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The Dark of Night

Chapter 2: Chapter 2

by ellie

Many thanks to my betas: Chrissie, Nerdanel Istarnie

Disclaimer: Most of this is Tolkien's. I make no money from this.

Terms: fëa - spirit
Calaquendi - elves of light (elves of Valinor)
elleth - female elf
ellon - male elf


Chapter 2
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Darkness was the first thing that Elrond noticed when he came to awareness. What had awoken him? Celebrian snuggled closer against the chill of the autumn night. Her head nestled into his shoulder, splaying her hair in a silvery glory across his chest. He felt her warm breath on his neck as he rested his head against hers, trying to go back to sleep.

The sound came again. Apparently he had not imagined it.

Carefully disentangling himself from his lovely wife, he slipped away. Throwing a robe over his shoulders, he opened the door as the persistent knocker finished pounding yet again.

A disheveled stable hand stood before Elrond. Bowing awkwardly, the ellon breathlessly said, “Your pardon, my Lord Elrond for awakening you. Lord Glorfindel’s patrol has returned and you are needed immediately. There are 13 wounded, some from Lord Glorfindel’s patrol and some from the regular patrol with which he met up this evening. The officer in command begs you to come quickly. Lord Glorfindel is among the injured and … and it is horrible, my lord.”

Elrond nodded. “Thank you. I will come at once. Go alert the healers to make ready for many patients.”

“Yes, my lord,” the ellon replied as he bowed. He hurried away down the corridor as Elrond closed the door.

Elrond rushed back through the sitting room to the bedroom, discarding his robe and night clothes as he went. Celebrian was already up and laying out clothes for him to change into.

“I heard,” she said. “What could have happened that Glorfindel and so many others were injured?”

Elrond sighed as he began to dress. “I do not know. Considering Glorfindel only left yesterday morning, it must have been something very bad for him to have returned so soon.”

He hurriedly put on his clothes and she braided his hair as he pulled on his boots. “Go wake the twins and tell them to meet me in the healing wing.”

“Yes, of course,” she replied.

Fastening his last boot strap, he turned and gave her a quick kiss. “Say a prayer that this is not as bad as my heart tells me that it is.”

He saw her nod as he rose and raced out of the room.

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Glorfindel’s third in command, a Sinda named Angaril was helping to bear Glorfindel’s litter up to the main part of the house as Elrond approached. The soldier was overly pale and his grey eyes were haunted as he halted and bowed low.

“My Lord Elrond, I bring very grave news. We explored the site of the last attack then made our camp with the regular patrol within the borders of Imladris. The…the “enemy” attacked, taking out four of the warriors on watch. Then it attacked the camp. We never stood a chance. Some managed to draw weapons and even fire a few arrows, but to no avail. Lord Glorfindel kept it…them at bay by the light of his fëa at first and they fled. But when he relaxed his stance and his power, they attacked him. There was nothing we could do. He lives, my lord, but barely.”

Elrond leaned over and touched Glorfindel’s ashen face and neck. The golden-haired warrior’s heart beat was weak and his breast barely rose with each breath. Elrond looked under the blanket and saw the blood-stained bandage covering his friend’s broad chest.

“Do you know what did this to him?” Elrond asked.

“No, my lord,” Angaril replied. “However, before he lost consciousness, Lord Glorfindel did say that he knew what the creature…creatures were. He said ‘it was the death of the Trees’. I asked him for clarification for no trees had died and he said that he spoke of the Two Trees. He said he remembered because he was there when they died.”

Elrond looked over at the ellon in surprise. “The death of the Trees?” He pondered this for a moment, then felt his eyes grow wide. “That is impossible,” he said almost to himself, shaking his head in disbelief. “It is just not possible. It cannot still exist. It was destroyed.”

They resumed their trek toward the house, with Elrond walking alongside Angaril, helping to bear Glorfindel’s unconscious body.

“My lord,” Angaril offered as they approached the doors. “We discussed Lord Glorfindel’s words on the ride back here for it was a slow journey, bearing so many wounded. The only thing that any of us could remember about the death of the Trees was that a creature destroyed them at Morgoth’s bidding. Unfortunately, all of those among us who actually have had much study in the lore of Valinor were among the injured. One warrior joked that perhaps the creatures did that on purpose, attacked those who they thought might know about them. The soldier beside him reprimanded him, saying this was all too bitter for jest. Yet, it did make us wonder, especially when we noticed that all of the injured had in them the blood of the Noldorin.”

Elrond pondered this a moment, then looked over at the lieutenant. “Are you suggesting that whatever attacked these soldiers singled them out for a reason?”

“My lord, look around you. Is it not odd who remains to bear the wounded and who we are bearing away? Those of us who were not injured were temporarily incapacitated, the breath stolen from our bodies, the blood frozen in our veins while our comrades in arms screamed all around us, also unable to move as the creatures drew blood and we know not what else from them. Even Lord Glorfindel screamed as if the very life were being sucked from him. My lord, he has slain a balrog and yet …” Angaril’s voice trailed off.

