The Ending of the Third Age -year 3021
Home. A smudge was now materializing on the horizon - Arda. The tight band across his chest finally started to ease. The pull he had felt for years was actually true -at long last he was called back. How long had he been away? Centuries? Millennia? In truth he had long stopped thinking about the passage of time; it had become somehow immaterial since that day.
As the ship drew nearer the smudge grew sharper, the outlines of mountains taking shape. He wondered how much longer they would be at sea for surely it had taken them only days to walk the shore road northwards to those near impassible ice flows. He felt he had been at sea for weeks. Surely the Valar had not moved Arda so far from Middle-earth.
He imagined he could see the cliff tops above Swanhaven. Drawing ever nearer to the shores of his birthplace he unlocked those early memories, allowing them to rise to the surface. He once again walked those fields, discovered his particular gift, found friendship and love. Even now he could not regret the heartache he endured, the trials suffered because in the end there was only one thing of any importance. Love.
He turned northwards and gazed towards where he thought Icefang had been. In his mind’s eye once again he answered the call of friendship, loyalty and love.
The Time of the Trees - Valinor
The Time of the Trees - Valinor
I was different from the other youths. Different because though we lived in Tirion, it was so far on the outskirts it might as well not been called ‘living in the city‘. Different because we lived not it a house of white marble and stone, but a home crafted from wood. Different because I was taught to hear the world around me, not shape it; I listened.
My parents were different. How many Noldorin fail at metallurgy, mineralogy, gemology, lapidary or diamond cutting? Whose father was not capable of working at stone-cutting, tile making or simply laying mosaics? No my father was different as well, his only interest the knowledge of the living world. Father knew and loved all living things and found his gift; the gift of speaking to trees, to birds and to beasts.
Father insisted the trees spoke to him, had permitted him to harvest sections of the forest to build our home. He had cut the selected trees (after the smiths had forged the appropriate tools for him) then planed and shaped the timber. We had huge boles for the framework, redwood walls, oak flooring and cedar for the trim and shingles.
My father was one of the few Noldor to farm in Tirion. Because of his knowledge of plants and herbs he grew the best vegetables, his trees produced the largest, sweetest fruits outside of Valmar and his flowers were second only to those which bloomed for the Valar.
Mother, a Teleri, was thankfully popular with the Noldorin females and was requested at every gathering she cared to attend. The Noldor were an ambitious, passionate, impulsive, prideful, competitive people. Over time the Maiar found that the amount of bickering, arguing, sarcastic, snide remarks prevalent at every gathering of females was absent in Mother’s presence. Calmness and peacefulness flowed from her and consequently she was one of the very few Teleri invited to mingle with the noblewomen of the city. Her gift of serenity along with the fruits and vegetables my father shared with those households was the only reason we were tolerated rather than be openly shunned.
At a young age I was left to roam the forests and fields with or without my father. With his teaching, I learned to hear the world around me, till in time I could interpret and reproduce nearly every sound of the wind in the trees or grasses, the calls of the birds, the water washing up against the shore.
Unfortunately the Valar had had enough of the wild undisciplined behaviour of elven youth. In my seventh decade it was decided we were to be rounded up and schooled; the Maiar to be our teachers. That decision forever changed my life.
The first few decades of schooling were barely tolerable. Just like my father I seemed to have no aptitude for any of the seemingly natural talents of the Noldor. My only ability seemed to be the reproduction of nature’s sounds and to the Maiar’s credit, I was eventually introduced to musical instruments. Pipes, then flute, lyre and harp, each of which I was able to master with little or no effort. In due time I even learned to play a new instrument designed by an ingenious Noldorin craftsman, a mandolin. A minstrel it seemed was someone more readily accepted by the Noldor; after all who didn’t want entertainment at gatherings? This then was my gift, one which would lead me to pain and suffering but also to joy, friendship and love.
It was during my last decade of study that I met Him.
Our quarterly sports competitions were under way. I had performed in the sprint races and the archery contests but not the wrestling or swimming heats. In truth I was no fighter and had resisted learning the art of wrestling and I was no longer permitted to enter the swimming heats. I had consistently won every one over the years. Far be it for me to admit to anyone my wins were due to the training I had had from my father in my earlier years. By the time I was in my third decade I was a strong swimmer, distance not withstanding. Did I have an advantage over the others? Of course, but it was the only one I enjoyed.
