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Death is just around the corner, you know?

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Talion ducks beneath the sweep of the orc’s sword, pushing up with his feet to slam the pommel of his own into the beast’s ugly face. It gives a grumbling roar at the hit he’d managed, tossing it’s weapon aside in anger and going for the lithe elf with it’s bare hands.

That was the thing about fighting orcs. They were dumb animals, had no sword technique, and even less of a brain for planning and execution. 

The only real danger with them is if they managed to outnumber you. Therein lay their only strength. All muscle, no smarts.

Talion glances to his left as he slides his blade from the fell creature’s gut, frowning when he sees the small human whose aid he’d run to being nearly overwhelmed. He kicks the orc’s body away and sprints toward the group, reaching forward to tear a larger orc off the growing pile and slashing the edge of his steel across the thing’s throat. He reaches for another one and does the same to it, managing to kill three of the things in a similar fashion before the rest realized what was happening. They then turned to Talion in unison, beady eyes glaring and disgusting teeth bared in snarls, lunging for him together.

It doesn’t do them any good. There are only two left, at this point, and if there’s any good that being an elf brings oneself, it’s a strength and power than belies their light, small bodies. Talion’s sword does good work in ending their pathetic existences swiftly.

He draws the length of steel free of the final orc’s corpse, flicking it outward and up to give it a considering look. There’s still residue of the dark, plagued blood besmirching it’s shine, but Talion would rather eat broken glass than use what little clothing the orc’s had on them to clean the blade. Not that it’d do much, in fact the crude leather would just make it dirtier.

A choked off groan reaches his ears, from behind him, and Talion spins around, cursing his own name at having forgotten the human, who is still collapsed on the ground where the orcs had finally managed to bring him down. Talion rushes to the smaller male’s side, crouching down and laying a gentle but firm hand on his chest when the Man attempts to sit up.

Dazed eyes that are a shocking shade of chartreuse peer up at him from beneath the hood, and Talion purses his lips.

“It would do you well to stay down,” he says, “until we are certain of your injuries.”

A wheezing breath escapes the boy’s - Talion estimates that he can’t be older than sixteen - half-open mouth, and the elf catches sight of a splash of red at the corner of his lips. He frowns.

“Can you speak?”

Another breath nearly whistles, and the boy opens his mouth a touch wider, before closing it and giving his head a light shake. The movement causes him to whimper once more, and his eyes shut tightly in pain.

Talion sits back on his heels, examining the young man before him. From the looks of it, he probably has a broken rib or two, which may have caused some internal injury that Talion, with his minimal knowledge of healing, could not treat. He reaches out to touch the left leg, and then the right, tilting his head at the strained gasp the latter gets him. He pulls the cloth of the trousers up and narrows his eyes at the mottled purple swelling. Twisted, then, perhaps even broken. In any case, Talion can’t let the boy walk on it. 

Passing a hand over the young man’s torso reveals a light gash, which Talion quickly applies pressure to, taking stock of what he’ll need to improvise a makeshift bandage. His cloak will have to do.

The boy falls unconscious in the time it takes Talion to rip his cloak into wrappings, which the elf is grateful for. He’d been awake while having broken ribs bound before, and he wouldn’t wish it on anyone. He wraps the strips of linen carefully, but not too tightly, around the gash and the ribs, and then moves away for a short moment to search out two sticks flat and sturdy enough to act as an adequate splint for the boy’s ankle.

After all is said and done, Talion hauls the boy into his arms and cradles his smaller body carefully to his chest, making his way back home to give his report to Lord Elrond and deliver their new guest to the Halls of Healing before any other injuries could befall the young man.

 



Talion perches on the bed across from the one Lord Elrond lays his rescuee onto, watching the elder elf tend to the injuries. He holds a bowl of boiled water in his hands, waiting for it to cool a bit so that it can be used to clean out the stab wound and prepare it for redressing.

“You say you found him at the edge of the east woods?” 

The elf scout bobs his head in affirmation. “Surrounded by a band of orcs. He was holding out well for one so young, too. Three were already felled by the time I got there, and he managed two more before they could topple him.”

“How many were there altogether?”

“About eleven,” Talion murmurs.

A frown crosses Elrond’s angular face, and the lord of the House straightens up to peer at him. “That many?” he asks, and sounds ill at ease.

