Ost-in-Edhil: Eldacar lies fallen. Trapped beneath the body of the dragon Tulukuron it takes all of Beoraborn’s might to shift the flaccid corpse enough for Feredir and Salabon to pull the Elf out. There, his blade, thrust so far into the Worm’s breast that only the hilt can be seen. Here, the Elf himself, his head cracked from the weight; no helm did he bear.
“But wait!” cries Salabon, “There is still life!” He can hear the distant beating of the Elven heart, like fading drums. “Brothers, we may save him still, but I need light! There!” He points to Eldacar’s belt, where strands of light testament that the enchanted amulet is still active.
Feredir carefully fishes it out, but drops it in shock, as he recognizes that it is one of the amulets from the entrance. “No!” cries he. “It is a trick, some foul sorcery! These are evil trinkets!” He throws it down the corridor.
“Heed me!” cries Salabon. “I need that light, no matter what you believe it to be. I cannot save him without it!”
“I will fetch it,” says Beoraborn, but Feredir waves him off.
“No, my friend, if anyone should risk the terrible magics, I will pay that price. This is my quest, and I owe it to you all.” The others can only shrug as Feredir recovers the amulet. He truly believes he is sacrificing himself, and although the other two know that there is no danger, his sacrifice is meaningful.
Feredir finds a crevice in the rock where he fastens the amulet with a few strips of leather.
“I must act in haste, I know not how long that light will work,” says Salabon, as he carefully cleans Eldacar’s head of blood, and cuts away what hair he dares. “Wait! Eldacar holds a life preserving mixture, he showed it to me himself. In his belt pouch!” They unstop the tiny vial and carefully pass the contents across the Elf’s lips. Almost immediately, the tincture takes effect, and it is clear that immediate danger has passed. But Eldacar’s head is still crushed.
Salabon swallows. “Have you any remedies that can mend these bones, Feredir?”
“Not in my herbary, alas. But did I not espy Bonehae moss on the banks where we disembarked”
“Aye, you may know it by ”/wikis/edram" class=“wiki-page-link”> Edram, a silvery grey, soft moss that grows in large patches."
“I do know Edram! But listen, brother, for it to be effective it must be used immediately after being picked. You must find some way of transporting it down here. No go, quick! I know not how long he has.”
Feredir is about to get up, when they all three turn to see Jack Fleetfoot standing on top of the dragon looking down at them. He stares with dread at what has befallen Eldacar. He looks up at the others, and is about to speak.
“There are times and places, Jack,” says Feredir. “On occasion it is perhaps best to say nothing. This is such a time and place.”
Jack sags and stares at his feet as Hunter passes him.
“Now, Jack,” says Salabon, “I have use of you, and of you, Beoraborn. There are forges and furnaces, and any number of metals. Can you fashion for me some sort of harness that will hold Eldacar’s head in place while his bones heal? It has to be a perfect fit.”
“That we can do,” says Beoraborn, and nudges Jack. “You’re good with numbers, wee one, measure him.”
Jack almost evacuates his bowels as he is forced to lean close to Eldacar’s broken form, and measure his cracked head in detail, all the while Salabon is meticulously ministering care. All Jack can see is his own greed staring back at him: This is his doing. Eldacar would not be all but dead if he weren’t so greedy and corrupt. It should have been him that lies here, not Eldacar. He stifles a sob, and feels tears on his nose, but he bends his back to the task.
“Now,” says Salabon. “There is one piece of his skull that is pulverized; it will not heal, not even with elexirs. I have performed this exercise before, replacing a piece of fractured skull with a coin beat into the proper shape. But I do not know if I dare, I know not if it would work on an Elf!”
“They’re sensitive to iron, is what I’ve always heard,” says Beoraborn.
“That is my fear. I know not if it is but myth and old wives’ tales, but I dare not take the risk,” he laments. “If I only had some more potent material, a piece of legendary mithril, for example!”
Both Salabon and Beoraborn look in amazement at two pieces of mithril clanging to the floor before them. They are no less astonished when they look up at Jack Fleetfoot with an anguished grimace. “Use them well,” says he.
“Beoraborn, can you work these? They are not ordinary metal.”
The Beijibar grins. “With these works? These works were built to work mithril.”
They then return to the prison chamber. Gently Jack picks up the mask the ancient Elf was trapped in. It will be perfect. Hours, they toil, Beoraborn the smith working the metal, Jack jury-rigging, fine-tuning, perfecting, to create a brace that will hold Eldacar’s head.
In the mean time, Hunter has returned with a large, ornate urn filled with sweet-smelling, silvery moss. Salabon uses some fine crafting tools Beoraborn has found to trepan Eldacar’s skull. Removing the splintered and destroyed pieces of skull, he subsequently places the sliver-thin pieces of Mithril over the exposed parts. Feredir, who is made to hold the Elf’s head, is green and struggling, but he holds fast. Then Salabon gently lays the folds of skin back over the wounds, and stitches his finest needlework ever, closing the Elven head. “Now,” says he, “the pieces of skull lie precariously in place, but they must mend ere he will be dead within long. This is why we need the brace, to hold the pieces in place. No mortal would be up to the task, especially if we did not have these wonderful healing mosses! A few fragments of this gently coerced between his lips, and his bones will begin to mend, and only two hours will it take to rescue him from Death’s door. But beware! He will not be well for mayhaps months, and I will not guarantee that he will ever be himself, bruised and bashed about his brains having been. We must take care that his ribs are also in alignment, ere they, too will suffer and knit falsely, for this outstanding moss will remedy all his broken bones.” They follow Salabon’s instructions to the letter, and over the next few hours it is as if they can see the skull and ribs start to reset themselves: indeed, Eldacar’s very pallor shifts into something more recognizable, but still he does not stir. But one thing is clear: Their companion is saved – for now.