One day a commotion broke out among some youths standing around during a swimming heat. They were arguing over the ownership of some trivial token found laying on the ground. Though I didn’t know the younglings, I could tell which one was the rightful owner just by listening to the inflections of their voices and watching their body language. I must have made some movement or made a sound because as a hand came down on my shoulder a voice from behind me asked, “ Are you alright?”
Dropping my shoulder allowed me to slip from beneath the stranger’s hand as I stepped back and swung around. An older, tall, dark haired elf stood facing me. “Yes of course I am,” I answered him. “Why do you ask?”
“You flinched,” he replied.
“I did what?”
“You flinched,” he repeated. “I was watching and saw you.”
“Watching? Watching me?” I asked, puzzled. “Why?”
“Aren’t you are Gildor, Gildor Inglorion?” he requested in response.
“Yes, yes I am, and what has that got to do with why you were watching me?” I repeated.
“I had heard that a Gildor Inglorion had been the swimming champion every year and this year wasn’t competing. I wanted to see who you were and saw you flinch. You flinched every time Denethor insisted the trinket was his and I wondered why. So why did you? Flinch I mean.”
This was the first I knew I reacted physically to lies told within my hearing. However it wasn’t something I was going to talk about especially to a stranger.
“Sorry,” I said, ”wasn’t aware I had done so.“ And I wasn’t lying, just being purposely vague. “And who are you? What’s your name?”
He bit his lip then with a jerky nod of his head he said,” Forgive me, I meant no offense. My name is Fingolfin.” With that he turned and walked away.
And so went my first meeting with the King’s son.
During the remainder of that school year I noticed he often visited various Maiar instructors. Whenever he saw me he always acknowledged me, nodded a greeting; the only one who ever did so. The weekly consults increased gradually until they were now daily and always at the same time of day. I started to suspect there was an ulterior motive to these visits. At the same time I started to look for him, to be in the vicinity so he would see me. Finally I worked up my nerve and the next time he nodded, I walked over to speak to him.
“Come here often?“ I smirked asking him with an innocent face.
Face stern he replied, “Checking various smelting processes.”
Flinching, I was taken aback by the abrupt reponse. It was then I saw the twinkle in his eyes.
“Gotta,” he murmured in a satisfying tone. Grabbing my elbow he pulled me along as he walked down the corridor. We stepped through an arch out into the open air and looking around to see if anyone was near he said speaking softly, “You flinched when I lied. Tell me are you a truth sayer?”
“Why do you want to know?” I replied trying to buy time with an evasive answer. Before I revealed my deepest secret I needed to know more, much more.
Glancing around again, Fingolfin pulled me further away from the school walking over to a stand of trees. “Walls have ears,” he muttered.
Still speaking softly he answered, “There have been a number of incidents lately. In the mines safety harnesses have been inexplicably damaged, in the foundries minerals have been mixed using wrong portions during smelting also containers have been discovered mislabeled. Even in the forges, molds have cracked and steel folded and melded many times shatters during hammering. All these mishaps just can’t be charged to coincidences. I don’t accept that.”
“Oh wow.“ I whistled. “We’ve heard nothing about such happenings. And you must know how gossip runs through the school like wildfire. Couldn’t it just be,” I gulped, “incompetence or, or carelessness maybe, or perhaps mistakes by new trainees?” Could I really have just called the renowned Noldor artisans and craftsmen incompetent? Bracing myself for his rebuff I breathed deep and held very still.
Pinching the bridge of his nose he closed his eyes for a moment and sighed. Opening his eyes he stared at me and admitted, “We’ve thought of everything you just mentioned. Unlikely as it seems the possibilities had to be considered. And that‘s not for the general public Gildor.
“I’ve been discussing these, these mishaps with the Maiar here, actually reporting each incident to them,” he confessed.
“And?” I asked. “What have they said?”
Examining my face Fingolfin admitted, “They have no answer for me yet. You do realize I am taking a big risk just discussing this with you. But my instincts say I can trust you Gildor. I’m telling you this hoping you’ll be able to help me.”
