09 July 2013 @ 09:54 pm
The Valinor Trail; chapter 14. In The Blood  
When we left the intrepid travellers Tindómë had just been knocked off her horse by a rock dislodged by the storm. Her last conscious thought before she hit the ground was ‘How embarrassing…’

Now to

Chapter 14, In The Blood.
Rated PG
Word Count 2,520
Beta speakr2customrs
Disclaimer as Chapter One.


Previous chapters are here.




Chapter Fourteen - In the Blood


Haldir concentrated on making sure his horse kept his footing as the flash of lightning was followed quickly by some small rocks and stones falling from one wall of the ravine they were currently exploring. He thought it looked much like the others, to be honest, and held little hope of it providing them with a path onwards and upwards.

It wasn’t until Tindómë’s horse whinnied that he turned back to where she rode a few yards behind. Except that she no longer rode. Her horse stood over her and she lay on the ground amongst some of the fallen stones. She was very still. It was clear that she was not about to stand and shake herself before remounting.

In the seconds it took to dismount and reach her Haldir’s thoughts raced. ‘She cannot be dead! Rumil will never forgive me… Surely this is not the way she is meant to find the entrance to Mandos’ Halls…’

Her cloak had fallen over her face. He pushed it back with one hand whilst his other hand felt her neck for a pulse.

Yes. The pulse was still strong but her face was white and her eyes were closed. He spoke her name, and gently shook her, but there was no response.

Quickly he checked how she was lying; were there any obvious broken limbs, was there any bleeding?

Neither arms nor legs seemed unnaturally twisted, nor did her neck, although one arm seemed to have caught a sharp stone and was bleeding. As he watched she groaned a little and moved one leg; so probably no major long bone fractures, probably not a broken neck… But there was also blood on the inside of her cloak hood. It took little time to reassure himself that it came from a gash on her head, rather than from inside her ears, which would have been a very bad sign.

Her breathing sounded reasonable, but he ran his hands over her chest to feel for badly broken ribs – no obvious hollowing, but more blood, and clearly pain as his touch, although light, elicited another groan. Good. Groaning was good.

Probably best, he thought, to get away from the place where the rocks above were unstable. There was the sound of running water; whether a small stream usually ran down this ravine, or whether it was simply run-off from the storm, he did not care. He picked his brother-wife up and went towards the sound.

The horses followed and, once he had lain his burden down again beside the rivulet, he looked in his pack for his medical kit. Her head would need stitches and, quite probably, her arm as well.

The quickest way to clean any dirt out of her wounds, and decide just how much stitching might be needed, was to hold his brother-wife over the running water, scoop it up in his hand, and simply sluice the wounds clean. The cold water may be enough to rouse her but, if not, as well unconscious if he did have to stitch; it would save the numbing salve in case they needed it later.

Holding her hair in its one thick braid out of the way, as much as possible, he began with the cut to her scalp. Blood dripped from it into the stream, followed by blood stained water as he began the sluicing. And then he saw something happen that everything he had ever observed of nature told Haldir was impossible…

……………………………………….

Tindómë opened her eyes a crack, and realised there was no rain, the sun was shining, and there was a familiar sound which a few seconds thought told her was a waterfall. Her head hurt. Come to think of it so did her arm and, ouch, her chest felt as if it might have been stamped on by a Mûmakil.

She took a few moments to gather her thoughts, and had just remembered that she was travelling across Valinor with Haldir, when she heard his voice.

“Good morning Tindómë, do not move just yet – you hit your head when you fell and will doubtless have a headache.”

Good call. She did as he suggested. His shadow fell across her face and she decided to open her eyes.

“I made some willow-bark tea for you – here, drink,” he said, holding the cup to her mouth.

It was quite tolerable – he had clearly added some of their honey supply to it – and it made her want to smile as, she thought, a couple of weeks ago he would probably have left it bitter and waited to see if she complained.

“You fell from your horse,” he said.

“Did not! I was hit in the chest with a big chunk of rock and was knocked off my horse!”