They entered the house and started down the corridor to the healing wing, passing newly roused servants and kin of the soldiers along the way. Many gasped in alarm when they saw Glorfindel being carried by.

When the train of litter bearers reached a clear section of the corridor, Angaril quietly spoke again, “My lord, we believe that it took eight of them to bring him down. Every one of the other warriors bore only one puncture wound to the chest and one to the back, indicating that two creatures attacked. The creatures dropped down out of the trees without warning – even the trees did not know they were there until the creatures attacked us.

We were all so terrified by what had transpired that we drew lots to see who would stay and man the regular patrol and who would bear the wounded back here. I am the senior unwounded officer, so I returned to report to you. We need to send relief and reinforcements to the patrol, my lord. Or perhaps… Please forgive me, I know this sounds ludicrous for it would mean leaving our borders unguarded, but perhaps we should recall them. There is nothing they can do against the creatures if they are attacked again.”

Elrond was silent, brooding over all that he had heard. They entered a room and carefully lifted Glorfindel onto a bed. After Angaril briefed Elrond on how Glorfindel’s wounds had been treated, Elrond sent him to submit a detailed report to Erestor, then settled in to begin treatment.

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News of the attack had spread quickly through Imladris. That afternoon, the council chamber was once again filled. Lord Glorfindel’s empty chair was occupied by an uncomfortable Lieutenant Angaril, who opened the meeting with his account of what had transpired the previous day and night.

Weary from the healings, Elrond looked around at the anxious faces. Any lingering doubt as to the true danger of the situation was utterly vanquished by the report of what had happened to Glorfindel. Genuine fear, the likes of which most of those present had never before known, now flooded the room with the realization that they were all defenseless against whatever this menace was. For if mighty Glorfindel the balrog slayer could not stand against the menace, how could they?

Knowing it might add to the growing restlessness in the chamber, Elrond spoke, “I believe that most, if not all of the injured will survive. They have lost much blood, but that is not what weakens them the most. As with all of the other victims, something else was taken from them as well. Something of their very fëa it would seem. And that is what I do not know how to heal.”

Turning to Erestor, Elrond asked, “What have you found in your research of what Glorfindel suggested was the nature of the menace?”

Erestor opened one of the two books which lay in front of him, a red ribbon marking the page. “Glorfindel suggested that Ungoliant was the menace which attacked him. We know that Ungoliant did indeed consume light and things of light and then used the light to spin webs of interminable darkness. I found an account of Ungoliant’s attack upon the Two Trees in Valinor, and found that she did indeed have a paralyzing effect upon those near her when she attacked. This paralysis did seem to be similar to what Lieutenant Angaril described. After Ungoliant drained the light from the Trees, she went on to consume the light from half of the jewels Morgoth had stolen from Fëanor’s horde in Formenos. Afterward she grew to such a hideous size that even Morgoth is said to have feared her. She spun a web of darkness and shadow about her so none could see her as she traveled, swinging on her web from mountain top to mountain top. This is consistent with reports of the menace suddenly appearing and disappearing. She fled away to the South in Middle-earth.”

Erestor opened the other book before him to another marked page. “However, it is also documented that Ungoliant was indeed destroyed shortly before the fall of the Havens at Sirion. On one of Eärendil’s last journeys before the fall, he found and slew Ungoliant. It is said he slew her with arrows and sword.”

Taking a deep breath, he concluded, “Therefore whatever assails us now is not Ungoliant. It may be offspring of hers or some other kin of hers, but it is not her.”

There was an audible sigh in the room.

Puzzled, Elrond turned to Erestor, “So why attack us here and why now? What is to be gained?”

But, it was Lieutenant Angaril who answered. “Lord Elrond, if I may be so bold…” Elrond and Erestor looked over at him in surprise.

“Proceed,” Elrond said, noting Angaril’s nervousness. The ellon had never attended a council session before today.

Taking a deep breath, Angaril said, “I believe I may have an answer for you. If you recall, this morning you and I discussed the possibility that the victims were chosen by the adversary for a reason. I pointed out to you that every ellon injured in the attack last night had the blood of the Noldorin in him. But what is more, every one of them had the light of Valinor about him… Thus marking each of them as “Calaquendi.” Lord Erestor said Ungoliant consumed light, and these creatures, we now speculate, are offspring of hers. So, perhaps…perhaps they also seek to consume light. That would explain why the creatures ignored the Sindar among our patrol and only attacked the Noldorin.” He paused and looked questioningly around the room. When he met Elrond’s eye, he received a nod of encouragement.

“But, they did not attack Lord Glorfindel when he put forth his power. They fled from his light. However, as soon as he relaxed, they attacked him and his light was taken from him. My lord, could they also fear what they must consume in order to survive?”

Elrond raised his eyebrows and nodded. “Excellent point, Lieutenant, and plausible. Ungoliant was said to have feared the light of the Two Trees and only attacked them once Morgoth wounded them. So why is it, do you think, that these creatures attack here and now?”