Stalling for time I asked, “Help you how?”
“Are you a truth sayer Gildor? I need to know; please it‘s important.”
Taking a deep breath I looked him in the eye and said, very quietly, “How do I know I can trust you? You say the troubles are not for public discussion, well I’m not for public discussion either. Why should I trust you Fingolfin?”
He looked at me and solemnly said, “Because I’ve trusting you with this information, risking my position by telling you. Because you’ll be one of the few who know what has been happening. Because I’ve not spoken with anyone about involving you. Because I believe you know when someone is lying. And because I’ve no intention of letting anyone, anyone not even my sire know about your talent. And I believe you can tell that here and now I am speaking the truth. Tell me if I am wrong.” he challenged.
Stepping back I said, “I need to think on this. Give me a moment please.“ Then I turned away and took a few steps to the dominant in the grove. Resting my forehead against the tree I closed my eyes and whispered, “Is he speaking the entire truth? Can I trust him?”
Fingering the tree bark a piece came loose in my hand. “Ah, so you trust him then.” There was a rustling above me and as I looked up, a seedpod dropped on my head. “Ow,“ I exclaimed.
Going down on one knee I braced a hand against the tree trunk pretending to maintain my balance while I searched the grass for the pod. “Thank you for you gift Eldest and for sharing your wisdom,” I whispered. Through my hand still pressed against the tree came the impression of something looking down from a great height, looking down at a tiny sapling just sprouting from the soil. Once again there was a rustling through the canopy of leaves above my head though there was no wind.
“Not fair Eldest, everyone is younger than you. So glad we amuse you,” I whispered.
Ignoring the astonishment on his face I thoughtfully strolled back to where Fingolfin waited, the seedpod in my hand. Cracking it open it split in two releasing an appetizing aroma. Holding my hand out to Fingolfin I asked, “Would you like to share the nut kernel with me?”
Eyeing me he reached for a half of the pod and sniffing it, placed the kernel in his mouth. I tried to stifle my laughter at the surprised look on his face. Placing my half of the pod in my mouth I savored the taste as the flavours exploded on my tongue.
“What just happened?” he quietly asked. “I could have sworn that tree…that tree,” his voice trailed off as he turned to look back at the grove.
“The tree what?” I asked, curious to know if he heard me. Did he understand what he had just seen?
“Did that tree just, just…. the fruit it just dropped,” he stammered. “There was no wind! How, how……….?”
Not wanting to lie to him I just shrugged. “It was planted by Yavanna,“ I murmured as if that explained all. Continuing I said, “I’ve decided to trust you, but I don’t understand how you think I can help. What do you expect me to do?”
“Then you are a truth sayer? You will help? Oh Gildor, this will make things so much easier. Listen, what I need you to do is walk through the forges, the mines, the foundries, the craft halls.”
“Doing what Fingolfin? Everyone knows Inglorion’s son is a minstrel. What would I be doing in these places? I don’t belong there.” I felt his idea of me visiting such places would automatically rouse suspicion in the guilty parties, if anyone was really responsible for these acts.
“No, no I would be showing you around, trying to get you interested in composing songs about the work. I’m hoping that by talking to everyone you’ll be able to pinpoint the one or ones responsible. So much damage has been done there has to be more than one person involved. I’ve still no idea as to why the sabotage but maybe you’ll be able to discover the reason as well.”
Sabotage. I hadn’t been thinking in that direction at all. I wondered if Fingolfin really believed what he had just said. Looking at him I saw the typical Noldor, assured and ambitious though like me he was of mixed races. His mother a Vanyar while mine was Teleri. Did he feel inferior, inadequate, the need to compensate?
“Alright, when do you wish to start?” I asked. “It would need to be after I finish my day here at the school.”
Now that he had gotten my agreement Fingolfin started toward the school, walking at a brisk pace. “I’ll speak to the instructors, asking for your release each afternoon. The excuse will be your quest for inspiration among the crafts.”
Privately I thought it was the flimsiest excuse ever, one the Maiar would easily see through. But to my surprise it was accepted with no trouble. Even though Fingolfin had spoken the truth to me I had to wonder what he had omitted.
