Chapter Fifteen: The First Fight

The door banged open, revealing the four figures who stood on the threshold. They were all elves; three had bright red hair, one had ebony locks. All four wore tunics emblazoned with a seven-pointed star, the symbol of the House of Fëanor.

Elrond was ready for them. Concealed behind a wide, carven pillar, he slowly unsheathed his sword. A swift jerk of his head told his troops to brace themselves. He could see the eldest of the four elves – a tall, one-handed redhead – nod silently to his companions as well. He took a step forward. Just one.

It was enough.

“Now!” Elrond shouted, flinging himself out from behind the column. “For Sirion!”

The intruders were caught completely off-guard. No less than a hundred elves poured into the room, armor and weapons gleaming. The one at the head of the host wore a cloak of some shimmering fabric over his breastplate. His blue eyes blazed with anger; as he leapt forward, the other elves followed him.

The invaders whipped their own weapons out, and charged into the fray. Steel clashed on steel as elf fought against elf. No-one heeded the dim shadow lurking at the far corner of the room. Waiting.

* * *

Elrond II huddled together with his brother, both elflings trembling. Not a word passed their lips; each remembered the words of their adar-ed-Eru. ‘Stay put, keep quiet. DonÂ’t open the door, no matter what.’

But that didnÂ’t help to guard them against the horrors outside the door. Screams ripped through the air, coupled with cruel laughter and angered yells. And the smell, the horrible smell of something dark and evil. It was the stench of death.

A sudden thud on the door caused both twins to squeal in fright, their tremors redoubling. The terrible smell was even stronger now.

On a sudden impulse, Elros slid off of the bed and crawled beneath it. His twin followed him, both gazing fearfully out through the slight gap between the edge of the coverlet and the floor. All they could see was the bottom of the locked bedroom door.

“What’s happening?” Elrond II whispered in his brother’s ear.

“I don’t know,” Elros replied in a hushed voice. “But it’s not good.”

The two young brothers shrank back, wide blue eyes glinting in the darkness underneath the bed. Their hearts beat rapidly in fear, but each drew some comfort from the presence of the other.

They slowly wrapped their arms about each otherÂ’s shoulders, hoping to banish their fear through togetherness. It worked, if only a little. The battle still raged on outside the door.

* * *

Maedhros, son of Fëanor scanned the chamber as he swung his sword at the mass of elves who were backing him slowly against a wall. He lifted his right arm and pushed a lock of red hair out of his face, using the end of the stump where his right hand had once been. His left hand gripped the hilt of his sword, the blade of which glistened crimson.

Where was Elwing? Maedhros knew that the lady of this haven held one of his fatherÂ’s jewels, the Silmarils. But staring around the battle-torn room, he could see no sign of her. The coward! She must be hiding.

The elf fought madly against the pressing tide of bodies. He had seen his brothers vanish in the thick of the mêlée, and had heard the dying screams of two. His youngest brothers, the twins Amrod and Amras. Maedhros had already avenged their deaths tenfold, but still there seemed no end to the forces of Sirion.

And that elf. The one who had appeared at the head of the armyÂ… he was the only one who seemed unfazed by the skirmish. There wasnÂ’t a single cut anywhere on him. How was that possible? Either he was an incredible warrior, or just plain lucky.

Maedhros focused all of his sight on that strange elf. Perhaps he could convince the elf to join his forces. He could use a fighter like that, one who was invincible. Or so it seemed.

The plan boiled in his head. It was brilliant.

Maedhros swiftly cut a swathe through the room, advancing steadily toward the elf in the shimmering cloak. A dim shadow followed in his wake, pausing here and there to gather up the fallen.

* * *

Elrond saw the son of Fëanor struggling toward him, and frowned in suspicion. Whatever Maedhros’ sudden intentions were, they couldn’t be for good.

The half-elf parried a blow from a raven-haired elf bearing the Fëanorian emblem, and ducked away. Glancing over his shoulder, he saw the red-haired elf bearing down on him. If it was a fight he wanted, then a fight he would get.

Elrond turned to face his foe, but Maedhros let his sword fall to his side. Elrond tensed, refusing to let his guard down. His blue eyes searched the elfÂ’s stern face.

“Easy, friend,” said the redhead, an oily smile rising to his lips. “I just want to talk.”

Elrond let his sword hand drop, but didn’t release the weapon. “Then be quick about it. I have better things to do than bandy crooked words with murderers!”

“Harsh words,” Maedhros said coolly. “But as you say, I will be swift. I was wondering whether you might consider joining my side of the battle. I could use someone like you. Someone who knows how to fight and escape unscathed. A real warrior.”

“The true value of a warrior is not measured by physical strength,” Elrond replied icily. “The heart is more important than the body. And all I see in your heart is blackness.”

Maedhros winced, as though the half-elf’s words had wounded him. “You have quite the tongue in your head, my good elf.”

“I am not ‘your good elf’,” Elrond snarled. “I give the orders around here.”

