And the Horselords Came by Alma Heart

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Written for B2mem 2013.  I'll post the quote for it when I can.  First time I ever wrote Elladan :).

            He misjudged them.  Years later, Elrond would admit it.  Yet, at the first, when he saw the rough-eyed, tallow-maned men who ran from the North, when he heard their barbarous, harsh-tongued songs, grating on his ears like the thunderous rage of their horse’s hooves, Elrond recoiled in disgust.  These were not Elros’ people, and lacked the refinement of Arnor even in its utter disgraces.  He was not involved in the politics of the Gondorian kings, yet he rejoiced when they fought the Northmen.

            “Mark me, they will bring naught but harm to the children of Westernesse.”

            Their horses, even, appalled him with their roguish speech.  The few who came so far as Imladris thundered such an uncouth northern dialect, with profanities even Elrond could not understand, but that struck the noble steeds in his stables to astonishment.  Uncultured, unmanageable creatures.  He did not believe the rumors that some of their stock came from higher origin, even though some said a Rohirric steed could match an elvish.  Match?  Ludicrous presumption!

            Beyond news from his various informants over the years, the Northmen were barely a thought from day to day, their presence merely a disconcerting wrong in the back of his mind.  He was plagued on occasion by itinerant visions, it was true, and in some these blond-haired, roaring-hearted men now figured, jostling in unruly masses of warriors and horses.  Yet, these aside, he had little cause to grumble about the Northmen.

            Until Cirion, Steward of Gondor, granted them realms in the plains of the East.  It should not have bothered him as it did.  He was above the realms and squabbles of Men.  He had made that choice long ago.

            Yet, for the lands of Elros’ children to pass to so rowdy a folk, without any appreciation for what had been sacrificed and lost for the land they claimed with grimy hands, with their ribald songs, hardened his heart against them.

            For years afterwards, the only affect to Imladris arrived in quiet hearsay.  They were too far from the eastern realms of Men for more.  Until, one day, a man of Rohan, quite lost, haggard and weary as any traveler of the world, stumbled into to the hidden valley on his barbarian, beautiful horse, and brought the world of the horse lords (presumptuous name!) rudely onto Elrond’s doorstep.

            Elrond was not so petty to turn a lost traveler from his door.  Particularly not one so bereft of direction and wracked by hunger and fatigue.  For, after all, had those first elf-friends been rejected by their primordial benefactors for their bumbling incivility, he himself would not exist.  Yet though no distaste was evident to the man, surely too churlish to understand, he did not so well perform as to escape notice.

            Elrohir took over the host’s duties as the night grew late, captivating the stranger in the Hall of Fire with tales of the olden days, and fairly traded for them with stories of rolling plains and legends of cruel winter snows.  This allowed Elrond to decorously withdraw and escape the man’s drawling voice.

            Yet Elladan waited for him in his antechamber.  Elrond shed his official robe with relief, wondering at his son’s stillness.  Clearly, a purposeful state of mind brought Elladan here, especially given his attire.  The twins had been on patrol when they’d encountered the man, asleep from exhaustion, safeguarded only by the diligence of his horse.  They had cleaned and changed for the meal, but Elladan still wore his bracers, as he often did when ill at ease.

            Elrond seated himself and clasped his hands in question.

            Elladan leaned against the wall even at the invitation to seat himself.  He looked up at the ceiling, brow creased as if pondering his words.  “You do ill service to him though he has never wronged you.”

            Elrond sighed.  He did not feel the desire to explain.  “I fail to see how I have ill served this man.  Had we not taken him in, he would still be wandering these vales, likely fallen prey to some creature in the night.  Instead he will sleep safe, fed, and in far better company than he could have hoped this afternoon.”

            Elladan folded his arms across his chest.  “You laugh at him.  Condescend to him.  You have been at it all evening.  Do not think he never sees it.  Why do you treat him differently than the last man who came here?”