Starting the very next day we began visiting the various workshops. It would take weeks, if not months to talk to every single worker in the various crafts. During the following months while we visited every craft hall, mine, forge, and foundry Fingolfin and I became friends. We spoke of many things, my wish to roam all Arda from end to end, his deep longing to visit mere Cuiviénen, the Water of Awakening.
Finally one afternoon I said to him, “You realize this doesn’t seem to be working. So far I’ve spoken to every worker in the mines and heard not one lie. The same for the foundries we’ve been to. There are how many left to visit? Two, three? Then what? The forges? There aren’t that many. Fingolfin have you thought what you will you do if I can’t find anyone?”
I could see my words troubled him. He didn’t want to accept simple happenstance; that everything which had occurred really was just coincidental.
Giving it deep thought he replied, “No, I still think there is some one or ones behind these incidents. If it had been in just one craft I would have accepted what you first suggested, trainee mistakes. Maybe someone not really comfortable in the work, misplaced in a position. But not in every craft Gildor. The odds of such a thing happening, the timing, no it’s more than a systemic problem. It’s deliberate Gildor, deliberate.”
There was nothing I could say to contradict him and after all, he knew far better then me how Noldor craft halls operated. This was one character flaw in Fingolfin I became aware of; a dogged determination to follow a course of action even in the face of contradictory evidence. Once he made up his mind to act regardless of the cost or justification it was near impossible to convince him to change his direction.
We continued making the visits though more and more I felt it to be totally useless. There was no saboteur.
Eventually the day came when there were no more mines, or craft halls, no more forges or foundries to visit. I had seen them all, spoken to every worker, designer, supervisor. I had found a prideful people, skilled and inventive, fearless in attempting innovations and sincere to a fault. But nowhere a liar.
Fingolfin was unhappy with my report but since it was the same as the Maiar instructors he had to accept it. To lighten his disappointment I decided to voice an observation.
“Fingolfin, though no one lied to me about the mishaps, I did come away with one overall general impression,” I began. We were meeting in my home to ensure privacy. It was not the first time he had accompanied me home though I was yet to visit his.
His head snapped up, eyes intent, eager for news.
“You may not like what I have to say,” I continued, “but I think it important you know this. There is an air of uneasiness in the halls, a sense of distrust. And it’s widespread across all the crafts Fingolfin, not just local to any one specific field. Plus there is an undercurrent of unhappiness, a feeling of being confined, caged even. I’ve no idea what’s behind it or what caused it. No way am I able to even suggest how this may be resolved, or even if there is a resolution but you need to be aware.”
“Hmm, they are not the only ones who feel confined; nearly the entire population here in Tirion share the exact same feelings,” he commented.
It was then I remembered his secret wish to visit our birthplace. My own inclination was to fully explore Arda, not Middle-earth. Biting my lip I thought it best not to respond to his comment.
There was a marked reduction in the number of incidents in the workplace which I privately thought a direct response to my visits. The fact that someone had listened to individual petty grievances, that workers were able to air personal concerns I thought enough to restore the normal working environment of the Noldorin artisan.
On a more personal note, the development of the friendship between Fingolfin and myself was deeply satisfying.
Over the next few centuries I was the minstrel for Fingolfin; entertaining at his hand fasting with Anairë his mate, at each of the celebrations for the birth of his sons and daughter. Our friendship deepened as I became his confidant and at times, his shadow. Periodically I would leave to follow my own dream of roaming Arda. I went north as far as the near impassable Icefang, climbed the mountains of the Pelóri, looked upon the Outer Sea beyond the western shores. I wandered alone by lakes and rivers, walked under the canopy of the first trees planted by Yavanna and tried to fly with the great eagles.
Every time I returned home the mood in the city seemed to have worsened. The uneasiness of the craft halls had returned and slowly seeped into Tirion spreading to nearly every household. On my return this time after stopping at home I went in search of Fingolfin. My father was oblivious to what was taking place in the city, and Mother’s gift of serenity meant nothing unpleasant was ever discussed in her presence.
It was only enroute to the city that I noticed the darkness and the quiet. Something was wrong. As far as I could see there was no one, absolutely no one about. We live in Arda, what could have happened? I thought.