A light sparked in MaedhrosÂ’ deep grey eyes, which widened slightly. Now he knew why the elfÂ’s face was so familiarÂ…

“But of course, Lord Eärendil,” he smiled silkily, stepping back and bowing slightly. “I did not recognize you at first. Tell me… where is your wife? I believe she has something I want.”

Elrond drew a breath. Maedhros thought he was his father!

“Elwing is gone,” he said after a split-second’s hesitation. “I don’t know where she went. In any case, what you seek is lost.”

“You lie,” Maedhros hissed.

“I do not.” Elrond’s face remained impassive.

“We’ll see about that,” Maedhros whispered cruelly. “Let’s see if you’ll co-operate once your heart is hanging out!”

* * *

Still lying beneath the bed, Elrond II and his brother held their breath, their small bodies tensing as an indistinct form swirled into view just beyond them. The figure was wearing an ankle-length, smoke-grey robe. He knelt slowly, peering under the bed.

The terrified twins moved further into the darkness, but the person smiled calmly at them, his blue eyes glimmering in his fair face. It was Lórien.

“Be not afraid, young ones,” he whispered gently. “I am a friend.”

The brothers shared a curious glance. Elrond II inched forward, replying, “Who are you?”

“My name is unimportant at this time,” the Vala told him. “I have come to guard you.”

“Where is our godfather?” asked Elros in a quavery voice.

Lórien hesitated for a moment. “He cannot come to you now, but he will be here soon. I promise you this.”

The elfling nodded, but he still had another query. “What’s going on outside?”

“Never mind,” the Dream-lord replied softly. “You two have been very brave. I want you to continue obeying your godfather’s orders. Can you?”

The twins nodded, withdrawing once again into the shadows. Lórien sighed silently as he straightened up.

*Fight hard, Elrond,* he whispered mutely. *Get out while there is still time.*

* * *

Elrond I battled with every ounce of his will. He thanked Mandos endlessly for his cloak, which meant he was completely unharmed. The same couldnÂ’t be said for Maedhros, who was bleeding in over a dozen places.

The red-haired elf spat blood as he raised his sword yet again. “Not finished yet, eh? You certainly are resilient.”

“Oh, yes,” said Elrond dryly. “I just keep bouncing back, don’t I?”

“Indeed,” muttered Maedhros. “You do indeed.”

They fought on; Elrond steadily forced Maedhros back. Some of the surviving elves of Sirion came forth to join the fray, but all were dissuaded. This was to be between Elrond and Maedhros alone.

The two elves circled, swaying like snakes; their blades flicked back and forth, glittering silver and scarlet. Steel and blood.

Maedhros swung his sword in an arc toward ElrondÂ’s throat. The raven-haired elf ducked the blow, although it would have made no difference if he hadnÂ’t moved. A swift swipe from ElrondÂ’s blade sent MaedhrosÂ’ weapon flying; it buried itself point-first in a crack in the wall. Elrond seized the moment to flee.

But he didnÂ’t see the two elves who followed, in a flash of flame and shadow.

Elrond sprinted down the corridor toward the twinÂ’s bedroom, gasping for breath as pain seared from a stitch in his side. His negligence to look back proved ill for him, as a strong hand grasped a fistful of his cloak and dragged him backward.

The breath was forced from Elrond’s lungs as his back struck the flagstones of the floor; he stared up into a pair of cruel grey eyes, in a pale face framed by dark hair. Maglor, son of Fëanor.

The brooch that held his cloak was pressing into his neck; Elrond reached up to loosen it and felt the clasp unfasten completely. The cloak fell away in his foeÂ’s hand. Ignoring it, the half-elf scrabbled to his feet and ran on.

Gasping breaths told him his pursuers were hard on his heels. The half-elf skidded to a halt outside the bedroom door, frantically rattling the latch. It was no good; Elrond would have to face his enemies in all of his vulnerability.

The sons of Fëanor grinned in breathless triumph as they cornered their helpless victim. Elrond stared urgently around him for some means of escape, finding none. He gripped his sword tightly, refusing to go down without a fight.

The brothers acted swiftly. Maglor, being the less injured of the two, leapt forward and grabbed the half-elf by the throat, pinning him firmly to the wall. Elrond struggled madly to breathe beneath his captorÂ’s hand. Maglor grinned wickedly, his nose less than an inch from ElrondÂ’s.

“Not so invincible now, are you, Eärendil?” he sneered. “We’ll find your wife. We’ll get what we want. And there’s nothing you can do to stop us.”

“Isn’t there?” Elrond panted.

The other elf had no time to react before ElrondÂ’s knee came up swiftly between his legs. Maglor doubled over in agony, releasing his prisoner at the same time. Elrond slumped to the floor, gasping.

He clambered to his feet, stepping over MaglorÂ’s folded form toward Maedhros. The two elves faced off again, both worse for the wear. Battered, bleeding and breathless, they had about the same advantage.

The fight was over more quickly than either could have guessed. After not more than two minutes, Elrond was on the floor next to Maglor, fighting to remain conscious. He could do nothing but watch as Maedhros forced open the door to the twinsÂ’ bedchamber and charged inside.

The last thing Elrond heard before he passed out was the sound of two childrenÂ’s terrified screams.