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No one is to stay by mangacrack

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Chapter notes:

Written for the LotR Yule Exchange. Prompt by Silver Trails: Elladan and Elrohir in the wildderness. They can be fighting or tracking Orcs, or maybe just traveling to far lands.

Trembling hands closed around his sword, relieved to have his weapon in his hands again after an Orc nearly knocked it out his hands. Elladan pushed the lose strands of his hair out of his face but sweat, dirt and blood made it difficult. Taking a deep breath he surveyed his surroundings. Most Orc's were dead. Only a few fallen still moaned in pain.

Elladan glanced at the Orc closest to him. The face was twisted in pain and the Son of Elrond winced in sympathy. One strong blow with his sword had cut the Orc's legs of and he was bleeding out painfully. A man would've been already dead at this point but Orc's were resilient. Thousands of years of fighting in unfavorable conditions made it actually difficult to kill them swiftly though that was their only advantage. Usually they lacked the skill and the knowledge to be fearful opponents on a battlefield.

There was a reason they traveled in large groups, used ambushes and tried to outnumber their enemies before charging into an attack.

"Elven filth," the orc cursed Elladan. "Do have nothing better to do with your immortal live to come and watch me die?"

"I want to make sure you'll find your end in this place," Elladan answered. His breathing had calmed and with practiced ease he regained his composure.

Centuries of battling Orc's made this evening into nothing more than an exercise. They had been alone, he and Elrohir, carrying a bundle with important herbs from Cirdan to their father when they encountered the band of roughly thirty Orc's. Perhaps most elves would've retreated and chosen to hide instead of attacking Morgoth's slaves but neither he and Elrohir had something to fear. Together they cut through the untrained ranks of bandits, recreating a deadly dance they practiced every day since centuries.

Not even their father lost sleep anymore when his sons rode out again, alone more often than they had company. There were not many warriors left in Imladris who could stand against them and win. The warriors matching their age often lacked skill and the spirit, born into peaceful times in which the darker days rarely touched their daily lives.

Of the older warriors only those who fought through the First Age still possessed the strength to give the twins trouble. Even Glorfindel was forced to yield on occasion, courtesy to their experience. Elladan glanced down at the orc again. A blow with Glorfindel's sword would've cut the creature in half. What the twins gained through years of practice and experience, the Vanya made up by this strength. Much to their disappointment there truly was a difference in height and strength between those born in Aman and those raised in Middle Earth.

"Well, Elf," the Orc's spats, choking on the blood filling his mouth. "Soon I'll be rid of your presence. I'm glad. There are better ways to die than in the presence of Maedhros' Heirs."

"Don't mock me, slave of Morgoth. You know nothing of my kin and I'll end your remaining life in the most painful I know before you sully their names further." Elladan towered over the dying orc and slammed his boot down on the ribcage. The orc coughed up blood and howled in pain but it didn't get rid of his nasty grin.

"I know more of your kin than you, two-souled elven scum," the Orc coughed. "I lived through three ages of the world. It's shameful for me die by a hand of someone who has an incomplete fëa because he shares it with someone else."

Fury rose in Elladan and he pressed to tip of his sword against the bare neck of the orc. His fingers itched to pull through and end the odd conversation he was having with the charred and enslaved fëa but his own curiosity held him back. Not many among their kind bothered to learn more about Orc's, to look past their ugly face and their twisted nature but after they lost their mother he and Elrohir hadn't stopped looking for ways to free Middle Earth from Morgoth's twisted experiments.

One unsettling discovery had been the high age orc's could reach. Still possessing the elvish immortality once given to them, the older ones kept to themselves under the mountains and send to younger ones to pillage and plunder. Another reason why the Sons of Elrond never rested in their mission to free the land from the black shadow. The orc's they fought were untrained youngsters while their Kings and Chieftains safely dispatched troops to the surface.

"Nothing you say can unsettle me, slave of Morgoth," Elladan answered. An unholy light was reflect by his eyes. "You'll be dead soon and when I burn your body I'll ask Námo to take you into his care so that you'll be reborn in Aman where you can never harm anyone again."

Now the orc's eyes widened in horror.