Reaching the outskirts of the city I saw torches in the direction of the King’s court. My stomach muscles tightened in fear as I headed off in that direction. This was serious.
The courtyard was jammed; it seemed the entire citizenry of Tirion was here. I grabbed the arm of the nearest Noldor and asked what was going on.
“The King has been killed,” he said.
Killed not died, he said. Killed. A chill ran down my spine. How, by whom? I wondered. There was an ominous feeling about the crowd. Then I heard his voice, the King’s son, his first born. Fëanor.
“Our king has been murdered, murdered. And do the Valar pursue the murderer? No! They sit cowering in their homes. Do they offer to transport us across the seas so we may pursue the foul sneaky murderer ourselves? No! Rather we are told to return home in penitence. Penitence! And for what and why? Because we had dealings with the Maiar Melkor. Melkor who we now know killed our King, my father. Melkor who stole our most precious gems and jewels, including the Silmarils. No, and no again I say. Instead let us leave here, leave Arda where we have been imprisoned. We shall live free from the dominance of the Valar. We will reclaim the stolen gems, get revenge on this Maiar. Go and gather up your goods. We march! On to Middle-earth!”
He was a gifted orator who stirred one’s emotions. Rousing cheers went up from the crowd; they would follow him to the ends of the world. There was a feverish madness about the crowd which I considered dangerous. I had never thought the word bloodthirsty in association with the Noldor, but tonight it definitely applied.
Pity the poor fool who tried to interfere with this mob, I thought.
And just then Fingolfin addressed them, asking for calm, asking them to stop and think of the repercussions if they took this step. Cutting ties with Arda would sever the Noldor from their brethren and the Valar he reminded them. All to no avail. There was a palpable thirst for vengeance in the air.
Shaking my head I turned away heading to Fingolfin’s home. I would wait for him there while trying to discover exactly what had happened. His family knew me of course; I was a close friend and advisor and I hoped they would discuss the situation calmly. Hopefully they would be of like mind as their father.
With a heavy heart I heard of the events leading to the speeches in the courtyard. The deliberate destruction of the trees of Valinor, Melkor’s attack at the home of the King resulting in his death. The raid and theft of the gems especially the Silmarils. They spoke of the reaction of the Valar as these events unfolded. Listening to tale I began to understand the lust for vengeance, for satisfaction. A death called for a death.
Eventually Fingolfin returned home. He looked exhausted. The day’s events had taken a heavy toll on him. To late I remembered the King was his father too. To our surprise Fëanor accompanied him through the door. With only a nod to us, the two elves sat and proceeded to discuss logistics. Unbelievingly it seemed Fingolfin intended to join his brother and leave Arda. After his pleas to the crowd to think before acting rashly I couldn’t believe my eyes. How could he sit calmly planning to do what he had asked the Noldor not to do?
Eventually Fëanor left and Fingolfin turned to us. “He is now King and we his subjects. I have sworn to follow his lead and I will not be forsworn. There is much to prepare, food, clothing and I assume weapons. We leave in two days. Gildor please walk with me.”
As we walked outdoors I turned to him to express my sorrow at the death of his father, but before I could get the words out he interrupted me. “Gildor, will you join me? Please? I have no right to ask this of you but I need you with me. Anairë will not be a problem as she won’t be leaving Tirion. I have done as demanded by the King, taken a wife and had children. No longer. We have denied ourselves for centuries but not any more. Please say you will join me,” he pleaded.
Searching the beloved face, I slowly nodded. Did I truly want to leave Arda? No, but if he was departing then I would be by his side.
What followed was a nightmare! The King slipping away with his immediate friends and family left behind to others the logistical headache of preparing over twenty thousand Noldor to leave home. It was three days not two before we were ready to set off.
My parents were not happy with my decision but they understood. Loyalty to Fingolfin demanded I not let him travel alone. Mother simply said, “You love him; of course you must follow.”
The less said the better of the travails we suffered. The King once again left us behind on the shores of Swanhaven, stealing Teleri ships to sail to Middle-earth. Many wanted Fingolfin to repudiate Fëanor and return to Tirion. I knew it would never happen; Fingolfin had sworn an oath and would never break it.