“Ah, good,” Haldir said, almost smugly, “you remember. You hit your head on the rocks and it was cut, as well as it rendering you unconscious. You have three stitches in it and a further three in a cut on your arm. You bled quite a lot.”

His voice, when he mentioned the blood, sounded… strange.

Tindómë ventured to sit up and look around.

“Elo! Looks as if we hit pay-dirt with this ravine, then,” she said. “It didn’t look all that different from the ones that were dead ends but, hey, this is like Imladris!”

“We are not in the same ravine, exactly,” Haldir said, “and this does indeed bear some similarity to Imladris as it is something of a hidden valley, opening from that ravine.”

“Lucky you found it in the mist and the rain,” she commented, “although I should be used to elven eye-sight by now.”

“I… I think it took more than elven eye-sight to open this valley to us,” Haldir said, sounding rather unlike his usual confident self.

“’Splainy please – uh – can you explain?” Tindómë realised ‘valley Sindarin’ was going to be lost on this brother-in-law.

He looked almost embarrassed – well, as embarrassed as she could imagine him looking – as he told his story.

“… and as the blood fell into the small brook it… it began to flow upstream. The water was still flowing as I would expect but the blood was moving in the opposite direction!

“The mist suddenly dropped down to the point where I could hardly even see the horses, and I wondered about there being enough light to stitch your wounds. Then, as quickly, the sun came out; the mist and the storm had cleared and a mere twenty yards from us there was a cleft in the side of the ravine and beyond it was this valley.”

“Oh boy.” She said it quietly and let Haldir continue.

“That was yesterday,” Haldir went on. “It seems to me that there is now a lot more water running down through the valley and out where we entered. Where there had been little more than a trickle there is now a river. I know it rained heavily but… it feels as if the whole valley is coming to life around us.”

It was pretty clear to Tindómë what had happened. “I think the Valar made use of The Key to unlock this valley for us… Huitho! I hope I’m not going to have to bleed at regular intervals all the way to Halls of Mandos.”

Haldir seemed to straighten up, and look less worried; perhaps he hadn’t expected her to believe him, she thought.

“If your head is feeling better…” It was. “I have found berries, peas, mushrooms, there seem to be fish in the river… I will prepare us a meal, and I would have you tell me more about The Key. I know that this is what the Valar greeted you as, I know something of how ‘The Key’ was used by Radagast when you were kidnapped by the people from the other world – including this Spike you wish to have transported here. But, as we would be advised to spend a little time here until you are more comfortable riding again, I would like you to tell me more.”

And so she did. From what Gandalf had told her about the making of The Key, of the first elleth to be formed from The Key, and her death, through what she knew of the way The Key had been formed into Dawn.

As the sun rose to the top of its arc they stopped to eat, and Tindómë got to her feet to walk beside the river, admire the waterfalls a little further up the valley, and listen to the hum of bees amongst the flowers on some of the bushes. It really was very like Imladris; she could easily picture graceful buildings in the style of Imladris fitting in well.

“Tell me more,” Haldir said, as he walked beside her. And she told him of being pursued by the hell-goddess out for her blood to dissolve the walls between dimensions. She didn’t mention cutting herself to see if she bled, to prove that she was real, or how scared she had been when mad people saw her as a ball of light rather than a person. She had shared those fears and horrors with Rumil and with Legolas. Perhaps even more importantly with Lady Galadriel, and Lord Celeborn, but she saw no need to touch on them now.

They bathed whilst the sun was still high enough to dry their hair and, as she watched dragonflies darting above the river, Tindómë spoke of using her blood to close the door Morgoth was trying to open fully between the void and the dimension where she lived.

As the sun sank lower she told him what she knew of Radagast using Haldirin’s blood to open a portal to bring her back to Middle Earth. “Always,” she finished, “the power of The Key is in the blood.”

“Rumil, and Orophin, had told me some of this, but I had not fully realised just what they meant,” Haldir admitted, “until I witnessed your blood move upstream through the water… and then found the way into this valley where I was sure there had not been a visible cleft in the rock before.”

