Startling, Gil-galad awoke, not amidst flames and terrible heat, but in the cool darkness of his tent, his lover’s warm flesh pressed close. As his eyes settled upon Elrond’s face, the pounding of his heart eased and the thrum of blood in his ears abated. It had been nothing more than a dream, a prophetic vision. But not his reality now. Not yet.
The fear and pain were gone, but the knowledge that his end was near set the High King’s mind adrift. Memories of his long life flooded through him, the bad pressing insistently even as he would will those recollections never to surface again…
Galthurineth’s fair face swam before him. Not that memory! Any, but that! Her blue eyes were over-bright with unshed tears as she caressed his cheek. “My heart, I would go with you if I could… Do not despair, the Falas is sheltered and safe and my people there are caring folk.” Her voice dropped to a hushed whisper. “Lord Círdan is a great and noble elf. He will foster you and appreciate you as you deserve.” And as you have not known here.
Pulling her beloved son into her arms, the tears would no longer stay at bay. As Gil-galad felt the warm drops on his cheek, his own sorrow erupted and he wept soundlessly, somehow managing to keep the tears from falling. The realization that he was being ripped from the only one that had ever loved him tore at his very soul.
Fingon watched the scene and could no longer keep his anger in check. “Stop your sniveling, Galthurineth! Your constant coddling of the boy is why he is being sent away. He should be well on the path to becoming a warrior, instead he cringes at conflict and could not even lead sheep.”
Galthurineth stepped between Gil-galad and Fingon. “He is still young. Too young to be forced into warfare,” she hissed at her husband, not caring when his icy glare turned to her. Fingon noted her protective stance, but it was of no import any longer. Gil-galad was being removed from her influence and would be made fit to assume his duties. “If you had not undermined my authority at every turn, he would at least be willing. But, now, if anything happens to me, the rule shall pass to Turgon, until Círdan deems him ready, if ever.”
“Why now? He has had only twenty begetting days. Would allowing him a few more years be so bad?” She clutched at Fingon’s arm, ready to plead for her son.
“I worry that the damage is already too great. Of course he leaves now.” The High King continued, choosing to bait his wife, “I wonder if Maedhros would not have been the better choice. There is no doubt that he would be able to craft an able leader out of him.”
The mention of her husband’s lover filled Galthurineth with ire. She knew when marrying that it was not a match for love, but simply to provide heirs. That the king flaunted his lover was the deepest cut, demonstrating how little regard he had for her. “No! Not to him… Please?” She begged. “Gil must be somewhere safe.”
Dismissing her, Fingon grabbed the boy’s hand and pulled him away. “Come, boy. Your escort is leaving.”
An anguished wail filled his ears, but he was not allowed to turn and take a last glimpse of his mother.
“Milord, the boy and his escort have passed through the outer gates. Do you wish to meet them or must I?”
At Galdor’s query, Círdan looked up from the missive he had been reading. He smiled indulgently at his captain when he noted the slight frown he wore. “Galdor, leave it. I will meet the High King’s son, and have no fear, you will not be made to serve as his ‘nurse maid’. You made your objections to that quite clear. He will only be sent to you for weapons training, just as any other youth would be.”
Círdan’s subtle rebuke was not lost on the brown-haired Teler, but he cared not. Galdor felt that fostering Fingon’s son was a mistake and would only bring unwelcome attention to the Falas, especially if the rumors of impending war were to be believed. “As you wish. I will endeavor to treat him as any other.” His frown only deepened at the thought of training a pampered princeling. “If you have no further need of me, I will check that his quarters are ready.”
The shipwright knew how long it took for a mounted party to make its way through the winding roads and hills of Eglarest, so he relaxed for a moment and decided to re-read Galthurineth’s last missive. He smiled fondly at the memory of the dark haired child she had been. Her wild ways from her youth had been transformed into a steely grace and poise. The orphan raised by his household had made him very proud. Then he frowned as he again looked at her letter. How vastly different her description of Gil-galad was from the High King’s. It was almost as though they were writing of two different boys. Círdan felt that the truth was held in both views and in neither. He surmised that the youth would surprise both parents if given the chance. The elf lord hoped to provide him that opportunity, no matter Galdor’s feelings on the matter.