Our journey north towards Icefang was just the beginning of a new problem. Luckily I had wandered this far north and could tell Fingolfin what to expect. Much more food had to be gathered and warm clothing would be needed. We would have to stop and hunt, make warm boots for everyone. Years were spent in the north, preparing to cross the ice floes.
No one talks about the crossing, of the grinding ice, but we lost nearly a third of our numbers. Some froze, others fell into deep crevices, or wandered off in the dark starless night and still others became so depressed they stopped eating and walking. But everyone with breath to spare cursed Fëanor. It had taken over a decade from our departure from Tirion to walk into the white north of Middle-earth.
From there we turned south, going down the coast to the Firth of Drengist. Eventually Fingolfin settled the people in Hithlum and there we rested and grew strong again. Oh there were skirmishes and battles with the Maiar Melkor, now renamed Morgoth, but on the whole we lived in peace.
On occasion I roamed the lands around us but Fingolfin, now King of the Noldor in Middle-earth, worried whenever I left. On my first excursion wandering east towards Nevrast I was gone about three months.
Returning to camp late in the evening, I slipped unnoticed into our quarters. Strong arms grabbed and spun me around.
“You’re back! Oh how I’ve missed you,” he whispered, his face just a hairbreadth from mine. I was pressed against his body, caught in a tight bear hug as his mouth closed over mine, hot and hungry, lips seeking tongue and teeth.
I sank into that safe, warm relationship we now enjoyed. It was heaven to be back in his arms, feeling his hot taut body against mine.
“I need you,” his voice dark and husky, his eyes gleamed in the dim light. Fingolfin pressed his hips forward, sliding his body up till his cock pressed against mine, hard and full.
I could smell his arousal as easing from his arms I slipped down to my knees and opened my mouth over his hardness, caressing him through his robe.
Groaning he pulled me to me feet and frog marched me to the bed. We quickly settled down and I proceeded to strip off his robe and shift. It always amazed me that his skin was so soft to sheathe something so hard. I licked him delicately, loving the taste of him. He moaned softly as I proceeded to suck him off. After centuries of waiting for him, I loved my ability to enjoy him, to love him as I had so longed to do, to pleasure him at my leisure. I swallowed him done, firmly claiming him mine.
“You are mine,” I whispered in his ear as I moved up his body. His hands were busy loosening my clothing, easing me out of tunic and leggings. We were lying skin to skin. I reached for the vial of oil and tipped some into his waiting hands. Spreading my legs opened me up to his questing fingers and he proceeded to prepare us both for his entry.
I shifted into position, sitting up straddling his thighs. Taking a deep breath when he slid into me I closed my eyes. I loved the feel of the slow burn, the slick pressure and the warm friction. As Fingolfin’s hands closed on my hips, I proceeded to move riding him till I could no longer think, only feel.
It was his hands which closed around my cock, fingering it, pulling and tugging on it, squeezing and jerking it. The twin assault was enough to tip me over the edge and I released right onto his stomach. Simultaneously Fingolfin jerked his hips off the bed, pushed deeper into me and held still. The hot fluid of his release burst inside me.
Collapsing across his chest I never wanted to move again. “If this is the welcome I get when I return home, I must travel out more often,” I murmured. We were both limp, exhausted and reluctantly I slid onto my side. In my mind’s eye I contemplated the next few millennia lying by my love’s side.
We were to have only four hundred fifty five years together.
The ferocity of Morgoth’s attack on our forces was overpowering. Our warriors became separated, cut off from reinforcements. The losses were severe. For centuries Fingolfin had arrayed his forces to keep Morgoth bottled up in his fortress. When news came of the sudden attack he was devastated. Throughout the day and night the reports trickled in; loss after loss, desperate retreats and defeats.
To my everlasting shame I could not prevent my only love Fingolfin the High King of the Noldor in Middle-earth from mounting his horse and riding out to challenge Morgoth. In his despair he thought a one-on-one confrontation would be sufficient to end the war. He refused to listen to any arguments trying to dissuade him from such a potentially disastrous action. Once again his stubborn, pigheaded nature would not allow him to listen to opposing views.
