Chapter 1 - Abandoned
"Nana, are you going to tell us a story tonight?" Elurín gazed hopefully up into his mother's face. He didn't like it when she looked so serious; both he and his brother loved her laughter.
Next to him, Eluréd clapped his hands and laughed. "Oh, yes, Nana! Tell us a story, please?"
But Elurín could see that Nana had other things on her mind. She kept looking back over her shoulder. "Nana," he asked quietly. "Are you all right?" He tipped his head – something he'd learned from his Ada – and listened. Somewhere, far to the front of the many hallways that comprised Menegroth, there was a racket. "What is all the noise?"
Nana looked like some of the color had faded from her face. "It is nothing, my little one. But I fear I shall not be able to tell you stories this night. Your Ada and I need to attend to some…"
"Is it a party, Nana?" Eluréd asked with his eyes wide. "Can we watch? We promise we will be very quiet, and nobody will know…"
"No, sweetling, it is no party that makes noise like that." Nana bent over their bed. "Let me give you each a special kiss to send you quickly into the Land of Dreams."
Nana's "special kisses" were a treat. Somehow she could make Elurín feel very safe and loved with just that one little gesture. She saved them back, as treats for being good, or sometimes as a way to get him to do something he might not want to. She would press her cheek against his and hum very softly and low, and the sound could calm him when nothing else could.
Somehow, the "special kiss" was especially sweet this night, and he snuggled down next to his twin with a contented sigh. Eluréd did the same in his turn, wrapping his arm around Elurín's waist in a gesture of protection that had been a constant, and laying his head on Elurín's shoulder.
Nana's hands played with their curls for a little while longer, as if she maybe didn't really want to leave. And then, suddenly, Elurín heard the sound of her soft footsteps going towards the door, and then closing it after.
"What do you think that noise is, if it is not a party?" Eluréd whispered at him.
Elurín shrugged his shoulder. "I do not know." He listened hard, wishing that Nana hadn't closed the door to their bedchamber all the way this time. Normally she left it a little bit open, so that some of the light could sneak in. He yawned. "We shall have to ask tomorrow."
Eluréd yawned too. " Yea…"
In no time at all, both of them had drifted off into dreams of parties.
The crash of the door bursting open frightened them both from their dreams, and Eluréd clung to his brother. Their fears waned a little when they realized that it was their Nana that had rushed in – Nana and the Captain Dúraeglir of the wide smile and the sparkling laugh.
"Awaken, boys!" Captain boomed, his voice, as always, sounding jovial. "This is a very special evening, and you do not wish to miss it."
"Come now," Nana added her smile to the mix. "Get into your outdoor clothing now, quickly."
"Nana…" Eluréd yawned and rubbed at his eye. "Is it still dark?"
Nana sat down on the edge of the bed and gathered one of them to each side. "Yes, my best ones, it is still dark. But this is a very special time, and you must hurry to get ready." She nudged Eluréd to get him to sit up and not snuggle down against her. "Come now, up with you."
Eluréd noticed that his brother was no happier about the development than he was. Nana pulled his heavier, woolen shirt and leggings on, and then his soft suede trousers and tunic, while Captain did the same to Elurín. There was a crash in the distance, and Nana turned a frightened face to Captain. "That was…"
"Go on with you, Lady," Captain reassured her firmly as he tugged the tunic into place at last. "I shall see to your sons' safety. I shall find Eirien and Elwing, and we shall keep the children safe." He nodded and gestured to the door. "Go, and may the stars light your way."
"Elbereth!" Nana breathed softly and looked slowly from one little face to the other. "Be good for Captain Dúraeglir, and do exactly as he tells you. Will you do that for me?"
"Yes, Nana," Elurín nodded, his eyes wide.
Eluréd started to sniffle. "Nana…"
Surprisingly, Nana bent and gave each of them another of her "special kisses" before turning and running from the room. She wasn't acting right, and Eluréd was beginning to think that maybe things weren't all right after all. He looked up at the Captain and saw the tight, worried look. "What is wrong?"
