Disclaimer: Only borrowing Tolkienís characters for my fantasy.
Inside the Darkness
Part 14 - Admissions
When Elrond regained consciousness he released a choked moan. He was still on his feet, although he more hung than stood. His hands were tied to the pole above his head and the pressure put on his feet was almost unbearable. Ugluk had surprised him by crushing his ankles like that. /I grew soft at Imladris. I forgot the ways of the enemy, his cruelty. I was lured into a false sense of safety at Imladris./
His breathing was labored, due to the broken rib he had suffered at Ugluk's hands. Looking down at his body, he was thankful he was still wearing his leggings; they kept some of the cold at bay. /What if Ugluk resorts to even more sadistic tactics? Would he rape me in order to break me?/ He wasn't sure if he would die after being raped; he wasn't a full Elf and the human part in him might keep him from going to the Halls of Mandos, condemning him to live with his shame and humiliation.
/And I cannot take my own life because I do not want to put my children through that ordeal. They already lost their mother./ Elrond closed his eyes, scared to imagine what could happen next. He didn't put it past Ugluk to resort to such vile tactics to get his information.
/Lurtz... Lurtz is here. Maybe he will help./ But he dreaded to put his trust in the Uruk-Hai; what if Lurtz was merely playing a game with him? Nay, he couldn't rely on Lurtz. The Uruk-Hai had left Legolas, who loved him, to be with his pack.
His hands felt numb and cold, and the position he was in put pressure on his ribs, which he couldn't alleviate by standing straight for his ankles were broken. Agony ran up his ankles and met with the pain that descended down his arms. Even in case he survived, this would change him forever.
The cold made him shiver violently and he groaned at the new pain those shivers caused. /I let them capture me... What kind of warrior are I? Gil-galad would never allow himself to be captured. Am I still a warrior? Ai, poor Glorfindel, I should have stayed at Imladris, but I wanted to show you I could stand my ground during an attack. My foolish pride got in the way.../
A small voice in the back of his mind corrected... A voice that sounded awfully like Glorfindel's. /You were trying to protect me and I was distracted because of your kiss.../
The kiss... Elrond smiled at the memory of Glorfindel's surprise. /I wish I could kiss you again.../
"Ah, Elf's awake..." Ugluk stepped in to the tent and watched Elrond closely. "Still not broken..."
Elrond, startled, opened his eyes and looked at Ugluk, still meeting the other's glare. "You may break my body, but not my mind." Just uttering those words cost him his last strength. The constant pain was beginning to wear him down and he wasn't sure how much longer he could hold on to his composure. Ugluk would strip him of his pride and dignity, had already made a start with it.
Ugluk circled his prisoner. "I beat you, broke your ankles and yet you defy me..." He leered at the dark haired Elf and placed his right hand on Elrond's chest. "I now know how to make you talk, but you won't survive my 'method of questioning'. Are you sure you're willing to die for this?" Ugluk leaned in closer and his foul breath made Elrond cough violently. "You're of no use to me dead, but Saruman wants this information badly."
Elrond tensed when Ugluk's hand traveled lower. The Uruk-Hai possessively placed it on his buttocks, squeezing hard. /Nay, do not let him do this!/
"You know what I plan to do," said Ugluk slowly. Leaning in closer, his lips made contact with Elrond's in a mockery of a kiss. Then he opened his mouth and bit down hard, drawing blood.
Elrond's strength deserted him. He now hung from his hands, his feet giving away beneath him. The unexpected pressure on his ribs nearly made him faint, but Ugluk's perverse caress stopped him from losing consciousness. Ugluk twisted a nipple between his fingertips, laughing sadistically. /I must anger him so he will kill me. I won't let him force me... Never! I will die first... Ai, Glorfindel, we wasted so much time.../
Ugluk growled angrily when the Elf's eyes turned vacant. He had pushed too far, forgetting he was dealing with a half-Elf who didn't heal as quickly as full Elves. Annoyed, he marched out in to the open. He was running out of time and Saruman was becoming impatient. He had to force a breakthrough the next time Elrond awoke.
