His Noldorin sword moaned its tragic song of death as it whirled and clanged and scraped against rusted iron, bit into bone and sliced through blackened, putrid flesh. No time to think, only to kill, to allow his instincts to slaughter and maim – incapacitate, temporarily or otherwise.
He was alight, eyes wide, concentration at its peak as he turned this way and that, feeling rather than seeing where the next attack would come from, for his eyes were not sufficient, not for so many. He smelled them, felt their brush of darkness, heard their heavy boots and guttural grunts, captured the slightest of air currents as their crude weapons sought his flesh.
A blow glanced off his forearm shield, knocking his arm away from its intended victim. Turning to face his attacker, his eyes widened for a moment as his brain processed the sheer size and power of the Uruk that now towered before him; it smirked almost cheekily, thought Elrohir, somewhat puzzled that his mind had thought of that particular adjective for an Uruk in the heat of battle, no less. It was almost funny, except that the beast took that moment to raise its mighty scimitar once again and land what would surely have been a fatal blow, if only from the force behind it, save that the Noldorin warrior deflected it, albeit with difficulty, feeling his bones shudder and his muscles flex painfully as sinews were stretched to their limits.
This was no easy adversary, no hulking, clumsy beast, for the power behind each blow was wearing down his strength. He needed to be quicker, more agile, and yet he had been fighting for long minutes – he needed to avoid the blows, outwit it, somehow. But how could he strategize when he hardly had the time to think, for every iota of strength and attention was channeled into defending himself from the brutal onslaught.
He wanted to look around him, seek a nearby ally, perhaps, but he daren’t turn his eyes from the Uruk – he was trapped, with no other way out than to fight it head on, find the strength he did not think he had left.
A strangled scream to his right told him a comrade had fallen and still, the blows rained down on him mercilessly, forcing him backwards to where he knew not, for he daren’t look.
The snapping of wood and a thud that hurt to hear, not heavy enough for an orc – another warrior, then. They were in deep trouble, and Elrohir’s heart sank to the now muddy, rust coloured ground on which he trod, frantically yet skillfully holding his stance.
His vision tilted violently before an unnatural haze threw everything out of focus. A warm rush of liquid over his left cheek, and then the explosion of pain and nausea, told him of the blow that had evaded his defense. It had been enough to knock him sideways, sending him down on one knee, at the utter mercy of his attacker.
All sound vanished then, except for that of his own pounding, straining heart. His vision swam nauseatingly and his arms would not obey his frantic commands to defend himself, lift his weapon and stave off another blow that was sure to come. He could not – he was dead weight.
The thought accelerated his already frantic heartbeat, his breathing becoming harsh as it rapidly turned into gasps of anxiety. He was to die this day. His skin prickled as he wondered, now, strangely detached, where the final blow would land. Would the Uruk smash his head in? Cut his throat perhaps? Or would it slice its scimitar cruelly over his abdomen, spewing his guts into the mud as he died a slow, agonizing death?
One more futile attempt at moving his arms told Elrohir it was in vain and he thought of his twin brother, his tragic sister, and his grieving father – those that were left to him on Arda. And then he thought of the love that would never be, for there was no time, no time to nurture it, to woo and to proposition. He was to perish, and all he had hoped for, now that he had finally found him, became – unimportant, insignificant before the immensity of his own, certain death.
The silence echoed, hollow, as if he were inside some strange container that smelled of rust. For all he knew, the killing blow had already been delivered and he was half way to Mandos – painless and final, he mused. His mind’s eye gifted him for one last time with the face of he who would never know of his regard, would never understand the bliss that Elrohir had felt when his heart had told him his search was over.
He saw the crown of silken blond hair, and the face that haunted his dreams, that tugged at his heart, that saddened him to the very core when he thought of ever losing him. And yet he had never had him, never would.
The face began to fade as the sun moved out from behind the now shimmering mirage. He felt its warmth upon his already heated skin, his body strangely, blissfully cushioned. It comforted him as he held to the fading vision for as long as he was able, until light filled his eyes, blinding him and he spiraled up into the heavens, away from the battle, life and love.
When the tide had finally been turned, Elladan was to be found knelt upon the ruined earth as it squelched at his boots, sucked him down into the filth that slowly penetrated cloth and chilled skin. His white hands grasped compulsively at the bloody mud at his sides, as a lover caressing beloved flesh – yet these hands were unfeeling, cold, numb, for the truth could not be spoken.
He was distantly aware of a dull throb in his knees, for he had made no attempt to break his fall. He welcomed it, gave thanks for the physical pain that anchored him mercifully in his self-imposed oblivion for just a little longer, kept him ignorant for but a few more, blessed moments, for should the truth be known now, surely his heart would cease to beat, wrenched apart by the blinding agony that would accompany the knowledge of his beloved brother’s death…
Elladan’s eyes roved unfeelingly over the sight before him. Legolas knelt upon the ground, the body that was so like Elladan’s, draped over the regal lap, the face that reflected his own, cradled in the nook of the Sylvan warrior’s strong shoulder, supporting the lax neck as best he could, as a father and his newly born child. Elladan’s ignorant eyes moved to the river of black silk, hair that was his own as it cascaded over the green velvet and brown leather of the prince’s attire.
He watched in detached fascination as his brother’s left arm draped to the ground, almost touching the reddened mud in its lifeless elegance. Perhaps if he watched closely, for long enough, he would see those long, skilled fingers reach out and caress the silty carpet of sodden earth.
His stubbornly oblivious eyes travelled back up to the figure that protected the body, his own golden mantle providing a curtain around him that provided a modicum of privacy, yet it was not enough to hide the tears that poured from those extraordinarily luminous blue eyes. He cried, mused Elladan unfeelingly. Perhaps, he reasoned coldly, the prince had harboured the same feelings that his brother had felt for this Sylvan scion of the house of Oropher, feelings only recently awakened, feelings that his brother had yet to give voice to, that now...
Strange, and oddly cruel, that such a realization should come now, when …. Nay – when what? ‘Do not say it!’ he roared to himself. Cold balance returned to him and that distant throb in his own knees returned… ‘good, very good’.
It was then, that his mind was startled from its search for physical pain and evasion. The blond head turned to face him, and as the angelic visage met him head on, a mask of such deep agony ripped into his own heart and he felt the fortified walls of his mind begin to slip away; no… no… don’t…
“No, don’t, stop…”
“He lives,” whispered the prince, his endless tears bathing his brother unashamedly, washing the ashen face with unconfessed love, and as Elladan’s trembling eyes travelled once more to the strong, lax fingers, he saw now in dawning truth, a gentle flex, a slow, tentative stroke of skilled fingers over bloody mud, as a lover caresses beloved flesh.
They say that youth is beauty, yet to me with age comes wisdom, and wisdom… is beauty. Happy birthday! and thank you for being such an encouraging and faithful reviewer, and a wonderfully skilled and entertaining story-teller.
Beta reader: Curious Wombat. Thanks a million!
Beta reader: Curious Wombat. Thanks a million!