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The Dark of Night

Chapter 5: Chapter 5

by ellie

Betas: Chrissie, Nerdanel Istarnie

Summary: An unknown menace stalks the elves of Middle-earth, but what
if anything can be done to defeat it?

Disclaimer: Most of this is Tolkien's. I make no money from this.
Daeradar – grandfather
Daernaneth – grandmother

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Chapter 5
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At dawn the next day, the battalion of Galadhrim and the guard from Imladris set out. Immediately, Haldir noted the disquiet in the warriors of Imladris. Even their mounts seemed a bit agitated, and they had not even made it to the borders of Lothlorien yet. Looking around, he could tell that his own soldiers had noticed this odd behavior as well. In spite of the stories he had heard, Haldir still could not understand how circumstances could be quite so terrible that seasoned veterans of battles in Mordor feared to return to their own homeland.

As the journey wore on, the anxious Imladris guard spent more time looking up than looking at the road. Any sound at night had them half drawing swords, brandishing glittering phials of liquid starlight, and fitting arrows to bowstrings. None of them rested and every one of them jumped at the chance to take watch. After some days of this behavior, Haldir and his soldiers had endured just about all they could tolerate. Still, every evening he counseled his ellyn to patience and forbearance, for obviously there was something terrible out there or Elrond would not have sent for help.

But for the entire journey, there had been peace. There simply was nothing out there, nothing around them. The trees were all at peace with joyful forest song. The forest animals were all at peace. There were absolutely no indications of anything being amiss. But if so much as one more nervous ellon drew a sword or an arrow, or waved a flashy container of the bright water Haldir was going to break the peace with some long private words with Galadin of Imladris.

At camp that night, an irate Haldir finally drew Galadin aside.

“Galadin,” he reprimanded in annoyance. “I realize that you and your guard have had some… unusual experiences, but your warriors are behaving like frightened elflings! Those of us from Lothlorien wish to aid you, but you have to trust us and you have to trust yourselves. This anxiety is totally ridiculous and unbefitting elves, especially seasoned warriors.”

Taking a deep breath, Galadin met Haldir’s gaze with a steely one of his own. “Captain Haldir, we do not expect you to understand our experiences. Once you and your warriors have experienced the “dark of night”, then you will understand, and we can talk of this further. Until then, you can bear with us or ignore us as you see fit. But, I will not ask my soldiers to behave any differently.” Then Galadin saluted, turned his back, and walked away.

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The afternoon a few days later when the group crossed the borders and were well into Imladris, there was nothing out of the ordinary. However, after a few miles of this continual “nothing” even the battalion from Lothlorien became concerned. The entire Imladris guard fitted arrows to strings as they cautiously led the way deeper inside the borders toward the Last Homely House.

Where was the border patrol?

Two hours inside the border, every Lothlorien soldier held a weapon at the ready. Still there was no one in sight. Just after sundown, they reached the Last Homely House.

No one greeted them at the stables. Every visible window and door was shut. One quarter of the soldiers dismounted and slowly made their way to the main house while the rest took up defensive positions.

Haldir now regretted every ill thought he had had toward the Imladris guard on the journey there. Silently, he walked beside Galadin.

“Even the main house is barred now,” Galadin quietly said. Glancing to his left, he added in a relieved voice. “There are lights on in my house and I can sense my wife and daughters across our bond. All is still well with them at least.”

Haldir looked over at the smaller dwellings, noting that only half of them were lit. What had happened here?

Suddenly the door to the main house flew open and a silver-haired warrior hurried out to meet them.

Halting a few paces before them, the ellon saluted. “I am Lieutenant Angaril, currently acting captain of the Imladris Guard.”

Haldir saluted and introduced himself.

“I cannot begin to express how relieved I am that you have finally arrived,” Angaril said. “And Galadin, it is good to see you again. Your whole family is still safe, so you can be at ease about that. Unfortunately that is about all there is to be at ease about now.”

“Sir,” Galadin asked worriedly, “What happened to the border patrol?

Angaril sighed heavily. “Lord Elrond recalled them to help protect our people here. The attacks have grown more frequent and closer to the main house. Two days ago, the creatures attacked one of the Noldorin stable hands who had broken curfew going to check on a new foal. No one goes outside after dark for any reason now.” He paused, looking around at the sky. “Fortunately, the attacks do not begin until closer to midnight, so we have some time to stable your horses and get you inside before it will be unsafe to be out. The creatures also seem to prefer to attack from trees, so this area where we stand now has been deemed safe so far.

I will send you some assistance with your horses, but please hurry with them and come join us inside. We can speak more then.”