Lurtz waited for Ugluk to disappear from view and then sneaked in to the tent. His breath caught, seeing the damage done to Elrond. "What is it with these Elves? First I find Legolas, then Glorfindel gets injured and now Elrond is in need of help. Why me?" Lurtz sighed and approached Elrond. He flinched, seeing the maimed ankles. "You won't walk out of here, Elf... I'll carry you much like I carried Legolas."
He pushed raven black locks, smeared with dried blood, behind Elrond's ear and wondered how much strength the Lord of Imladris had left. "I must plan this carefully. I'd prefer to simply carry you out of here, but I can't. We need shelter..."
Alert, he watched Elrond's eyes come alive again and he read the agony in them. "You must hold on a little longer."
Elrond moaned softly. "I... will... try..." Cold sweat formed on his brow and violent tremors shook his body. How much strength had he left? Looking at Lurtz, he was surprised at seeing the compassion in the Uruk-Hai's eyes.
"I don't agree with Ugluk," said Lurtz softly. "And I don't agree with their ways. Legolas tried to tell me I had changed, but I didn't want to accept that. I no longer belong with them."
Elrond nodded tiredly, his neck strained and his eyes growing misty because of the constant pain. "I do not know... how much longer... I can withstand... Ugluk."
"I'll help you escape at the first opportunity," promised Lurtz. "I'll take you back to Imladris."
"Thank you," muttered Elrond exhausted.
Lurtz wondered if he would get away with making Elrond more comfortable, but he couldn't lay the half-Elf on to the ground. Ugluk would get suspicious. "I'll be back," he promised, but Elrond no longer heard; he had lost consciousness once more.
Legolas woke due to some unidentifiable unease which coursed through him. The twins had finally dozed off, holding each other close. Feeling Elrond's pain had shaken them and they had turned to each other for comfort.
Looking about, he found the reason for his unease. Glorfindel sat upright. The blanket had slipped and faint red spots of blood showed through the bandage on his head. The blond was whispering something intelligible and looked lost and confused.
Legolas pushed himself to his feet, relieved that his leg was improving as the now familiar pain stayed away. He covered the distance and sat down beside Glorfindel, who didn't seem to notice his presence. Legolas probed the blue eyes and found them swimming with unshed tears. "Glorfindel?" He rested a hand on the Elf's shoulder and squeezed gently. "Elrond does not die easily. We will find him in time."
A shudder coursed through Glorfindel, growing aware of Legolas' presence at last. "Die..."
Legolas regretted his choice of words. "He is alive. The twins can still sense his presence."
The reinforcements had arrived some time ago and they were now strong enough to attempt a rescue. The kidnappers would never know what hit them.
"I am sorry I blurted out that you loved him. I should have been more discrete."
Glorfindel wiped away the tears that finally made it down his face. "I vowed to never tell him..."
"Why? Legolas moved even closer and hesitantly folded an arm around Glorfindel, uncertain if his comfort would be welcomed. He shouldn't have worried for Glorfindel leaned in to him, resting his injured head on his shoulder. "Why would you vow such a thing?"
Glorfindel shook violently against him and Legolas frowned concerned. "Will you tell me?"
Glorfindel sighed and his eyes took on a distant expression. "Mandos is a cold and dreadful place. I prided myself on being the greatest of warriors but during my stay at Mandos I realized how arrogant I truly was. I started to hate myself and... Then came the call."
Legolas vaguely remembered the tale of how Elrond had bound Glorfindel to himself after taking him back to Arda. "Please tell me more."
"Elrond was calling out for Gil-galad, and everyone heard that call and the pain in Elrond's soul. We gathered around Gil-galad, but he refused to return to Arda. He never gave a reason for his behavior. Elrond's call continued and I sensed his pain more deeply than the others because I was in emotional pain as well. My heart went out to this tormented soul and I felt drawn to him."
Legolas interrupted. "Why did Gil-galad not want to return? I know he did not tell you, but you are perceptive and..."