Frowning slightly, he filed her letter alongside Fingon’s and went to meet the escort. As he strode into the open air at the top of wide stone steps, he stopped and gazed westward, delighting in the chatter of the gulls, the tang of salt in the air, and the cacophony of the ship yards. He breathed deeply and closed his eyes for a brief moment. He loved the sea and all that came with living beside it and amidst it. He could imagine no other life than this.
The mounted escort came into view, finally stopping in the small courtyard. Círdan quickly assessed the warriors, his eyes taking in subtle clues as to their state of mind. All of the entourage, save two, were jovial, smiling, and readily dismounted. The two that stayed mounted were Gil-galad and Alfirin, his tutor. It was obvious that the boy could not contain his amazement at the sight of the sea. The other male obviously spent much time frowning, for he had lines embedded between his brows and at the edges of his mouth. His hard grey eyes displayed a singular lack of mirth and compassion. So this is the tutor the poor youth has been saddled with. In this, at least, Galthurineth was right. That one could suck the joy from anyone. Striding down the steps, Círdan extended his arm in greeting. “Welcome to Eglarest. I am your host, Círdan, Lord of the Falas. Please join me, your mounts will be well cared for.” He nodded toward the stable hands that had been waiting to take their steeds. As both horses were freed from their burdens, they were quickly taken away.
Gil-galad continued to look around in awed silence, so Alfirin spoke up, quite haughtily. “I apologize for my charge’s bad manners. I do believe he is simply overtired from the journey and has forgotten the proper protocol. My Lord Gil-galad! Stop daydreaming and come here!” Alfirin barked at the youth. When the boy was near, Alfirin cuffed him on the ears. “Introduce yourself to Lord Círdan who has graciously agreed to take you into his home and mold you into someone fit to be king.” The shipwright did not like Alfirin at all and hoped to be rid of him quickly.
The pain from his ears startled Gil-galad and he finally really looked at his host. Once he did, all protocols and manners were forgotten for towering over him was a regal elf lord with twinkling blue eyes, long silver hair pulled away from his face, but his most disconcerting feature was his beard. Gil had seen men with beards, but never an elf. Confused by the sight, no words would come. When Gil was in a new situation, his first reaction was always to clam up and shrink into himself.
Círdan watched the lad carefully and noted his increasing nervousness as his eyes would not leave the elf lord’s beard. Wanting to reassure, Círdan spoke gently. “It is a real beard, little one. Would you like to touch it?”
At the kind words, Gil was tugged from his shell. He stared into warm blue eyes and nodded slightly as he reached a trembling hand out. When he felt the slightly wavy strands flow through his fingers, he was surprised by their texture, for they were neither coarse nor silky soft, but somewhere in between, almost like cat fur. The bright smile and astonished delight that shone from his wide blue-grey eyes instantly captured Círdan’s heart. “It feels nothing like I expected.” Círdan’s accepting manner and welcoming smile encouraged the boy and he grew bold enough to ask, “Why do you have one? I thought only dwarves and men had beards.”
Alfirin was appalled and embarrassed by Gil’s impertinent queries. His anger obvious as he clenched his hands at his side, Alfirin was about to tear into the boy when Círdan’s icy glare forced him to swallow his words. “Walk with me, my young lord, and I shall endeavor to answer all of your questions while we get you settled into your quarters.”
Gil-galad thought the rugged terrain beautiful, but completely unapproachable. There were twisted trees and craggy hills everywhere he looked. The only open vistas were gained when one mounted a rocky promontory and gazed out to sea. He missed the wide, welcoming vistas and green lands of Dor-Lómin where he could ride and run without fear of falling from a slope or down a rocky outcrop. The constant thrum and roar of the waves crashing against the cliffs were a soothing balm to his lonely heart, but he yet missed the quiet lap of gentle waves against the rushes and reeds by the banks of Lake Mithrim. The chirruping of the crickets and cicadas had always lulled him to his rest, their lack caused him to strain too hard to hear in the long nights, and his reverie was often elusive.
As he stared out to sea from his favorite post, his ever present charcoal and parchment beside him, Gil thought on the passing years. Eglarest was still not home, no matter how patient and kind Lord Círdan was with him. It still felt too foreign and lonely. He had only a scant few friends back home, but he had his mother, her smile and warm embrace made anywhere they were together truly home. He had to admit he had no friends here because he was too uncomfortable to attempt to meet others, so he remained alone.