Talion understands his sentiment. It’s been a while since they’ve seen much more than the typical pocket of four to six orcs together in one place. To know there were as many as eleven so close to their home was enough of a cause to worry. Not to mention — Tallion eyes the still form on the bed behind his lord — that they’d been at large long enough to cause legitimate issues.

Elrond stares at the door in thought for a moment, before turning back to his patient. He motions toward Talion, who stands and carefully maneuvers the bowl onto the bedside table and drops a clean cloth into its waters. He swishes it around with a finger a few times, before fishing it back out and wringing it lightly and depositing it into Elrond’s waiting hand.

They are quiet for a while after, as the healer cleans the bloodied gash in the young Man’s side with a gentle touch. The blood had clotted and dried the wound closed during Talion’s trip back to Rivendell, but in it’s cleaning it had begun to sluggishly bleed anew. Talion preps a needle with the special silk thread used for suturing, that’d he’d located in one of the drawers in a supply closet while the lord had been initially checking over his new patient’s injuries. Once the thread is secured through the eye, he hands it over to Elrond and sits back to watch, as well as be at the ready should Elrond find need of an extra pair of hands.

Elrond gives him a fond smile, and Talion rubs the back of his head with a sheepish grin. The lord turns back and gets to work on sewing the gash shut.

They work silently, Talion eventually standing to hold the wound closed so Elrond can work in a neater — and less painful for their patient — stitch. Halfway through, the boy squirms under their hands and whimpers, but this trails off after Talion drips some poppy’s milk into his mouth and massages his throat to make it go down. The last stitch goes in soon after. 

Lord Elrond calls to the guard outside for an additional healer to help with the surgery that will need to be done on the boy’s ribs and internal bleeding. Talion busies himself with cleaning up, and Elrond fixes a proper splint to the boy’s broken ankle and a smaller one to a sprained left wrist that Talion had missed the day before.

He ducks his head in embarrassment even though Elrond doesn’t even look his way at the discovery. He should have checked closer for any more injuries before hauling the boy up.

Talion’s just wiping down the bedside table after throwing out the bowl of now bloodied water, when a sharp gasp from Elrond causes him to tense and fall into a ready stance on instinct, one hand reaching for the sword that wasn’t there. He cuts his gaze to his lord, but Elrond is standing over the boy that Talion rescued, still as a statue, hand smoothing back the boy’s inky black hair. He’s staring at the boy’s face.

“Talion,” Elrond breathes. He doesn’t sound alarmed, only shocked, so Talion relaxes himself.

“My lord?”

“This boy,” the lord of Rivendell says in wonder. “This boy is an elf.”

 



Talion’s still sitting on the other bed when their guest finally comes to. 

Elrond had left two hours before, once the surgery was complete, other duties to attend to now that his patient was all patched up and healing correctly. The second healer that had been called in to assist with patching up whatever internal bleeding the young elf’s broken ribs had suffered him had made quick work of the clean up, leaving nothing for Talion to distract himself with. 

The scout had left momentarily to grab a quick lunch and wash away the grime of traveling from the rest of his body - Elrond would have strangled him if he’d tried helping with a patient before cleaning his hands - and after, dressing in a fresh change of clothes. Then, he’d found himself back in the hall, waiting for the young elf to awaken. 

He at least wanted a name for his newest stray. Then, maybe they could talk, and clear up if the kid knew anything about the orcs they’d fought. And also, perhaps, get some answers. Talion’s never even seen one of his kind this young before, aside from himself, and the lord’s daughter. He wonders where the kid came from, and why nobody seemed to know him.

He’s finishing off a corner of cheese when the boy’s breathing goes from slightly strained but restful to choked. Talion sets aside his plate and wipes his hands on his trousers, pushing off the bed to step to the boy’s side.

Those green eyes flutter open, staring sightlessly at the ceiling’s graceful arch, before focusing after a moment and taking notice of Talion’s hovering.

“Afternoon,” Talion greets amiably. “How are you feeling?”

The younger elf blinks drowsily, eyes wandering across the room, to the window and the door, and back to Talion’s face. He opens his mouth, then coughs, and winches as the action pulls at his stitches. Talion’s lips quirk, and he moved forward to help the boy slowly sit up.

“Where…?”

“You are in Rivendell, last of the Homely Houses,” Talion tells him, fluffing up a pillow and then sliding it carefully behind the boy’s back. “I’m Talion,” he adds. “You are?”

“Na...Namos,” the boy’s eyes cut to him from where’d he’d been staring out the window at the treeline. “You’re the one that saved me.”