Glorfindel locked eyes with the younger Elf. "As I said before, Mandos is a cold place. After some time your feelings fade. To most it is a blessing; can you imagine feeling eternal grief and pain because you are separated from your loved ones? Only because I was in such emotional turmoil my feelings did not fade as easily as the others' and... when Gil-galad did not answer Elrond's call, I did... I could not turn my back on Elrond's pain."
"That's how you returned? I always thought Elrond... I did not know he was calling for Gil-galad. The tale never spoke of that." Legolas feel deeply for Glorfindel. "What happened next?"
"It hurt..." whispered Glorfindel as memories assailed him. "My rebirth was painful. Elrond pulled me with him and... I heard his cry when he realized he had taken the wrong person with him. I woke up, saw his startled expression and read the anger in his eyes. I tried to explain that I had acted out of sympathy, but was too weak to speak. I do not know how my body traveled back to Arda, but I was naked and weak as a newborn."
"You must have been terrified..." Legolas tried to imagine what Glorfindel had been through, but failed.
"I did not know what to do," confessed Glorfindel in a shaky tone. "I was unable to move or talk much to Elrond and I could see the anger in his eyes at retrieving me instead of Gil-galad. I would not have blamed him had he walked out on me. I would have faded quickly, returning to Mandos once more."
Legolas listened breathlessly and as Glorfindel briefly averted his eyes, Legolas' gaze came to rest on the twins, whose eyes were no longer vacant. Elladan and Elrohir were listening as well. Should he tell Glorfindel? But then he saw Elrohir's swimming eyes and decided the twins had a right to hear this. "Glorfindel?"
Glorfindel composed himself again. He lowered his eyes and stared blankly at his hands which rested in his lap. "He did not walk out on me. I must have appeared helpless to him and he took pity on me. He is a natural healer, drawing from deep within himself. Elrond gave me enough strength to recover. I slept for days while healing and when I woke next I was at Rivendell. Elrond sat in a chair and was watching me. When he felt I had recovered sufficiently he asked me why I had answered his call instead of Gil-galad. I read dread in his eyes and I could not tell him the truth, that Gil-galad had refused to return to Arda. I do not remember exactly what I told Elrond... My memory has holes in it when it comes down to those first days when I was back at Arda. I think I told him his pain had called out to me and that Gil-galad had been forbidden to return. I do not know if he accepted that explanation, but he nodded once and told me I could stay. I vowed to never disappoint or desert him and I dedicated myself to serving Elrond and his family."
Legolas' gaze collided with Elrohir's, seeing the shock and sympathy in those dark orbs. "When did you realize you loved Elrond?"
"It happened slowly, but my feelings became stronger after Celebrian had left. Elrond looked lost... in need of a true friend. Knowing I could never be more than a that, I offered him my friendship and he accepted. I longed to take him in my arms when he cried at night for the loss of his wife, but I kept my distance. The children were grieving as well and I could not possibly reveal my feelings to Elrond. I had Arwen and the twin's feelings to consider."
Elrohir was unable to remain at a distance any longer and crept over to Glorfindel's side. "Ada deserves to be loved as much as you do."
Glorfindel startled, hearing Elrohir's voice from this close and his eyes grew big, finding Elrohir at his side. Elladan moved closer as well and Glorfindel now felt distinctly uncomfortable. "It was a mistake, do you not understand? I should never have returned from Mandos. Your father never called out to me."
Elladan shook his head. "You answered because Ada moved you. What you did was right. Gil-galad was not interested in returning and your heart responded to his. This was no mistake. Your destiny lies with Ada..."
Another tear dripped from Glorfindel's chin. He cocked his head and stared deeply in to Elladan's dark eyes. "I never thought you would accept this."
Elrohir smiled, trying to lessen Glorfindel's apparent unease. "We welcome it, Glorfindel."
A weak smile broke through on Glorfindel's features. "You do?"
"Aye," whispered the twins as one.
Legolas smiled brightly and soothingly rubbed Glorfindel's back. "Now that you have been reassured you should rest. We will leave at dawn and you do not seem fully recovered to me."
Glorfindel nodded sleepily. "I never told anyone... Do not tell Elrond. Knowing that Gil-galad chose not to return will greatly hurt him."