Captain looked down, and the worried look faded into the familiar smile. "Why, nothing is the matter, little one. But hurry now - take up your cloaks and come along. We must be away."
"But what about…"
"Did your Nana not tell you to do as I told you?" Captain's brows nearly met over his nose.
"Yes, sir," Eluréd sighed. One day, when he was all grown up, he would never confuse little boys in the middle of the night.
He put his hand up, and knew that his twin had done the same. But Captain didn't want to just walk with them at his side; no, Captain leaned down and gathered them both up in his arms. "I want you boys to put your heads on my shoulders and close your eyes now," he directed, and Eluréd could hear that all of the happiness, the joy, the laughter, had left his voice. "Do not open your eyes."
"Why…" began Elurín.
"I must ask you not to ask questions. You must be very quiet as well, so no whispers or talking."
"Where is Elwing?" Elurín insisted. Eluréd wrinkled his nose; his sister was nothing but a pest who followed them around and wouldn't leave them alone most of the time.
"We go to find her," Captain said softly and began to walk quickly through the halls. "Heads down and eyes closed now."
The noise was awful beyond their bedchamber door, and it was very tempting to open his eyes to see just what was making all the crashing and clanging, and just how many people were there that couldn't stop shouting at each other, but Eluréd kept his word and pressed his face into the side of Captain's neck. Captain's hold was very firm and very sure beneath his bottom, but Eluréd wrapped his arm around his neck anyway – only to find out that Elurín had done so already.
The noises grew louder, and the shouting angrier, although now he could hear cries as if some of the grown Elves were in pain. "Just a bit more," Captain whispered, having stopped for a moment. "Do not look, children."
Eluréd began to shake. Something was very wrong, and everyone in Menegroth was involved. He wished he dared call out for his Nana, but Captain had told them that they had to be very quiet. From the arm that lay beneath his around Captain's neck, he could tell his brother was just as frightened.
"Just where do you think you are going?" a very angry and unfamiliar voice demanded from behind them, and suddenly Eluréd could feel Captain falter. His hold on him slipped so that only Eluréd's hold about his neck kept him from falling; but Elurín hadn't held on as tightly, because that arm beneath his slipped away.
"They are just…" Captain's voice sounded very far away, very strange, and Eluréd couldn't resist the temptation to open his eyes and look at his Nana's old friend. Captain's face was white, and his lips moved without sound; and suddenly there was red liquid bubbling from between Captain's lips, and he was falling.
Rough hands grabbed his arm and hurt him, and Eluréd cried out, a sound that he heard mirrored from a short distance away. "Elurín!" he called and struggled. He looked up into a very angry face that he'd never seen before. "Elurín!"
The blow to his head came out of nowhere. "Shut up, brat! And shut that one up too, Barafaer." Eluréd heard the sound of flesh striking flesh, and his brother's sudden, aborted call back to him.
Now that his eyes were open, Eluréd stared around him in shock. Scattered about on the floor were people he had seen all his life, most of them in pools of dark red, with eyes that stared out at nothing. On some, gaping wounds could be seen in necks and arms. "Nana," he whimpered at the sight of one crumpled Elf that looked so very much… Yes, that was the gown she had been wearing. "Nana!" he called desperately and began to squirm against the iron hand that held him fast.
"Fire and shadows! These are Dior's brats!" the angry one who held him growled. "Slit their throats and be done with them."
"I do not care whose children they are," snapped another, "I do not spill the blood of the young and innocent."
"We need not do anything but let them go," drawled a third. "Take them out into the forest, far enough that they cannot find their way back, and leave them there. The cold of the storm and hunger will do for us what some of us are too good to do for ourselves."
"These are the heirs of the one who slew our Lord!" the man who held him snarled, and Eluréd screamed when a heavy hand grabbed his hair and dragged his head back to put cold, sharp metal to his throat.