“I’m guessing,” Tindómë said slowly, “that even though we seem all alone, either the Valar, or one or two of the Maiar, are keeping an eye on us – because opening a portal requires complex magic. The Key, on its own, can only close one. And this feels as if it is something like opening a portal, even if it isn’t quite the same thing.”

“A good thing, then,” said Haldir with the hint of a smile, “that we have done nothing we should not have, on this journey!”

“Anyway,” he said, changing the subject, “do you think we should offer this valley to Master Elrond, when we begin to move across the Pelóri, or should we keep it for Her Ladyship… or even Legolas?”

Tindómë noted that he did not say ‘if we move across the Pelóri,’ but ‘when’, however she made no comment on that. Rather, she said, “Even Legolas?”

“My thoughts turn ever to Her Ladyship,” Haldir answered.

“Actually,” she said, “I think Master Elrond and Celebrían probably would love it. But the twins would love it even more… They really must sail.”

“My Lord is even more missed,” Haldir said.

“Yeah – well, it’s not really a very Lord Celeborn valley, so let’s hope he fancies some of the forest we’ve passed through – or the ones further north.”

“Indeed,” said her husband-brother, getting gracefully to his feet. “Do you think your head is clear enough, now, to take first watch? Or should we rely on the unseen Maiar?”

“My head feels good. And I guess you sat awake with me all last night? You sleep, I’ll watch, and if any of the Maiar show themselves I’ll engage them in conversation and give you a nudge!”

None of them did show up, though.

…………………………………………

They stayed in their valley for another two days. There were honey bees, deer and goats, and fruit bushes and trees showing signs of setting fruit. The soil, Haldir said, was rich and fertile. Both began to refer to their surroundings as New Imladris – Imladris Cîw or, as Tindómë preferred, Imladris Eden.

By the third day Tindómë’s wounds were healed enough to take out her stitches and they decided they would have to move on. Haldir knew, now, the story of how Rumil had sustained the wound Tindómë had mentioned when she had berated him for doubting that his brothers had cared when he had died. He had smiled when she told him of her first real sign of Orophin the Patrol Leader, when he had ‘pulled rank’ on Rumil over the subject of poppy juice, and she had thought perhaps it was a glimpse, too, of Haldir in his brother. And, she had added, now she was pretty sure she was right.

In return she had heard Haldir’s version of some of the other times when Rumil’s knife handle had picked up teeth marks – and some when Orophin’s had done likewise. It was interesting, Tindómë thought, that in coming to know this eldest husband-brother, she had also come to know more of both of his brothers.

They left New Imladris in the early morning sunshine and Tindómë was not in the least surprised to find that the ravine they had originally been riding up now seemed to lead on, upwards, into the mountains – as well as a stream tumbling down it, much more forcefully than either remembered from the original journey a few days before, that joined with the one that flowed from the side valley and on, down, to the forest below. Tindómë still wondered where the rivers ended up…

They followed the stream upwards and, when they could follow it no more, there was a level way between mountains, which the horses could walk in comfort, before another pass took them higher. In this way they travelled for three more days – upwards and, mainly, westwards through the range that seemed to be as high as, and deeper than, the Pelóri.

Up this high the air was chill, despite it now being the season of Laer, although still almost a month from the summer solstice. There was not a lot of grass for the horses but they had eaten well during the three rest days, as had Tindómë and Haldir, and showed no signs of fatigue.

On the fourth day of trekking through the mountains Tindómë noticed a tiny stream that was flowing in their direction of travel. “We must have passed the watershed!” she said. “Surely we must be almost there now as there isn’t meant to be much over these mountains but the Outer sea.”

Still there was no sign of anything suggesting an entrance to the domain of Lord Námo nor, yet, a view of the sea as described by the ellon they had spoken to in Lady Galadriel’s home.

Another day of downward travel and finally there came a glimpse, between the mountains, of what lay beyond.

Trees.

Many, many trees.

Most definitely not sea.

..............................




As always feedback appreciated, and do point out any mistakes - even S2C is not infallible...