Círdan watched Gil-galad from his office balcony. The boy had gradually acclimated to life in Eglarest, but had yet to make friends with any of the other youths. His shyness was a barrier to any such relations, luckily the lad did not seem to mind being alone most of the time.
As Gil-galad sat upon the stone ledge and stared out to sea, his charcoal lightly brushing the parchment, Círdan sat down beside him. “How fare you, young one?”
Gil looked up, startled, but smiled brightly when he realized that it was Lord Círdan who had joined him. The elf lord had been ever kind and understanding and gentle with Gil-galad and the boy was much less shy around the elf lord. “I am well, just enjoying a break from my lessons to sketch.”
Looking over Gil’s shoulder, Círdan marveled at his skill. “You have a talent for this. Has anyone been training you?”
Gil blushed and ducked his head. Even though the elf lord was kind, he was unused to compliments and was yet unable to receive them easily. “Nay. Mother taught me before…” He paused, to insure his voice did not crack for thoughts of his mother still pained him. “I have not asked another.”
Círdan stood and offered his hand to Gil-galad. “Well, come then. I shall introduce you to Master Gelirion. He is a talented artist and is always looking for someone to train.” At Gil-galad’s stunned expression, Círdan just smiled. “You did not think that you would be allowed nothing for yourself? Aye, it will be difficult with all you have to learn, but you also need to know joy and there is nothing like creating art to inspire such feelings.”
As he was propelled to his feet by the elf lord’s strong grasp, Gil-galad could not contain the wide smile that lit his face. He would be allowed to learn art? That was such a foreign concept to him, he still had a hard time believing it, for his father had never allowed such ‘frivolity’ as Fingon had referred to it. “Thank you, milord. You have already been most generous to me. I do not have the words to express my gratitude…”
Smiling, Círdan turned and brushed his knuckles against Gil-galad’s cheek. “It is my pleasure entirely. I am glad that I can see your smile, young one. It lights up your entire being.” He began to walk away, but turned back and offered his hand to the lad. “Come along. We must make sure there is time in your schedule to study with Gelirion, so we must hurry before your next lessons begin.”
Both elves hurried away, the young boy rushing to keep up with the elf lord’s long strides.
“The boy is not doing well with his arms training, milord. He does not apply himself and shrinks from the attack. I and Tarlangion have nearly injured him too many times to count when he drops his weapon instead of defending. The boy is hopeless! After I grew frustrated with his progress with the sword, Tarlangion hoped that he would do better at the bow. He was wrong. The boy will not focus…”
During Galdor’s tirade, Círdan grew increasingly irritated with his captain and his attitude toward Gil-galad, until he could not listen to more. “Enough! The boy has a name, Galdor. Use it. From your attitude around him, it is no wonder Gil-galad cannot concentrate.” Knowing that he could not force Galdor to accept the lad, Círdan clamped down on his own anger. “Since you seem unwilling to be the proper instructor for him, I shall teach him myself.”
“But milord, you have far too many duties and responsibilities to waste your time…”
Trying to keep his temper at bay, Círdan raised his hand and interrupted. “Then you shall have to take on many of those additional duties and responsibilities since I will be taking away one of yours.” The elf lord glared at Galdor daring him to say anything further.
Galdor turned away. “Aye, as you wish, milord.”
As Círdan assumed primary responsibility for all areas of Gil-galad’s training, the lad was practically inseparable from the elf lord. It made sense for Gil to be with him as he conducted inspections, tours, and general business. Once they had established a routine and all the folk were comfortable with Gil-galad’s presence, Círdan began to query the boy about the conversations, trying to get the lad to think of what was occurring and see more than what was simply being said, paying attention to what was not said and how the words were uttered. Of course, with Gil-galad’s tendency to be shy and withdrawn, it was not always easy to do this, but Círdan was patient and understanding and seemed to know how to cajole the lad to greater confidence.
The one part of his duty that Círdan truly loved was being the first to command all newly made ships. It was not a necessity as there were many capable captains among the Falathrim, but it was one duty that Círdan would not relinquish nor delegate. He loved the sea and missed being on it, so took every available opportunity to ride the waves.