He says it like a statement, instead of a question. Talion only grins at him.

“Hungry?”

Namos grins, eyes alight. “Starving.” He affirms. 

Talion ambles back over to the bed he’d claimed as his rest, reaching for his plate and then perching himself cross-legged on the footside of the occupied bed, offering it to Namos. 

“I mean,” the elf scout shrugged sheepishly. “I’ve been picking at it, but I got too much for just myself for a reason. Have at what you want. They’ll probably bring you a meal eventually, anyway, but who knows when.”

“Thanks,” Namos pipes, and goes right for the leg of chicken. 

Talion watches him bite into it with gusto and pops another cube of cheese into his mouth with a smile. They make quick work of what’s left over, together polishing off the entire plate within the next half-hour or so, chatting lightly about nothing substantial. When they’re finished, Talion sets the empty plate on the bedside table, and Namos collapses back against the pillows with a pleased sigh.

“My compliments to the cooks,” the adolescent elf hums, mirth dancing in his eyes. 

Talion ticks a brow. “I’ll be sure to pass it along when I see them,” he replies amusedly.

Namos laughs at him, and then doubles over with a pained moan. His arms wrap around his midsection hesitantly.

Talion stands quickly up on his knees to help the younger man lay back against the pillows. “You never answered my question,” he decides to remind. “How do you feel?”

“Full,” Namos gives him a quick grin, though his smile falters at Talion’s frown. He winces. “And sore, perhaps. Maybe a bit, uh…” He trails off with a thoughtful expression.

“Any sharp pains?” A new voice asks, and Namos jumps a little. Talion’s hand shoots out to steady him, and they both turn to see Elrond entering the room.

“My lord,” Talion nods his head in greeting.

The older elf gives him a fleeting smile, before focusing his attention on a stupefied-looking Namos. “Greetings, little one. I am Elrond, master of this house. I tended to your wounds as I could, but I’d like to have another look to see if there is anything I missed. Is that fine with you?”

“Hello,” Namos says in a voice several levels quieter than what he’d granted Talion, causing the elf scout to frown at him. “Yes, of course.”

“Excellent,” Elrond smiles, and Talion moves back to allow the older elf to take his place beside the patient. The healer carefully takes Namos’ splinted wrist into his hands, turning it ever so slightly under his examination, gaze flickering up to gage Namos’ expression every few moments. “Now, tell me, does this hurt?”

Namos’ face doesn’t reveal much. “Not overly,” he replies, and Talion has to stave off an exasperated sigh.

Another stubborn patient, enough like Elrohir that Talion can see a wry smile flit across his lord’s face.

“See, I need to know how much ,” Elrond informs the boy, dry amusement coating his words, “else I’ll not know whether I need to do anything else for it.”

Namos looks a little put-out, eyeing Elrond from beneath his lashes. His expression is almost petulant as he answers the question honestly this time, and Talion wants to laugh at him.

Elrond checks up on all of Namos’ injuries, having the young elf sit up and allow Talion to help him strip off the loose tunic they had dressed him in after the surgery, so that they can get a better look at the dressings of the stab wound and his ribs. In the end, Elrond finds additional bruising along Namos’ spine that will require a salve, and gains the knowledge that Namos had acquired a concussion.

“We should have allowed you to wake,” Elrond sighs, running a hand over his face tiredly, “instead of putting you to sleep. It is not ideal for you to sleep with such a condition, I do apologise.”

“S’fine,” Namos says, glancing again at the window. 

Talion follows his gaze. The sun is lower now than it was, touching the horizon already. It’s soft orange and yellow glow lights up the trees from behind, painting their silhouettes black.

Elrond is still looking at Namos. “I will send for a meal, if you are hungry?”

Namos shakes his head, pauses, and then lies back down against the pillows. “Not really.”

“Is there anything you’d like?”

Namos makes a soft, thoughtful noise, looking at Elrond from the corner of his eye. “Do you have tea?”

“Of course. What flavor would you prefer?”

“Anything’s fine if you put enough honey in it,” Namos grins for the first time since Elrond entered the room, and somehow the sight of it makes both Talion and his lord lose some of the tension that is strung along their shoulders. 

Elrond laughs.

 



A steaming mug of tea is placed into Namos’ hands promptly, and they give him some time to sip at it before the questions begin. 