Before he left he took me aside, kissed me and said, “You’ll see me again, doubt it not.“ And then he rode off.
I don’t know how much of my dreams were true, but dream I did of the fight between Fingolfin and Morgoth. I saw a reluctant Maiar come out to meet my love, blows exchanged, Morgoth wounded but my King tiring. I heard the name Grond. Eventually I saw my love fall but with a last desperate swing of his sword strike Morgoth a crippling blow.
Eventually the eagles brought confirmation of his death. I contemplated traveling to Turgon Fingolfin’s son, or going to Thingol in Doriath. It seeming immaterial where I wandered, for I could sing no song, play no instrument. The pain of his loss was a sharp ache which lingered for decades. I had no hope in his last words to me.
In due time all the kingdoms of the Noldor were overrun. When the last realm Gondolin fell and Turgon the last living son of Fingolfin was killed I traveled with the refuges to the mouth of the River Sirion. The Man Tuor was the leader of our band of survivors. We stayed there for many years, regrouping and healing battle wounds. The numbers grew steadily as other refuges from the war torn realms slowly made their way to us.
It was ironical that we, the survivors of so many battles were set upon by our fellow elves. Elwing, the descendent of Luthien inherited the Silmaril rescued by Beren. The surviving sons of Fëanor attacked us, massacring the innocent and the helpless. They only broke off when the ships of Cirdan appeared in the harbour. This time the few survivors boarded ship and sailed to the Isle of Balar abandoning the mainland of Middle-earth.
For the next millennia I remained with Cirdan in the Grey Havens, no longer interested in creating ballads or roaming the land. In time I heard the name of Glorfindel mentioned, going to war with the last High King. I knew for a fact that Glorfindel had died in the fall of Gondolin battling a balrog. And yet the golden haired Glorfindel had reappeared.
The dull ache which seemed to be with me always started to fade. Finally I understood the last words Fingolfin spoke to me. By the good graces of the Valar, Glorfindel had been permitted to return to Middle-earth. Now I had hope, hope that my love having demonstrated his courage would one day be permitted to return to me.
In time I traveled about the world again, a world greatly altered by the ravages of war and the Valar. I visited Imladris, Lorien and Mirkwood. There were no new songs from me, only those from the past recalling happier times.
Was I lonely? Yes, but I wanted no one to replace my lost love. And now I could not betray him, knowing that one day I would see him again. I ached for the feel of his arms around me, the warmth of his skin, the touch of his hands. I missed our late night pillow talks when we spoke of our day, he of his duties as king and me of the sights and sounds I had encountered during the day. Many times down the years I had woken during the night to the feel of phantom hands caressing my face, stroking my hair.
I would dearly have loved a friend, a confidant to speak with. I had tried to speak to the trees in Middle-earth but they now spoke only to their Shepherds.
Then I began to dream of home; Mother telling me it was okay to come home. It was a recurring dream, nearly nightly. Unsure of the meaning I planned to visit Imladris. Lord Elrond would interpret the dream for me, I hoped.
It was spring in the year 3018 of the Third Age when I once again left the Grey Havens to journey to Rivendell. I was still experiencing the dream but now it was nightly and with more details. In addition to my mother, I saw the shores of Swanhaven. Was I being called home? But what of Fingolfin? I was waiting from him to return to Middle-earth.
I traveled by myself, in no fear of attack from beasts or Orcs. There was no need for me to hide behind the glow of a glamour either; the birds and the trees would alert me to any approaching danger. Since Lord Elrond did not expect me I took the opportunity to roam the land as I had not done for decades.
I had not interacted with Man since the days of Tuor, and I met none now. However wandering through the White Downs the trees mentioned the ‘small folk‘. The news stirred my curiosity and I wandered south to spy them out. To my amazement they were a small folk, children size. The name periannath came to mind; at some point they must have been mentioned in my hearing but I obviously had not been paying attention. Well, curiosity now satisfied I continued on my way, it not being necessary to announce my presence.
Eventually I wandered into Imladris, seeking the wisdom and counsel of Lord Elrond.