"Go to sleep now," soothed Legolas, gently stroking the long locks. "We will not let Elrond die."
Glorfindel's eyes revealed his pain. "What if Elrond is already dead and arrived at the Halls of Mandos? What if he learns that Gil-galad no longer is the man he used to be and no longer has an interest in him?"
"Do not worry," said Elrohir softly. "Ada is alive; we can still sense his life force." Elrohir gently lowered Glorfindel on to his back and pulled up the blanket. Glorfindel's eyes turned vacant and Elrohir looked at Legolas and his twin. "I spoke the truth. Ada is in great pain, but he is still alive."
Legolas sighed. "We must find him then... and reunite them."
Elladan nodded his head. "They are hurting Ada and they will pay for tormenting him. I will kill them all." Seeing the expression in Legolas' eyes, Elladan realized Legolas' dilemma. "What if Lurtz is with them? Is part of them who hurt Ada? Will you stop me?"
"I do not know," whispered Legolas upset. "I truly do not know..."
Elrond eyed Ugluk suspiciously when his nemesis reappeared. Ugluk carried a knife, whose blade dripped with a black substance. Defiantly, Elrond waited for Ugluk to make the first move. He had saved his strength and hoped it would serve him well during this encounter.
"Saruman created this," said Ugluk, showing the knife to Elrond with a pleased expression in his eyes. "It's made of Uruk-Hai blood, mixed with a drop of Saruman's."
Elrond suddenly realized that Ugluk was talking about the substance on the blade and not the knife itself. The pain clouded his thinking, making it hard to concentrate. Looking past Ugluk, he noticed Lurtz hiding in the shadows and he felt relieved knowing he was not alone with Ugluk. Hopefully Lurtz kept his word and helped him escape when the time was right.
"One cut makes you tell the truth..." Ugluk came to a halt in front of Elrond and caressed a strand of the raven locks. Elrond shuddered and Ugluk growled. "I would have loved to put my hands on you, to get to know you... intimately, but Saruman wants you alive. Maybe we can play later?"
Elrond tried hard to remain motionless when Ugluk's tongue slithered down his throat, licking the blood that dripped from still open wounds, already growing infected. "I still plan on taking you... later, once Saruman no longer has a use for you."
Elrond flinched involuntarily when Ugluk's hand fondled him through the fabric of his leggings, but he didn't get the chance to react to that violation because the knife suddenly slashed his cheek, drawing blood that flowed down his chin and splashed on to his chest.
"It's only a matter of time now," growled Ugluk pleased. "Lurtz, watch him and inform me when he starts to talk." Ugluk ran one sharp nail along the cut, drawing even more blood. "Such a shame of that pretty face..."
Elrond shivered uncontrollably as the poison began to slither in to his veins. He felt relieved when Ugluk left and he finally judged it safe to make eye contact with Lurtz. He had never begged before, but he would do it now, for the safety of his loved ones. The poison would force him to speak the truth, to tell Ugluk about Imladris' defenses and his people would die. He couldn't allow that so he swallowed his pride. "Lurtz, please... help me escape..." After uttering those words the pain finally got too much for him and he lost consciousness once more.
Lurtz drew in a deep breath and sighed as he stared at Elrond. "I will repay my debt to you in full. I will take you back to Imladris."
The first rays of the sun woke Glorfindel, who groaned as his head continued to throb. But his eye sight was fully restored and pain was something he had learned to deal with. Looking at the blue sky, soft clouds and warm sun, he wondered how the day could begin this friendly when Elrond was suffering in misery. Something or someone shifted next to him and he turned his head, wondering who could have gotten this close unnoticed. Surprised, he looked in to Elrohir's warm eyes. The younger twin's right arm was wrapped around his waist, holding him tight. Glorfindel couldn't help but think back to a time when the twins had been toddlers. For some reason they stole into his room occasionally, nestling comfortably in his bed when he was asleep, snuggling up to him. Elrond usually came to fetch them in the morning, and then mumbled an apology to excuse his sons' behavior. But Glorfindel had secretly loved not waking up in his bed alone. He had long realized he would never father any children and he adopted Elrond's, loving them like a father.