Gil-galad stood on the deck of the ship and watched in amazement as his mentor calmly steered the newly made vessel from the sheltering bay and out into the open waters of the sea. It was his first time out of the bay and he was vibrating with excitement. Even the raucous cries of the gulls could not lessen his delight. As the vessel plowed through the smooth waters, his dark hair flew behind him, and his eyes shone. He turned and watched as the larger sails were unfurled and their speed increased. Gil’s eyes moved to the stern and the commanding figure standing at the helm. Círdan cut an imposing figure, his tall form clad in grey leggings and a dark blue tunic, leaving his strong arms bare on this sunny summer day. He looked down from the horizon and his eyes, the same color as the sky, twinkled at Gil-galad’s expression. He cocked his head indicating the lad should join him. Almost instantly, the youth was at his side, his joy contagious. “So, what do you think of the sea now, young one?”
For the first time in the twelve long years since he had left his mother’s sheltering arms, Gil-galad truly felt at home. His whole body glowed with his delight. “It is more than I could have imagined. The sky is so blue and the horizon stretches so far on all sides. It is as though we are the last of our kind…” At that moment, dolphins broke the surface and swam beside the swift vessel. Gil-galad was speechless, for he had only heard of such creatures. Never could he have imagined that they could swim as fast as a ship! He ran for the side to get a better view of the swift beings.
The shipwright saw the dolphins and was pleased. “Ah, it seems that we have received Ulmo’s blessing upon another ship. It is a lovely day indeed.”
As the sun sunk beneath the horizon, the returning ship at last pulled into its slip at the docks, guided there by Círdan’s firm hand which was gently directing Gil-galad’s as he showed the lad how to steer the vessel into port. It had been a glorious day and both elves were happy as they strode home for a late dinner.
When the bloodied elf rode in on his exhausted horse, all who saw him knew that times were indeed grave for the First Born. Many of the elves of the Falathrim had gone to fight the Dark Lord at Fingon’s side, but few returned to Eglarest and Brithombar. As he made his way to the manor on the hill, silence greeted the messenger. None would cheer his news this dark day.
Círdan and Galdor met the messenger at the base of the steps. The elf swayed briefly when his legs at last touched solid ground. From the looks of he and his mount, they had been riding non-stop for days. With a slight nod, a stable hand quickly took the ruined mount and led it away. Círdan reached out a hand to steady the young dark-haired elf. “What is your name, lad? I think you should rest and have your wounds taken care of before delivering your news.”
The elf only shook his head before speaking. “Nay, milord. You must know… The High King is dead. We were betrayed!” Thankful for the hand steadying him, he took a deep breath and continued. “I am Callon. I was sent ahead. We were completely routed. There are few survivors, but they are coming here with the Dark Lord’s forces on their tails. You must be ready…”
“Callon, how fare those of the High King’s household?” Círdan did not really desire to hear the answer, but he knew that he must find out, for Gil-galad’s sake.
“The queen and her escort were slaughtered while trying to escape, milord. None survived.” Callon could no longer stand, he collapsed from exhaustion and his injuries. Though pained by grief, Círdan easily gathered the young elf in his arms and carried him to the healers. Galdor walked beside him in silence, knowing well the anguish radiating from his lord.
After turning the messenger over to the healers, Círdan looked at Galdor. “Please stay with him. Get as many details as you can when he wakes. We need to know what we face.”
“Milord? What of you?” Galdor was deeply concerned for his lord and friend.
“Gil-galad must know that his father is dead.” Clenching his jaw against his own feelings, he continued. “And, that his mother is lost as well.” Clasping his loyal aide’s shoulder, Círdan looked into his eyes and briefly revealed the depth of his pain before schooling his features once again. “There is too much to do for any of us to fall to our emotions. We have to prepare the people, insure our defenses will hold. I will grieve when my people are safe.”
Círdan was distraught at the loss of so many lives, and not just of his own folk. Fingon could be an ass, but he had been a valuable ally and ultimately even a good friend. The knowledge that Galthurineth was gone cut deeply. She had been so young when their marriage was suggested, Círdan still felt some measure of guilt at arranging it. But when he thought of Gil-galad and how his eyes would light up with delight, the shipwright could not find it in his heart to regret their marriage. Striding through the quiet streets he was unable to contain his anger and anxiety, but he knew that he must, for there was one who had not yet been informed of the losses.
Finding Gil-galad aiding the sail cloth maker who he was currently apprenticed to, Círdan strode into the small workshop, the news he was to deliver making his stomach roil. “Nathron, may I take your student away early today?”