Haldir thanked the acting captain, then he and Galadin turned and began ordering their soldiers in the stabling of the horses.

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Once again the council chamber was filled. But this time the nervousness was tempered by anticipation that this menace could finally be defeated. By the afternoon light streaming through the windows, Haldir relayed the message from Celeborn.

“When Lord Eärendil destroyed Ungoliant, he first observed her movements in her spider’s lair. He noted that she fed every few days and that she appeared to be at her weakest in the early hours of night before she fed. According to Lord Celeborn, Eärendil found a wide clearing, free of trees and overhanging branches near her lair. He walked back and forth from her lair to the clearing many times that day to leave a strong trail for her to follow. The he hid himself on the opposite side of the clearing and waited. As soon as she entered the clearing, he fired many arrows at her, aiming for her eyes. Once most of her eyes were blinded, he drew his sword and attacked her. He thrust his sword into her torso five times before she crawled away and died.

Lord Celeborn suggests we find her children’s lair and use a strategy similar to Eärendil’s.”

Elladan listened intently to everything Haldir said. No one had ever before told him or his brother the story of how Eärendil had defeated Ungoliant. Nor had he heard tell of Beren and the spiders in the Mountains of Terror. He felt a great swell of pride at the resourcefulness and courage of these forefathers he had never met. Briefly he wondered if either of them would be proud of their grandsons if they had known Elladan and his twin.

Elrond nodded his agreement with Celeborn’s recommendation, drawing Elladan’s attention back to the conversation at hand. “What Celeborn proposes worked well enough for my sire when he defeated Ungoliant. There are caves south of here which we think may be where her children are hiding. But how will you draw them out?”

Haldir confidently replied. “We have the phials of light which the Lady gave us. One possibility would be for us to pour some of the Silmaril water out where the creatures could find it. Then we would lie in wait and attack them when they come out to drink.”

Elladan had long known the march warden from his many visits to Lothlorien. He also greatly respected his daeradar Celeborn, but he found one potential flaw in the plans.

“Captain Haldir,” he said. “It is true that the creatures drain the light of life from their victims, but they also drain blood. What if they require both in order to be satisfied?”

Elrond replied matter-of-factly, “Ungoliant only required light to sustain her. We have no reason to believe that there would be a need for blood as well.”

“But,” Elrohir commented. “According to what Haldir just said, Daeradar used himself as bait to draw out Ungoliant. The light of the Trees would have been in him, but…What if Ungoliant bred with lesser creatures in order to create these children which trouble us now? What if they do require blood?”

“Absolutely not!” Elrond declared glaring first at Elrohir on his left and then at Elladan on his right. “What you two are suggesting is that living beings be used as bait for this venture. I will not order anyone to endanger his life so.”

“But Adar,” Elladan interjected. “We have administered vials of Daernaneth’s light of the Silmaril to all of the victims here in Imladris, and overnight we have seen marked improvement in all of them. Even Glorfindel who was near death is far stronger already. It would be possible to heal anyone who went along to serve as the bait.”

“No! I will not risk the life of anyone else at the hands of these creatures. We do not yet know if a full recovery is possible or if the effects of the liquid light are only temporary. I stand by what I said. We will use Haldir’s recommendation for luring the creatures.”

Elladan exchanged glances and thoughts with his brother across the table. Their adar was being overly cautious and it could make the difference between the success or failure of the mission. Well, if their adar would not order anyone to go along on this mission as bait, perhaps their finding a volunteer or two would be the better course of action.

Elrohir nodded almost imperceptibly in agreement. And they both knew exactly where to find such volunteers.

“Acting Captain Angaril and Captain Haldir, I want you each to select warriors to accompany you on this quest to locate and destroy Ungoliant’s children. You will leave at dawn two days from now. That should give your warriors time enough to rest after the long journey here.”

When the meeting was adjourned, Elladan and Elrohir immediately went to their suite of rooms to make their plans for the volunteers.

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The morning sun stained the sky red when the combined forces of Lothlorien and Imladris departed from the Last Homely House. The 48 warriors and their captains rode out hooded and cloaked against the chill of the early hours of the day. The nervousness was palpable as they took to the trail, each carrying at least two phials of light, yet no one noticed the two additional warriors who rode at the rear of the guard.

Elladan glanced over at his brother and smiled conspiratorially. Their own daeradar had killed Ungoliant, so did it not make sense that his grandsons should be part of the force which slew her children? Elrohir smiled his agreement, then assumed the slightly bowed nervous stance of the rest of the troops. They would see to it themselves that this assault succeeded.

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Chapter name
Chapter 5
Created
21 Oct 2006
Last Edited
21 Oct 2006
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1932