"Stop that!" a fourth voice ordered, and Eluréd sobbed as the painful tug on his hair went away, as did the blade at his throat. "Urhador is right. Take them out into the forest, bind their hands and feet, and leave them. No matter what these others may have done, we do not spill the blood of innocents."
His hands were yanked behind him hard enough to make his shoulders scream, and he did too. He tried to kick at anyone bending to bind his feet, only earning himself another heavy blow to the head that dazed him. By the time he had cleared away the fog from his thoughts, he was unable to move. He looked over and caught a glimpse of Elurín fighting back in much the same way, and flinched when a tall man in armor that had all kinds of splatters on it balled up his fist and slammed it into Elurín's chin.
"Get rid of them, and then hurry back. That jewel has to be here somewhere, and I intend to find and present it to our Lords myself."
Eluréd was picked up and thrown over a shoulder roughly. "I save that Morgoth's son's life, and what does he have me doing?" the man who carried him complained bitterly once they were outside the warm hallways of home. "Hauling the trash out into the forest."
"Shut your face, Urvaeth," came a growl from not far away and a little behind. "This is not trash we dispose of here. These two are potential enemies who would stop at nothing to get revenge for what we did this day. We protect our lives and that of the rest of our people."
"We had better find that jewel this time," Urvaeth grumbled, hefting Eluréd a little more securely over the shoulder and driving the air from his lungs in the process.
Between the chill of the winter wind and the fact that Eluréd was more frightened than he had ever been in his life, he shivered and shook so hard that Urvaeth cuffed him again. "Stay still, brat, or I can take the knife to your throat. You choose."
Eluréd's mind brought back the sickly feel of the cold metal against his throat, and he forced himself to not shiver anymore than what he had no control over.
Time seemed to crawl, and Eluréd had no idea how long it had been or how far they had been taken when suddenly Urvaeth stopped. "That will do," he announced and hauled him off his shoulder and dumped him onto the hard ground.
"No further than this?" the man carrying Elurín asked tiredly.
"I do not know about you, but I do not intend to be away from the action any longer than absolutely necessary," Urvaeth snapped. "If you want to carry them further out, you do it without my help."
Eluréd watched in horror as the tall man carrying Elurín shifted and dropped his brother like a sack of grain on the granary floor, and he heard a soft crack as his twin hit the ground, as well as the sharp cry of pain. "Fine," the other man grumbled. "This should be far enough out that there will be no chance of finding them before they meet their doom." He slapped Urvaeth on the back. "Let us return now, before our people leave us stranded out here." The two warriors broke into an easy trot, heading back the way they had come.
He waited for a long moment, until he was fairly certain that the men were actually gone for good, and then he began to squirm through the fresh-fallen snow. Normally, playing in the snow was something he enjoyed a great deal, but being tied hand and foot and nearly face-down in it was something entirely different. "Elurín!" he called out desperately, "are you all right?"
"My arm hurts something terrible," Elurín was crying. "Why did they do that to us? What did we do?"
"I do not know," Eluréd said, trying not to think of seeing his mother so quiet, so still, on the floor of the hallway.
"What are we going to do now?"
Eluréd rolled and tried to sit up, but couldn't quite do it. "I do not know that either," he said, his fear growing inside him until he was trembling again.
It was very cold; the wind pierced through suede and wool as if a knife through soft butter. Soft, fluffy, wet snowflakes fell all around, covering the ground and filling the slight evidence of their arrival. It wouldn't be long before there would be no indication which direction home lay in.
Aside from his brother's whimpers and sniffles, it was quiet. There were no birds, for they had long since flown away to warmer lands, Ada said. Ada! The thought of his father, possibly lying on a floor like Nana was somewhere else in Menegroth, made Eluréd choke back a sob.
They were lost, they were helpless, and he didn't have the vaguest idea of what to do next. So Eluréd did the only thing he could.
He squirmed and wriggled until he had brought himself as close to his brother as he could, and then he began to weep.
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.