Nathron bowed deeply. “Of course milord, that you have loaned him to me at all is a blessing that I knew would not last.”
Gil-galad looked up, concerned, when Círdan arrived at the shop. The elf lord did not come to check on him directly and never came to fetch him, that was always delegated to a page or messenger. He quickly finished the seam he was working on and carefully replaced his supplies before standing. “I am ready, milord.”
As they walked out of the small shop, Círdan’s continued silence caused butterflies to flutter in Gil-galad’s stomach. Something was wrong, he could feel it. Círdan strode through the streets with his usual long strides, and even though Gil-galad had grown, he still had to rush to keep up. “Lord Círdan, what is wrong? Have I done something? Please…” His voice shook as he worried that he had somehow done something to anger his mentor.
The lad’s pleading tone finally reached Círdan and he halted. Turning, he looked at Gil-galad. “Oh, my boy, it is nothing you have done. We need to speak and I was set upon a destination, not thinking how it must seem to you. Please forgive me for upsetting you.” He sighed, knowing that far worse upset was coming. Extending his hand, he clasped Gil-galad’s and set off again, this time at a pace easier for Gil to keep up with.
Once they arrived at Gil-galad’s favorite perch, looking out to the sea over the roofs of Eglarest, Círdan sat down on the stone ledge and motioned for Gil to do the same. Being completely unsure if there was a best way to deliver such news, the elf lord simply began. “We had a messenger today. He was injured and had been riding for many days…” Círdan paused to compose himself. “Our forces were betrayed, and most died upon the plains before Angband…”
Gil-galad looked at the elf lord, his eyes narrowed. “My father is dead then?” He had known that his father intended to surprise the Dark Lord and confront him before his lair. He tried to feel grief, but Fingon had never been a father to him. There was no real emotion called forth by his loss, save a twinge of regret that he would never be able to truly know his father.
Círdan simply nodded, knowing the lad would not be prepared for the next. “Your mother is not among the survivors, young one.”
“No! You lie!” The heartbreak in those words tore at Círdan and he reached to comfort the boy. “My mother was no warrior. She would not have been near the fighting.” The elf lord finally encircled the struggling youth with strong arms and pulled him tightly against his chest. His harsh breathing signaled that he was fighting against the tears.
“Cry. There is no shame in venting your feelings, young one. You loved your mother, as well you should, so it is natural to grieve her loss.” Círdan’s voice cracked at the last. Tears ran down his cheeks to drop into the dark hair resting against his chest. The two elves clung to each other, their shared grief cast upon the winds.
The next months were a whirlwind of activity in both Eglarest and Brithombar for both towns were rapidly filling with survivors from the massacre of the Battle of Unnumbered Tears. Gil-galad was doing his best to help in any way his newly learned skills would provide the most aid, but he mostly found himself used merely as a messenger, something he was quite capable of doing long before he had begun studying with the local tradesmen. It was frustrating knowing that there was so much to do, but he was simply to carry messages from one place to another.
One day found Gil-galad sitting on his favorite perch, charcoal in hand, softly rubbing against the surface of the parchment. He was finally attempting to draw his mother from memory. That he might never see her again still hurt, but at least now he could think on her without sobs trying to issue from his throat. Thinking of her unconditional love and bright smile made him feel warm inside and he smiled slightly.
Suddenly the air was rent by a lone horn in the distance, one long blast followed by three short ones. The enemy had been sighted! That was the signal to close the great gates in the outer wall. Gil-galad was suddenly nervous with anticipation. He had never seen battle before. He quickly hurried to Círdan’s study, ready for whatever duty he would be assigned, even runner.
As he walked into the elf lord’s chambers, they were awash in activity, with elves leaving and arriving hurriedly. Above all the hubbub was Círdan, quietly but effectively issuing orders right and left. As one elf would leave him with their duties, another would arrive. It was amazing how well oiled everything seemed, even though the Havens had yet to be attacked. When Círdan spotted Gil-galad, he motioned for the lad to come to him. Gil-galad’s heart was in his throat, not knowing what was expected of him.