"No, no. I refuse to suffer this fate," he screamed. "I serve Melkor, the true flame and will join him after my death. He'll reward me and I'll kill you when he opens the doors and conquers this world again."

Elladan bend down, kneeling next to the orc and whispered, "May have Námo mercy on your soul."

He didn't have to slit the orc's throat after that. Instead Elladan watched how the eyes of the fallen creature light up one final time.

"I can see now why our wise Queen calls you Maedhros' Heirs." The orc struggled with his voice as he grew weaker. "Since him there's never been one who fought us with such ferocity. They say he defends the Doors of the Night from the inside, keeping our master at bay. I hope you join him one day so that Melkor can destroy your fëa personally when he returns to slaughter this world."

Elladan was still kneeling next to the dead orc when Elrohir joined him after finishing the task of slitting throats. Now silence claimed the land. The sun had long disappeared behind the horizon, leaving the twins alone under the clouded, starless sky.

"I heard everything," Elrohir confessed and put a hand on his brother's shoulder. "I admit it's unsettling."

With a deep breath Elladan rose to his feet, eyes still not leaving the fallen orc.

"I don't know what disturbs me more, the possibility Morgoth's slaves know more of the world beyond this one than us or that their version is kinder to the House of Fëanor than our own."

Elrohir hums in agreement. "Well, we have learned enough from father to know that Maedhros rather fights Morgoth and guard the Doors of the Night than following the Call of Mandos."

"Let's hope that at least his brothers are with him," Elladan murmurs and pulls Elrohir close to banish the dark thoughts from his mind.

As he buries his face in his brother's neck, Elladan slowly allows his unsettled heart to rest. Ever since he heard Maedhros Fëanorian name coming from the lips of an enemy, a hollow feeling had taken hold of him. For all his skill and bravery, compared to the uncrowned king of Beleriand he's a small boy playing with a wooden sword in the garden. Being named his heir is frightening. Though it can be only true in spirit, not in blood relation and the orc most likely lied anyway. As old as he claimed to be, the wretched creature probably knew enough to rattle his killers soul beyond his death.

"Let's build the pyres," his twins says, patting Elladan's back.

Exchanging words on the matter is unnecessary. The subject has taken root in their hearts and soon it will bloom bright enough that they can talk about it. For now Elladan is glad he can focus on a task to forget what happened. Together they build a pile of dead bodies and light it aflame. Only when the smoke raises to the sky, the return to their horses, eager to get home for once and gather their remaining family in their arms.

Neither Elrohir nor Elladan look back as they leave the battlefield behind them.

The funeral pyre burns through the night, consuming the charred flesh of what was once an elvish body. Unseen by everyone a dark hooded figure stand by the fire and collects the souls as they're freed from their bodies. Námo cradles the wailing, traumatized fëa close to his heart when he returns to his hall, leaving Maedhros' Heirs to do their work while the father of their ferocity does his.

Chapter end notes:

Notes on Worldbuilding: I've shied away from writing Elladan and Elrohir before since I wasn't sure I could do them justice. In most stories people forget the impact the early events of the Third Age would've on them. Like, all the stuff with Angmar and Arnor. And while I'm a fan of the twins during dark(er) after their mother's capture by Orc's I also always thought that they were wiser than that. Hence the came the discussion between Elladan and an Orc what happens after death.

Maedhros' guarding the Doors of the Night from the other side was an idea that struck me while writing while Elladan prays to Námo. It's canon that the Valar posted a guard before the Doors of the Night, so why not make sure that the Door truly never opens? I'm quite satisfied how the religious elements blend together with the supernatural ones. I guess that Námo sees the twins as something like his priests. Not exactly of the preaching kind, rather ones doing his work as orc-ish undertakers while making sure that the souls are send onto the right path. Blame the fact that I've written paganism among Elves in my last stories.

At last, the Orcs. I've many, many issues with Tolkien's Orcs. They are dumb, ugly and most importantly hateable. An easy trap. Hence why I had to include some kind of reference how Orc-ish culture works in my eyes. So yes, Orc Queens. There has to be a reason why we have never seen a female Orc.