade, and your heart find peace.' He pulled away and, with one final nod and a pat on Faingil's nose, he was gone.
Merry laughter still rang in his ears as Elrohir stormed under the stone arch and down the road that led out of Imladris. Beneath him, Faingil ran fast, despite his attempts to shake away the many flowers weaved into his mane.
His road was long through the dark plains and the silence, and would finally bring him to Black Oak at dawn, as the sun would rise above the Hithaeglir. He urged Faingil forward, searching an outlet to his irritation in speed. His joyous anticipation of the moments to come had been tainted.
Firstly, Glorfindel's announcement of his imminent departure had shaken him. The old warrior had become a living symbol in his eyes: ancient and brave beyond compare was he, matched only by High Kings of old. His very blood ran in the earth, spilt to defend it countless times. But now he was leaving, abandoning Middle-earth to its fate, and Elrohir along with it. And Elrohir could not help but feel betrayed. Maybe Glorfindel was right… He would need time to come to terms with his choices and regrets.
But most of all he resented his brother's absence. Elladan had been missing all day, not showing up even for meals. Elrohir understood that the realization of his own death had come as a shock to his brother, but he had hoped that Elladan would at least come to bid him farewell… If he was completely honest with himself, he would have admitted that he also secretly hoped that his twin would finally accept his decision and support it, though he could see no greater sacrifice to ask.
Suddenly, Elrohir spun around; he had thought, for an instant, that a familiar voice was calling out his name. His eyes searched the plain behind him, but the grass swayed softly in the wind, shimmering beneath the rising moon. The path behind him lay empty.
Sighing, Elrohir nudged once again Faingil into a gallop, his heart even heavier than before. Doubts began to gnaw on his conscience, undermining his determination. You behave like a spoiled child, they whispered. You are throwing your family away on a whim, on a roll of a dice. You are tearing apart everything they have fought to build. And also… She will laugh at you. She will be afraid. She will leave you.
He spun around again. It was not his imagination, that voice identical to his own calling out in the wind. Elladan brought his horse to a halt beside him. 'You and your stubbornness,' he breathed out, panting. 'If Erebrandir dies of exhaustion beneath me, on your head be it.'
Elrohir could not help but grin, relief flooding over him. 'Poor pony,' he replied, 'I am afraid there is no steed that could match Faingil here…'
'Pony?' Elladan scoffed. 'You ride a horse that does not belong to you, brother. Do not insult others' mounts.' He patted his roan's neck. 'Erebrandir is a war steed; trained by Glorfindel as well, in case you have forgotten.'
'Then maybe you are the one out of shape…' smirked Elrohir. 'You should consider eating less, if your war steed has difficulties carrying you…'
His brother laughed, and Elrohir felt elated, their playful banter like a respite, a moment out of time. Then he glanced to the stars above.
'I have to go,' he said softly.
'I know.' Elladan nodded, sobering. 'I know. And this is what brings me here, Elrohir. Let us not be parted in bitterness and anger. Let us be brothers, together to the end, whichever it may be…' He opened his arms. 'Elrohir, I...' He smiled guiltily.
'I know,' Elrohir shook his head, 'I know, Elladan. Let us not talk about it anymore.' He smiled at the surprised expression on his twin's face. 'Brothers, remember?' Before Elladan could protest, he turned his horse around and kicked it into a gallop. 'Wait!' he thought he had heard, but as he glanced behind, Elladan raised a hand in farewell. 'Go, Flower King! Ride, and bring back your betrothed! Bring her back to Imladris!' he called out.
Who knows, Imladris might yet see its halls filled with a child's laughter, the ancient settlement a heirloom to the blood of the Half-Elven. Elrohir grinned as Faingil snorted beneath him and shook his mane. The flowers trembled but held on, much to the steed's annoyance. Reining in his own impatience, Elrohir raced to his precious goal. Down the dusty road, under the pale stars and through the plain, singing along with his heart.
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.