“Young one, I am glad you came unbidden. You really have learned so much in such a short time…” Círdan trailed off as a map was spread out on his desk and different areas were indicated by a pointed finger. Looking up at the elf speaking, he replied, “Aye, we need that information. Please convey it to Galdor. I shall return in a few minutes.” Motioning with his head, Círdan indicated that Gil-galad should walk with him. They strode down hallways and stairways until they soon arrived at the lad’s rooms. Opening the door, Círdan walked in.
Once Gil had entered, the elf lord closed the door behind them and began speaking. “Gil-galad, please gather what things you value the most. There is a ship leaving shortly from the docks. You will take your things and get on that vessel.”
“But, milord, I am needed here. I can be of use. Do not send me away!” Gil-galad struggled valiantly to keep his voice from cracking. He did not want to be treated as a child, so he must not behave as one, but the reminder of being sent away once before rose like bile in him. He was forever to be pawned off on others, someone too valuable as a symbol to be allowed in the midst of conflict. Someone that must be shuttled aside, ‘kept safe’. That it was Círdan who was doing it to him this time hurt the most. His eyes glittered with unshed tears as he looked up, his hurt and betrayal clearly written on his face.
Hating himself for again wrenching the boy from what was familiar, Círdan gathered the lad in his arms and held him tightly. “Please understand… I am not sending you away to be rid of you. You are not an unwelcome burden.” Tipping the boy’s chin up so their eyes could meet, the elf lord continued, gently, “I need to know that you are safe and well. It matters greatly to me that nothing happens to you. When all is safe here once again, I will send for you to return. It is not another permanent exile.”
“If you command it, I will go.” Gil-galad let out a resigned sigh. At least he was not being sent away again forever. Or that was what they both believed at the time.
Elrond moaned quietly and stirred in his sleep, pulling Gil-galad from his musings. The High King turned on his side and pulled his lover close, smoothing his hair away from his face. He smiled as Elrond snuggled against him. Warmth, along with the scent of his lover, flooded Gil’s senses. He pondered how such few places in his life had given him a sense of warmth and belonging. Being here, holding Elrond was one, his mother’s embrace another, and the Isle of Balar loomed large in his thoughts…
The few ships and survivors that made it to the Isle of Balar were war weary and despondent. That both Eglarest and Brithombar ultimately fell, their stone walls and defenses shattered, ate at Círdan. And the worst was how few had survived the siege and final assault of the Dark Lord’s forces. His failure to defend his people and their homes carved Círdan’s visage into one of hard polished stone. His blue eyes no longer shone in the sunlight, they were dull and lifeless. The grief and guilt weighed him down and threatened to overwhelm him.
Gil-galad watched silently from the back of the small council chamber. He was saddened by the specter that his mentor had become, no joy, no light shone from the elf lord, only a hollow shell seemed to be left of the once vibrant elf. In the months that Gil-galad had been on the island, he had explored every last chunk of land that he could reach and only yesterday had made a great discovery, a secret place that seemed untrammeled by elf or beast. The lad vowed that today he would take Círdan and show him his discovery, hoping that the wonder of the place would provide a balm to his mentor and return him to Gil-galad.
Círdan would have objected to this interruption in his daily schedule, but he had been neglectful of the boy since arriving on the shores of the island, and he truly wanted to see Gil-galad smile once again. “So where are you leading me?” The elf lord queried for the third time.
Gil-galad smiled brightly, gladdened that Círdan had agreed to come. “It is a secret, a place I only found yesterday during my explorations.” He glanced back at his mentor and noticed that the walk among the greenery seemed to be easing the tension around the elf lord’s eyes. “Just follow me for once. It is well worth the trip.”
As they walked deeper into the forest, Círdan felt himself begin to relax. The forest was dense with undergrowth, ferns and bromeliads covered the ground. The trees were tall and majestic, but allowed little light to filter through the canopy of leaves. The elf lord could hear small animals scurrying away from their path as they made their way through the trees. Birds were calling and fluttering through the branches. It was peaceful here and a calm began to wash over Círdan.
Finally, the elf lord began to hear the sounds of roaring water and he puzzled at that until they walked out of the cover of the trees and stood before a deep pool feeding a vigorous stream, a tall waterfall cascading into the pool. The sun was bright and he had to blink a few times to clear the stars from his eyes. The scene was idyllic, the pool being deep and clear, the rocky sides and sandy floor visible away from the roiling of the waterfall.
Círdan smiled widely. “But this is no secret place. It is beautiful and soothing, but no secret.”