"Morning, Glorfindel," said Elrohir pleased, stretching like a cat. "Feeling better today?"
Elladan joined them, sat on his heels and handed his brother and Glorfindel a cup filled with hot tea. "Legolas insisted he scout ahead with a few of our men. I could not stop him..." Elladan cringed, seeing Elrohir's expression. "I tried to stop him, but he is stubborn and... Come on, Elrohir. Legolas is a skilled warrior. He won't walk in to any traps!"
"Did you..." started Elrohir, sitting upright and sipping his tea.
"Tie him to the saddle? Nay, I did not get the chance..." Elladan shrugged. "Sometimes you are so much like Ada, Elrohir. He can get overly protective as well. Wait, let me help you..." Elladan had watched Glorfindel struggle with the blanket and judging from the dazed look in the Elf's eyes, Glorfindel was far from being healed.
Glorfindel nodded once, then sipped the tea as well. "We should leave as soon as possible."
"Our men are getting ready and we will follow Legolas' party in a few minutes. Glorfindel, answer me honestly, can you ride your horse? If not I will leave some men behind to look after you until we return." Elladan exchanged a worried glance with Elrohir who shrugged his shoulders. They both knew they wouldn't stop Glorfindel if he wanted to join them; and the love Glorfindel felt for Elrond made him very eager to fight.
"I can ride," said Glorfindel through gritted teeth. "You are sure Elrond is still alive?" /Ai, do not let him die and visit the Halls of Mandos. I do not want him to find out that Gil-galad never wanted to return to him./
Elrohir nodded once. "You will stay close to us, Glorfindel, and you had better obey for Ada will be cross when he finds out you put yourself in danger." To his amazement and amusement, Glorfindel actually blushed. As he looked at his twin, he sensed that Elladan was thinking exactly the same thing; /Poor Glorfindel is not used to be fussed over. For centuries he took care of Ada and us, and we never wondered if he needed someone to look after him. We took Glorfindel for granted but that will change now!/
Glorfindel never expected the twins to be this accepting of his love for their father. Seldom had he felt this insecure and even frightened, but he had trained the boys well. Elrond could be proud of the twins. "I might need some help mounting my horse though."
"I will help you," offered Elrohir. Looking at his brother, he said, "Go find Legolas before he attacks single-handedly."
Elladan smiled in spite of the nagging pain inside his heart and nodded once. "Do not worry, I will find him."
Elrohir ended up supporting Glorfindel as they made their way to the horses. Asfaloth whined concerned, seeing his master injured and stood motionless when Elrohir helped Glorfindel mount. Elrohir leaned in closer and whispered in to the horse's ear, "Take good care of him." Asfaloth whined again, softer this time and trod carefully when following Elrohir's mare.
Glorfindel noticed, to his utter embarrassment, that Elrohir constantly stayed close. They rode at the head of the forces. Looking over his shoulder, he found that at least fifty archers had joined them. /Aye, we are strong enough to take the Uruk-Hai now. They won't have a chance against us. Elrond, we are on our way. Be proud of your sons, you raised them well./
Elrohir studied Glorfindel closely, relieved to see that no new blood had appeared on the bandage. "Maybe you should stay clear of the battle." Glorfindel glared at Elrohir, who shrugged apologetically. "I cannot help being concerned. You fussed over Elladan and me when we got injured during our mock fights."
Glorfindel remained silent, staring in to the distance. Finally his eyes made out Legolas' party, which was waiting for them at the foot of a hill. Even from this distance he could make out Legolas' excited expression. "They found Elrond..."
Elrohir nodded. "It looks that way."
"Greetings, Elrohir, Glorfindel," said Legolas. Elladan, who had joined Legolas earlier, sat impatiently on his horse, wishing they would hurry, but Legolas ignored the dark haired Elf, realizing he had to inform the others before they could make their move. "We located their camp behind this hill. We counted about twenty Uruk-Hai and ten Orcs. There are two tents and several sentries guarding the camp. We must act quickly. They do not know we located them and we should use the element of surprise to our advantage."