Angaril was silent for a few moments, then replied, “My lord, though there is or was peace and our numbers grow again, the elves dwell almost exclusively in the north now. Also, there are fewer descendants of Valinor left in Midde-earth. There are more of them here in and near Imladris and in Lothlorien than anywhere else. Do not predators follow their source of food when the herds migrate?”

The answer Angaril received was restless movement and mutterings from around the room.

Elrond was deeply impressed with this soldier’s observations and conclusions. They were concise, logical, and, he feared, most probably correct.

Turning to Erestor for confirmation of one last detail, Elrond asked, “Lord Erestor, of what kindred were the other victims of the creatures?”

Erestor searched through his notes for a few minutes, a mixture of awe and concern growing on his face the whole while. “My lord,” he finally answered, “Every victim was of Noldorin descent, some half-blooded and some full-blooded. And, every victim lost the light of his or her fëa after the attack.”

Elrond looked around at his lords and councilors as the news sunk in. The tension was almost palpable as those of Noldorin descent stiffened in apprehension and those of the Sindar relaxed a bit, apparently relieved to be off of the menu.

“Lieutenant Angaril,” Elrond said, “You are in charge of Imladris’s defenses until further notice. Send Sindarin warriors to replace the Noldorin on the patrols and recall the Noldorin soldiers. I also want you to choose some of your best warriors to serve as escorts for the messengers I am sending to the other elven realms.”

Angaril’s face was full of shocked disbelief. Obviously he was not expecting the sudden and hopefully temporary promotion. “Yes, my lord. Thank you, my lord,” he shakily replied.

Addressing one of the scribes, Elrond said, “Compile detailed notes from this meeting. I will draft a letter for King Amroth as our findings closely concern his subjects. I will also draft letters for Cirdan and Thranduil as well.”

“My lords, make it known to the people of Imladris that there is a mandatory curfew and no one is to go outside after sundown unless absolutely necessary until we have a better understanding of what we face and how to defeat it.”

If we can defeat it… Elrond thought, but he dared not say it aloud.

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Galadin stood rigidly at attention, trying to hide his dismay. Was the acting captain truly asking him and his brother to do this? The screams of the fallen still haunted him and the images of the bloody bodies of the injured were visible to him every time he closed his eyes. He had seen many bloody battles and mangled dead bodies of the fallen, but never had he heard elves scream like that. And then Lord Glorfindel…his fall had been the worst. Now the commanding officer was asking them to leave the relative safety of Imladris to take a message to Lothlorien.

“Galadin?” The acting captain was staring intently at him. “Galadin, did you hear what I just said?”

Galadin shook himself internally. The lives of others may depend on news of this reaching Lothlorien. He needed to get a grip on himself. “Sir, I am …I am sorry. No, Sir, I did not hear you.”

“Pay attention, soldier!”

Galadin snapped to immediately.

“I said that I understand your apprehension, but we have very few options left to us. You and Galador have a close communion with the trees. I feel confident that you will be able to enlist their aide in your travels.”

“Sir, with all due respect,” Galador nervously spoke up from his brother’s side. “Even the trees did not know of the coming of the “dark of night”.”

“That is true,” Angaril agreed. “However, these assaults are coming from the Southern borders and you will be traveling East. Also, the company riding with you will not include any children of Valinor. I do not believe that you will be assailed by this menace. You both have first hand knowledge of an attack and you both were subdued, but not injured by the creatures. Between the documents you will be carrying, which provide details of all of the known attacks and the current condition of the injured, and your own personal experiences, you should be able to answer King Amroth’s questions.”

Angaril paused, his eyes suddenly unfocusing for a few moments. When he regarded the brothers again, he gave them a small smile and said reassuringly, “I am confident in my selection of the two of you for this assignment. And, unless my heart misguides me, I believe I will be seeing the two of you safely in Imladris again. You are dismissed.”

Realizing the discussion was over, if it ever could have been called a discussion, Galadin replied, “Yes, Sir.” Saluting, he and his brother turned and left the office to make ready for their journey.

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Elrond stood on a balcony overlooking the gardens. By the pale vestiges of first light, he could make out the bustle of activity at the stables. He was exhausted after a long night of further healing the many wounded from the day before and preparing the messages. Celebrian had helped Elrond carefully compose the letters to each of the rulers of the distant elven realms. Now he could only hope that his fellow leaders would appreciate the magnitude of the threat which faced Imladris enough to send him aid as well as see to their own safety.

Clutching the railing in front of him, Elrond watched as the messengers rode out with their guards. Whispering a prayer for their safety, he relaxed his desperate grip as he felt arms slide around his waist.

“Come inside and rest now, my love” Celebrian quietly insisted. “You need to recover your strength enough to be able to help the injured.”

Silently, Elrond turned and allowed her to guide him back into the house.

“Now I am worried about you,” Celebrian said, her voice full of concern. “You are obeying without protest.

Be at peace, Elrond. My parents advise King Amroth. Help will come.”

He nodded, but couldn’t help worrying. What could they possibly do to lend aid and would the help come in time?

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Chapter 2
Created
10 Oct 2006
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10 Oct 2006
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