There’s a strange light in Namos’ green eyes that makes Talion think the boy knows perfectly well what they’re doing. He watches in silence as the younger elf takes a deep gulp from the tea once it’s cooled off enough, before setting it on the table and giving them both a tilt of his head.

“So?” He asks, curiously and not at all defensive. For some reason, that strikes Talion as a little odd. “What would you like to know?”

With that permission, Elrond doesn’t waste any time. “Where are your parents?”

It is strange. Elf children are guarded closely and jealously during the years of their growing, and while Namos may no longer be an elfling , exactly, he was still a bit young to be out on his own, fighting eleven orcs with no other elven companions - or chaperones - in sight.

“Dead,” Namos replies immediately, with a nonchalant air that, considering the circumstance, is a bit worrying. 

“When did this happen?” Elrond asks with a frown.

Namos shrugs, careful not to pull at his stitching. “Long time ago. When I was still a babe.”

Elrond's face takes on a pale color. Talion slides his shoulders back, brows arching. It was… extremely dangerous, for an elfling to lose both of it’s parents at such a fragile age. Even fatal, at times. Those who did survive it came out… different than other children. Quieter than most, always solemn. Like they already knew all the world had to offer them and could only focus on the darkness of it, and dread the approach of the future. Nothing like how Namos acted at all.

“And so, who raised you?” Elrond asks, confused.

Namos scrunches his face, peering at the lord with an almost befuddled expression. “Who cares? They’re long gone.”

Something in the way the boy says the words makes it sound like a good riddance should have followed them, and it causes Talion and Elrond to exchange a grim glance.

Namos throws out a hand, wiggling his fingers at the bedside table and staring at his tea like that would summon it to his grasp. He blows out a sigh when the cup doesn’t move, and lets his head fall back as he closes his eyes in defeat. Talion rolls his eyes, and leans forward to grab the mug, pressing it into the younger elf’s still reaching hand. Namos’ eyes pop open, and he graces the scout with a beaming smile.

Elrond considers the information as the teenager takes another gulp of tea, and the lord then sits back with a sigh. 

“Is there anything you can tell me about the orcs you and Talion fought, at the eastern border?” He asks, instead of pushing the issue further.

This, it appears, is something Namos is most willing to discuss. He sits up, too fast, before pausing and going more slowly, clenching his teeth and sending a glare at his own torso. It makes both older elves smile.

“They’re multiplying,” he says it like it’s a wonder, backed with a faint hint of confusion, “Haven’t seen more than four at once in a group, especially around these parts. Lately, though… seems that, closer I got to elven settlement, the bigger their numbers.”

“That is… a cause for concern,” Talion murmurs, looking at his lord. Elrond’s face is set in a frown, eyes dark as he considers what sort of omens this information brings.

“This does not bode well at all, no,” Elrond says rather tightly.

Talion looks over to find Namos staring at the lord with an unreadable expression. The boy’s head tilts to the side, one brow raising. “They are… pointedly weak, compared to others I’ve fought against. As if they are getting slower, or dumber. Or, slower and dumber.”

“A lack of intelligence may lead to them becoming bolder in their own dull-wittedness,” Elrond chides absently, voice a tad admonishing.

Namos only grins.

“Time for that later, though, yes?” The younger man intones. “Can I sleep now?”

Elrond shakes his head exasperatedly at the boy, but he reaches a hand forward to tilt Namos’ head back and peer closely at his pupils. 

“They are still dilated to a worrying degree. I’d rather you stay awake for now, but if you truly are that tired, Talion may stay here to wake you periodically, so that we may avoid the chance of you slipping into unconsciousness.”

Namos’ brow furrows as he considers the lord’s words. He stares down at the linens covering his lap, good hand fiddling uselessly with the splint on his sprained wrist. Talion reaches forward to gently pull his hand away from it. 

“I’d… rather sleep,” he says a bit helplessly, ending in a great big yawn that causes his jaw to audibly pop. The boy winces and reaches up to rub at it.

Elrond huffs a chuckle, glancing over at Talion with question. When the scout nods, the lord rises to his feet, fixing the sweeping sleeves of his robes. “Very well. I shall come in and check on you again after you have had the chance to rest.”

“Okay,” Namo says, huddling into the pillows with a sense of eagerness. He stills for a moment, before glancing at Elrond’s retreating form, and adds a quiet, “... Thank you.”

Talion doesn’t have to look to know his lord is smiling as he closes the door behind him.