Gil-galad looked at the elf lord and grinned mischievously. “This is not the secret place, but you must swim to reach it.” As he was speaking, the boy was quickly stripping off his clothes and boots. He had begun to get sweaty in the humidity of the dense forest and he wanted nothing more than to dive into the cool water. “Will you trust me and follow for a bit longer?”
Gil-galad’s first shy smile had completely endeared him to Círdan and now the elf lord was more than happy to do as he requested. He nodded easily to the youth who promptly dove into the water and began swimming about the pool, circling as he waited. Stripping off his own clothes, Círdan dove into the pool and, with long sure strokes, quickly caught up to Gil-galad, who was now swimming directly for the heavy rush of water from the waterfall. Seeing the doubt in Círdan’s eyes, Gil-galad grabbed his hand, nodded and dove down, his back feeling the beat of the water even though they were now more than a few feet beneath the surface.
Once they passed under the waterfall, Gil-galad pulled them to the sandy bottom of the pool and propelled them forward, underneath a rocky ledge behind the waterfall. Finally, they surfaced in a hidden cave, completely inaccessible, except from beneath the water. As Círdan surfaced he looked about in amazement. Gil-galad pulled himself onto the dry stone and spoke, not needing to shout, as the enclosing rock muffled the roar of the waterfall. “This is the secret. Is it not incredible? I could find no hint that I was not the first living creature to find this place.”
Círdan exited the pool and sat on the cool rocks and marveled at the well lit cavern. “This is indeed a find, have you learned how it is so well lit while being equally well hidden?” The elf lord’s innate curiosity took hold and he found himself discussing different rock types and cave formation, a topic that Círdan had always thought most interesting.
Gil-galad noted the smile on Círdan’s face and felt pleased that he had managed to find something to bring the elf lord a measure of peace. “The light comes from lots of these crystals. There are some large ones in the roof, but most are along this wall. Depending upon the time of day, it can be quite bright or quite dark in here. I was lucky that I found it during the late morning, when the sun radiates through the crystals on the wall and lights up practically everything.”
The peaceful solitude and the company did act as a balm to Círdan’s pain and guilt, and the elf lord felt more at peace than he had since arriving on the island. “Thank you for sharing this with me, young one. It is a special place, truly.”
Gil-galad’s smile was blinding. “I am so glad you enjoyed it. It can be our secret. If you ever need a place to escape to, you now know how to get here.”
Once they finally left the cavern and swam to shore for the walk back to town, Círdan smiled. Hope remained and as long as he was yet alive, that hope would not die. It was a newly energized elf lord that returned to his office for the remainder of the day. From that day forward, Círdan gradually returned to his old self, complete with sparkling blue eyes, and Gil-galad was glad.
Gil-galad sat in his secret sanctuary, musing upon his past and his future. He was melancholy about all that had happened in his short life, but realized that he had been so much more fortunate than many others. He had never truly been alone as so many of the residents of the island were, those who had lost their entire families made up a large contingent of the youngest of the survivors. It was this knowledge that had enabled Gil-galad to overcome his own fears and reticence and become the leader they needed. He knew he was yet young and still had so much to learn, but he had the best teacher, for Círdan was wise and kind and had already taught him so much. His stomach fluttered at the thought of what he still knew nothing of.
All the years since Gil had arrived on the island had been so busy building a haven, a shipyard, docks, and homes for the survivors of the destruction of the Falas, that none had time for frivolity like begetting days. But this day was important as no other. After this night, Gil-galad would no longer be a youth or a child. He would celebrate his majority and would be an adult. He would be able to take his rightful place as a lord among the First Born, still learning, but now leading as well. Thinking on his life, his few trusted friends, and those closest to him, Gil-galad knew there was only one possibility for this night. The question was, would he agree?
After rehearsing his speech numerous times in his rooms, Gil-galad strode to Círdan’s office. He was nervous, but had to see this through. There was no other choice and Gil-galad was too impatient to wait for any other. Standing outside the plain mahogany door, the young elf lord gathered his courage and knocked, firmly. Círdan looked away from the window at the sound. “Enter.”
Though nervous, Gil-galad walked in confidently, glanced around the room to insure they were alone, and closed the door behind him. “Milord? May I speak to you?”