ETA - I do need those extra pairs of eyes... someone at TtH has just pointed out that I had managed to mix up east and west at one point! I apologise if you read what I wrote and believed that I had turned them round through 180*!
 
 
Current Mood: tiredtired
 
 
( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
ningloreth: pair_touchningloreth on July 9th, 2013 09:36 pm (UTC)
I think the Valar made use of The Key to unlock this valley for us…

Clever!

I also like the way Haldir has defrosted at last!
curiouswombat: Haldircuriouswombat on July 9th, 2013 10:06 pm (UTC)
Thank you!

And as for Haldir defrosting - he is becoming more at home, in many ways, even though he is travelling through land he has never seen before, with a companion he did not expect to like. But having the right skills for what he is doing is certainly helping him!
hhimringhhimring on July 9th, 2013 10:36 pm (UTC)
I was wondering whether perhaps they had switched worlds without realizing, after that earthquake. But it seems not, since they found New Imladris instead?
curiouswombat: Keycuriouswombat on July 10th, 2013 07:50 am (UTC)
I was wondering whether perhaps they had switched worlds without realizing, after that earthquake.

You know, I hadn't thought of that - so no, it is still the same world - just a bit... variable. (Oh and I had made a mistake, as I sometimes mix up east and west, and my beta was too busy checking my punctuation to notice I'd accidentally turned them around - they are still heading, more or less, west!)
(Anonymous) on July 9th, 2013 11:09 pm (UTC)
Oh good, Tindome is O.K. apart from a head ache and a sore arm, that is. Good job all the March Wardens seem to have had a fairly good course on Medical Emergencies 101!

So Tindoe's Keyneess is at work again. I wonder if New Imlardris is in fact a pocket universe, distances and topography seem to be very fluid in Valinor, as if the Valar are manipulating reality to suit themselves. You mention earlier that one could only find Aule's Forge if he wanted you too, so maybe that is what they are doing here.

Oh, well down the hill and up the next one, the Valar seem to have given them the scenic route!

Huggs,
Lynda
curiouswombat: Haldircuriouswombat on July 10th, 2013 11:50 am (UTC)
Yes I reckon basic first-aid training would have ensured that all the wardens would have a good knowledge of coping with wounds.

distances and topography seem to be very fluid in Valinor, as if the Valar are manipulating reality to suit themselves.

You could very well have a point...
myrhiannmyrhiann on July 10th, 2013 03:06 am (UTC)
As always, just enjoying the story for itself, and looking forward to the next episode. It sounds as though the territory they are traversing is shape shifting.
curiouswombat: Tindómëcuriouswombat on July 10th, 2013 11:51 am (UTC)
It sounds as though the territory they are traversing is shape shifting.

The territory is a bit... changeable!
Syderiasyderia on July 10th, 2013 05:34 am (UTC)
Intriguing.
curiouswombat: Tindome 2curiouswombat on July 10th, 2013 11:52 am (UTC)
Thank you. It's really nice to know that you are still reading.
Marcus L. Rowlandffutures on July 10th, 2013 08:09 am (UTC)
That's a neat trick, but you'd think the Valar could have provided a conveniently sharp thorn rather than a rock fall...
curiouswombat: Keycuriouswombat on July 10th, 2013 11:53 am (UTC)
She may well get the chance to ask one of them about that...
(Anonymous) on July 10th, 2013 02:28 pm (UTC)
Wrong Word?
Hi Curiouswombat,

Think I spotted an error in the second section, 24th paragraph, sentence, thingy down.....what the Valar greeted(created)you as,....

Huggs,
Lynda
curiouswombat: Keycuriouswombat on July 10th, 2013 06:01 pm (UTC)
Re: Wrong Word?
Thank you - actually it is the word I meant in this case - in Chapter seven in The Ring of Doom, one of the Valar says

"Welcome child. Our Key. You have done well to use your power as it was intended, even from another dimension; we are well pleased."

So Haldir may still not be sure about them creating The Key which is now Tindómë - but he did hear her greeted as such.

But thank you so much for pointing out a possible error - it is much appreciated.
( 14 comments — Leave a comment )