Always the gracious host, Lord Elrond granted me an audience the same day. After revealing the details of the dream I also told him of Fingolfin. I repeated Fingolfin’s last words to me and spoke of the reappearance of Glorfindel now residing in Imladris and a member of the White Council. Based on Glorfindel’s presence once again in Middle-earth I explained my belief that Fingolfin would one day reappear.
“What an interesting puzzle you’ve set me Gildor. My thanks. While I think over your dreams why don’t you rest and refresh yourself? I won‘t expect you to perform tonight but hopefully tomorrow at dinner you will honour us with your music. If you will follow Erestor he will lead you to the guest quarters.” Lord Elrond gently yet firmly sent me on my way.
I guested at Imladris for nearly three full months. It was a wonderfully relaxing time renewing contact with old friends and acquaintances. Meanwhile I left Lord Elrond alone well aware he would summon me once he had reached a decision.
It was near the end of August when Lord Elrond called me to his study. “Have you been having the dreams since you arrived here Gildor?” he asked.
Puzzled I looked at him before answering. “Yes,” I confirmed.
“And have then changed?”
“No, nothing new. Still my mother then Swanhaven,” I replied.
“Well Gildor I believe your dream is a true one, calling you home. The presence of Swanhaven means Arda is not closed to you,” he explained.
“But what of Fingolfin? His words to me?” I objected.
“Think Gildor. His words were ‘You’ll see me again, doubt it not.’ He doesn’t say where you’ll meet again. It might be in Arda as well as here. And since you have been called home I would expect Fingolfin to be waiting you in Arda,” he concluded.
I listened, gob smacked. Because Glorfindel reappeared in Middle-earth I had automatically assumed Fingolfin would do the same. Smiling widely, I thanked Lord Elrond profusely.
I was going home; I had been called. Who and what would be waiting for me? Fear wrapped a tight band around my chest, but I would ignore it, hold onto Fingolfin’s promise.
Within two days I was on the road returning to the Grey Havens. This time I was accompanied by a group also intending to return to Arda. It was an uneventful journey until near the end of September we entered the region occupied by the periannath.
Since I was traveling as part of a group we place a glamour about us. As we passed through a forest in the small folk’s home I saw four sitting by the roadside. The others in the party ignored them, but as a minstrel I decided to accepted this unlooked for opportunity to meet them. As it turned out I invited them to walk with us; to provide them with protection against the Dark Lord’s minions which pursued them. They would be safe with us till we parted company.
It would be another three years before I could finally leave for Arda. A ship had to be built and then news came of an all out war being waged. A final alliance was formed between the Elves of Middle-earth, Men and Dwarves against Morgoth’s apprentice Sauron. Cirdan wished to wait for the results on the conflict; this was the last chance for the descendents of those who left Arda to finally obtain closure. The Lord and Lady of Lorien kept us informed of the developments and Lord Elrond was in constant touch with Cirdan.
Even when the news reached us the Sauron had finally been overthrown and his fortress laid low, there was another reason to delay. The Lord Elrond’s only daughter was to wed, marry a Man. Ironically this Man, recently crowned King of Gondor, was himself descendent of the half-elven Elros. Elros, the Lord Elrond’s twin brother. It seemed our actions here in Middle-earth were coming full circle. For the half-elven could trace their lineage back through their parents Elwing and Eärendil, their grandparents Tuor and Idril, their great grandfather Dior, relative of Luthien the first to marry a Man, Beren and who wore the redeemed Silmaril jewel.
Melkor’s actions of so long ago had nearly destroyed a race, but also gave rise to a new one. The joining of Elf and Man had unexpected results, to the betterment of both races.
Finally the day arrived. There would be a number of important personages returning on the ship with me. The Lord and Lady of Lorien, Lord Elrond of Imladris, the White Wizard and to my astonishment two of the periannath. One of which was the same I had met on the roadside years ago.
So here I stand, at the railing gazing at the horizon. The band wrapped around my chest for the past three years grows tighter. Soon, very soon now I should be seeing a something, anything, a smudge even. Arda. I was coming home. I remembered the nut kernel we shared millennia ago when Fingolfin first asked me to help him. Did he know sharing the kernel was the Eldest’s way of approving our joining? Would there be anyone waiting for me at Swanhaven?