"What do you suggest?" asked Glorfindel. His head still throbbed, but he was determined to take part in this rescue attempt.
"We split up. One party attacks them from behind, the other distracts them with a frontal attack. I suspect they're holding Elrond in one of the tents and we should concentrate on that." Legolas carefully placed his weight on his leg, sitting up in the saddle. "My leg does not bother me any more and I will lead the first party. We will head for the tents while you distract them."
Elladan shook his head. "Nay, you are not going in alone. Either Elrohir or I will accompany you."
Glorfindel bit his lower lip, trying hard not to speak up. /It should be I, going in for Elrond./
Suddenly Elrohir spoke. "Glorfindel, you will cover Legolas' back, Elladan stay close to them. I will take thirty of our men and provide a distraction. Once we retrieved Ada we will make for Imladris."
"Maybe it would be wise to stop along the way," suggested Glorfindel. "Elrond might be injured. We do not know what those foul creatures did to him."
"We passed a deserted cabin a mile back. We can take him there if necessary," decided Elrohir. "Trust me when I say that no Uruk-Hai will remain alive. Ada will be safe from them."
Legolas briefly closed his eyes. /What if you are with them, Lurtz? Did you go back to your old ways? My heart pains to think of you as one of them./
Glorfindel, Elladan and Elrohir noticed the pained look on Legolas' face and the three of them hoped Lurtz wasn't among the pack.
"Let us move in then," said Legolas eventually. "Elrond won't be at their mercy any longer..."
"Aye, let us free him," said Elladan passionately, following Glorfindel and Legolas. He looked over his shoulder at his twin and they nodded simultaneously. Before the moon rose again, their father would be with them.
Lurtz uncovered a small knife and advanced on Elrond, whose eyes fluttered as he regained consciousness.
Elrond released a choked gasp, seeing the knife in Lurtz's hand. The poison had made its way in to his veins and changed his perception, making Lurtz the enemy. "Nay... I won't tell you..."
"Peace, Lord of Imladris. It is I, Lurtz and I am here to help, remember?" Lurtz watched Elrond's pupils dilate and realized the half-Elf was under the influence of Ugluk's poison.
Elrond vaguely recalled someone called Lurtz, a friend of Legolas if he wasn't mistaken. His eyes followed the knife as Lurtz reached for the ropes and cut him loose from the tent pole. He started to fall at once, but Lurtz caught him and lifted him in his arms. Unable to move even his little finger, Elrond lay helpless in the Uruk-Hai's arms. "Legolas... loves you..." he blurted out under influence of the poison.
Lurtz smiled saddened. "I know that now. I am sorry I ever doubted his words." Lurtz cradled Elrond tightly against his chest and tried to ignore the shivers that racked the half-Elf's body. Seeing Elrond's feet hang limply, he took great care not to jostle the half-Elf when he carried him outside. "Be quiet and let me carry you."
The sky spun around Elrond, the sun burned his eyes and the sensations made him nauseous. "Ai, Glorfindel... I need you..."
Lurtz raised an eyebrow, stealing behind the tent and heading for the cover of the trees. So far no one had discovered them. "Glorfindel?" he whispered amused.
"Aye, I love him..." whispered a heavily sedated Elrond.
Lurtz allowed himself to smile warmly. "Maybe you should tell him."
"He may not want me..." Elrond tensed in Lurtz's arms as the pain penetrated the haze of sedatives. "Ai, my feet..."
"Hold on a little longer," said Lurtz concerned. The trees were so close now!
"Ugluk! Lurtz betrayed us! He has taken the prisoner!" One of the guards alarmed the rest and Ugluk appeared in front of the tent, checking if the guard's words were true.
"Lurtz, you're dead!" growled Ugluk. He raised his axe and exclaimed, "No mercy for the traitor, but I need the Elf alive!"
Lurtz cursed, tightened his hold on Elrond, but came to a sudden stop when several riders appeared in front of him. His heart faltered briefly, recognizing their leader, who aimed an arrow at his chest. "Legolas..."
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