Elrond dashed to the side of his son and pressed his hands against Elrohir’s shoulders, pressing him back against the pillows. Elrohir wept, tears running down his frightened face. Elrond gathered the shaking elfling to his chest and rubbed his back.
“Shh, ion nin,” he murmured. “I know the demons inside you pain you but they will soon be gone.”
“There are no demons!” Elrohir screamed. “There is only me! I hate you!”
Elrond sighed and hugged his struggling son. Elrohir fought against him, hissing and spitting with every ounce of strength he possessed. He snarled and wrenched at Elrond’s robes, trying to pull away but he was held tight until his muscle failed him and he lay still and cried.
Elrond settled Elrohir’s flopping body back against the pillows as his son fell asleep in the embrace of grief and tucked the blankets down around him. He sat on the bed with his shoulders slumped and only looked up as he felt an intense gaze coming from the doorway.
One of the more powerful of the healers of Rivendell stepped into the room with his face a tight mask of concern. He was dressed in a green robe, with a shorter, darker cloth over top of the skirt. His brown hair was tied up into a ragged ponytail, and his green eyes, usually full of healing energy were dull.
“I have spoken to Kaiale,” Zai said, with a small bow. “He will be ready to perform the exorcism on the morrow, the rise of the full moon.”
Elrond reached out to tuck a strand of hair behind Elrohir’s ear and nodded.
“Thank you, Zai. I will be most relieved when the demons have left my son’s fragile spirit.”
Zai hesitated, his eyebrows furrowing with sympathy as he looked at the shaken elfling lying asleep in the bed. “I . . . am not sure exorcism is the answer, my lord. Perhaps there are no demons. He may be in this condition because of you.”
Elrond’s shoulders straightened. He rose from the bed and came toward the healer. He met Zai’s gaze with smoldering eyes. “Do you dare suggest I am treating my son badly, without his best interests in mind? For if that is so, I assure you it is the opposite of the tyranny you put to words! If you question me again, lowly healer, you will suffer the consequences of speaking out of turn with your lord! Are we clear?”
“Perfectly, my lord,” Zai said, this time bowing low.
“You are dismissed!” Elrond said, pointing to the door.
Zai retreated and, only in the hall, did he allow his expressions to show in the wideness of his eyes and the frozen mask of his face.
Elrohir blinked and saw his mother sitting beside him. He sat up, untangling the blankets.
“Sleep well?” Celebrian asked, taking his hands in hers.
Elrohir shook his head. “No. I keep thinking about the exorcism.”
“Life will be easier and better for you after the demon is gone,” Celebrian assured him.
“There is no demon,” Elrohir said with tears in his eyes. “There is only me, naneth. Ada has done this to me. I cannot live with him beating me like he does! Make him stop!”
Celebrian’s cool hand touched his cheek. “Elrohir, your father does not beat you. When he punishes you, it is done out of out love for you so that you will grow into a good, strong person.”
“It hurts,” Elrohir cried.
“But the pain fades,” Celebrian said. “You are tired, Elrohir, and the demon inside you clouds your mind. Elrond does not like to have you punish you, Elrohir, for we both love you and your twin deeply, but sometimes it has to be done for your own good. My parents raised me in a similar manner and I do not hate them for it. I love them all the more.”
“You filthy liar!” Elrohir spat. “You do not speak of it or remember the pain for you do not want to hate them. If you were only a child again living through being spanked you would feel the ache I feel now in my heart! I hate your parents! I have stayed with them before, and they are like you and ada! I hate them! I hate you! I hate ada!”
“Oh, Elrohir,” Celebrian said in distress. She leaned forward to press him back against the pillows. “You will feel different with the taint of the demon gone. Sleep now, my little one.”
Elrohir stared wide-eyed at Kaiale, his face pale, his fingers clutching Elladan’s hand. He did not blame Elladan for not joining him though he knew he would not lied. He knew how he felt about the way his parents treated him and he knew there were no demons. It broke his heart Elrond would not believe him or trust him.
Kaiale swept toward the elfling with open arms. “Do not fear, Elrohir, the demons haunting your pure spirit will soon be gone, banished by the purity of the ever-loving valar.”
Elrohir drew his lips back and hissed. He stood out on an open ledge, the rays of moonlight lancing down on the circle of stone on the floor, engraved with runes. Eight bands of metal were embedded in the stone in the center of the circle, with straps of leather threaded through them.
The thought of being tied down terrified Elrohir. As Kaiale reached for him, Elrohir shrieked and clung to his twin but Elrond grabbed him and ripped him away.
“The demons sense their doom,” Kaiale said with satisfaction.
“No!” Elrohir sobbed. “No!”
Between the combined efforts of Kaiale and Elrond, both elves wrestled the panicking Elrohir to the floor and tied the leather straps over his arms and legs to pin him to the ground. Elladan turned away at the sight of his struggling twin and Celebrain stood with her hand over her mouth.
Kaiale thrust out an arm and ordered Elrond, “Stand back! Do not enter the circle while I call upon the powers of the valar.”
Elrond came to stand beside his wife, taking her in an embrace as Celebrian buried her face in his chest. “Oh, Elrond, he looks so hurt and alone.”
“We will have our son back as soon as the demons are gone,” Elrond said. “Be brave, my love.”
Kaiale raised his arms to the sky, the cool breeze brushing his face as he stood over Elrohir. “Merciful valar, demons have taken over the shell of an innocent elfling. The demons have twisted his mind and tortured his soul, turning him against those he loves. This elfling has committed no earthly sin and done his duty only to be captured in the cruel and unjust fist of demons! Banish the evil and return to him his purified soul!”
Elrohir squeezed his eyes shut as the sounds of Kaiale’s voice mashed together into one droning blur. The sound assaulted his ears and penetrated his skull, inflaming his headache. Tears leaked out from under his lashes. He could not believe Elrond had allowed him to be chained down like a victim on a sacrificial alter and screamed at by someone he did not even know! His heart ached.
“Be gone with you, evil demon! We banish you from the earthly tethers of this innocent being!” Kaiale screamed. Elrohir cracked his eyes open to find the elf’s finger pointed down at his chest, his face a twisted visage of anger. He shuddered. Kaiale walked in circles around him, like an animal about to capture it’s pray, screaming like a madman as though the sound of his ugly voice would somehow frighten the demon out of him. Hah. As if. As if there even was a demon.
Kaiale stopped and leaned his hands on his knees, panting as though he found the trials of the ritual exhausting. Elrohir opened his eyes and looked up at the moon, hoping the beautiful orb would calm the stoked fury within him.
“The demon is gone,” Kaiale said, leaning over him. Elrohir recoiled as the elf breathed foul smelling breath onto his face. “See how clear his eyes are.”
Elrohir felt his face contorting into a snarl and quickly looked up at the moon. He felt the straps holding him down slip free and sat up as Celebrian and Elrond rushed forward to grab him into a tight hug. He accepted the embrace in silence but reached for his twin with a smile tinged by sadness and clung to him.
“We cannot thank you enough for what you have done for our son,” Elrond said to Kaiale. “We will be forever grateful.”
Kaiale smiled. “My lord, the services of the valar are yours through me. He will rest, your son, to recover his strength after the damage the demon has done him.”
“And it is rest he will have,” Elrond said. “I thank you again.”
Kaiale stood and watched the royal family depart, fingering the weight and cold smoothness of the coins Elrond had given him. After a while he looked up at the moon.
Thank you all for reading; I love sharing this story with you.