            They’d had a ranger scant days ago.  Elrond folded his arms slowly.  “Therden is your kin.  A difference is merited in such a disparity, Elladan.  Not all Men in this world are endeared to us the same.  Has the glory of Numenor dimmed in your memory over time?  Remember it, and my behavior is fitting.”

            Elladan set his jaw, though he waited until Elrond finished.  “I have not forgotten my uncle, Adar.”  His dark tone struck hard, for Elrond had not expected mention of Elros.  Elladan looked very much like he had, long ago, as he raised his eyes to his father.  “I know that the world of Men received a gift with his love the likes of which they are unlikely to receive again.”

            The scowl on Elladan’s face was short lived, for he knew how dear Elros’ memory was to his father.  Letting his sharp bearing fall away, he finally sat down by Elrond.  “Do not think me forgetful.  Long ago, you bid me give my love to Men, in memory of my lord uncle.  I loved him, too, Adar.  I have done so.”  To hear that, even in the midst of argument, filled Elrond with pride.  Elladan smiled.  “I sometimes feel I understand his choice.  Many Men have grown precious to me.  Yet those sons of Numenor, though my only kin among their kind, are not yet the only Men in this world.”

            Elrond leaned back, regarding his own recollection of his brother’s island realm.  “This is true.  But you will find none their equal in worth.”

            “Even if it is so, will you have me see a man meriting at least of respect and deny him my sympathies?”

            “If they be worthy, no, never.”  He looked at Elladan sharply.  “But only remember this, and all worth will cease to be of question: these are those who have fought with Numenor’s sons.  They have slain your kin, whom I know you love as dearly as do I.”  Elrond grit his teeth.  “It beggars belief that Gondor’s Steward could so easily forget such sorrow and death.”

            Elladan scowled, and in a flurry of emotion rose to his feet.  “You speak unfairly, Adar!  You profess wisdom, yet some things you so easily forget.”
            Elladan quite rarely spoke so brashly.  Elrond narrowed his eyes.  “If you feel so entitled, recall for me.”

             “You forget what we learned when Uncle changed.”  Elladan paced a few steps away, gesturing widely.  “Long are our memories, yes, but even they may leave behind ills of the past for aid of the future.  And how much easier must it be for a man, who lives so much less time on this good earth?”  He turned suddenly.  “Did you not embrace in true affection your own uncles’ murderers?”

            Elrond froze.

            Wincing a little, Elladan lowered his voice, but still dared continue.  “Did you not love them, and did they not love you, they who had done you wrong ere you knew wrong from right?  And, thus knowing, did you not still forgive them?”

            Elrond drew himself up with a stony expression.  “You ask questions whose answers you already possess.”

            The tension left Elladan slowly, seeing his father’s hurt and anger.  He lowered his hands.  “Adar, I am sorry.  I should not have worded it so baldly, it was thoughtless.”

            “Speak what you came to, or do not detain me further.  I know them, and their faults, as you never can, ion nin.”

            Elladan flinched a bit at the harsh response, but understood it and instead of retreating came and meekly retook his seat.  “I only ask you think of this.  Men’s lives are short.  So short.”  A brief sorrow passed over his face, yet he quickly recovered.  “This man was born in a land granted to his grandfathers by Gondor.  They have been allies far longer than his life, and all he has ever known is the name of Numenor’s heirs as a blessing.  We remember the enmity, Adar, but they do not!  So why, seeing so worthy a man, who loves my kin as I do myself, why may I not follow Men’s example?  Forget ills of old, done to long dead Men, and embrace him in my heart?  He deserves our regard no less than any man, save those especially dear to us.”
            Elrond paused.  “And you think them worthy Men?”

            Elladan met his eyes.  “I do, Adar.  I do.”

            The next day, he watched the Rohirrim chatting with his sons, them smiling with man’s easy, infectious friendliness, and the wild raucousness of his laughter as he threw back his head in mirth, sandy mane flying like his horse’s.  And Elrond, seeing such goodness of heart in this simple horseman, heard his son’s voice echoing old arguments his brother had made, long ago, for love towards other Men offensive then to Elrond’ heart.  And, all over again, he began to reconsider.

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