Sensing something in Gil’s manner, Círdan arose from his desk and walked to a side board. Casually, he turned to the youth. “Would you like a glass of wine? The vintner has just released a new white, if you would like to try it? It is a bit sweet for my taste, but is light and refreshing.”
Gil-galad accepted the glass and took a sip. “Thank you. I did need something to drink and this… is not bad. Really, it is quite pleasant.” Knowing that he was simply procrastinating, Gil-galad decided the best way was the direct approach. It had always been his way in the past and would serve him well in the future. He turned to look directly into Círdan’s bright blue eyes which seemed mildly puzzled at the moment. “I would ask that you be the one that initiates me this night, milord.” At Círdan’s surprised expression, Gil-galad continued, his words obviously well rehearsed. “No other could I trust, for you alone care for me and know me as I am. All others see me only as the potential High King, a figure head, a source of power and prestige. I need to know that I am made an adult by one who will be gentle with me and care about more than merely the physical pleasure.”
Círdan loved the youth dearly and was proud at how he had grown into a strong and capable young elf. His potential was now obvious to all who saw him. Gil-galad was tall, almost as tall as Círdan himself. His blue grey eyes could light up a room when he was delighted, but his anger had become well known and most avoided him when his eyes were the color of a stormy sea. He was fair of face and body, but also kind and giving. His innate shyness had not gone completely, only been tempered such that he was a good listener and often waited to weigh all options. Because he would not jump in and be the center of debate or attention, he would wait and never made snap decisions, thus he could find the subtleties in whatever was before the council and could tease out the best solutions.
As Círdan mused on how Gil-galad had grown and changed, the elf lord realized that he could not refuse the request, for every word spoken was the truth. The very traits that had finally surfaced and manifested themselves visibly were the same things that made it impossible for any other to teach Gil what he needed to know this night. He was correct; his young heart was fragile and needed to be cared for as much, if not more than, his youthful body.
Círdan set his glass of wine down and walked to the youth who was obviously ill at ease. Reaching out, he stroked the fair skin of Gil-galad’s cheek with his knuckles. “You do me a great honor, young one.” Deciding to be completely honest with the youth, the elf lord continued, “I must have you know that I care so deeply for you, this can not simply be a single night of instruction. There is too much to teach you, but most importantly, I know that my heart will not let you go once I have tasted of you.” The elf lord turned away to look out to sea, not wanting to see Gil-galad’s eyes when he answered the next. “If you cannot abide by that, then I cannot agree to your request.”
Gil-galad’s blood was thrumming in his ears. He was certain he had heard correctly. The decision was his. He drained his glass and set it down on the side board before slowly walking to his mentor. Moving so that he forced their eyes to meet, Gil-galad took Círdan’s face in his hands and pressed their lips together inexpertly, but oh so sweetly. “The offer still stands. It must be you. There is no other.”
Another battered and bloodied messenger arrived at the steps of Círdan’s home, but this one had come farther than the last and walked from the docks, instead of riding astride a ruined mount. The other difference from the last was that it was not only Galdor who stood at Círdan’s side, but also a dark haired elf, almost as tall as Lord Círdan himself, his blue grey eyes narrowed with unease.
“My lords, Gondolin has fallen. High King Turgon is dead.”
Both Círdan and Galdor turned and watched Gil-galad, wondering how he would take the news. He was now High King of the Noldor, the youngest to assume that position. When he said nothing, obviously still stunned at the news, Círdan spoke. “Galdor, see this ellon to the healing wing and, once he is recovered, find out all he knows. We will need to be prepared for any survivors.”
Círdan gently urged Gil-galad back into their home and straight to his office. He knew Gil needed a few minutes and at least one glass of wine to deal with the news. Gil-galad roused from his waking daydream only once he was seated upon the leather sofa in Círdan’s office and a cool glass of white wine was pressed into his hand. He automatically took a drink and did not even notice as he quickly drank the entire glass. “Slow down, young one. You will be expected to make a speech and it would be best if you did not sway and slur your words.”
And, in that moment, as Gil-galad looked up at him, Círdan recalled his first sight of the young elf, whose eyes were impossibly wide as he glimpsed the sea. Gil was obviously terrified. After sitting, Círdan took Gil-galad’s face between his hands and rested their foreheads together. He wanted nothing to distract Gil as he spoke. “Stop thinking. You, Ereinion Gil-galad Fingonion, are now High King.”
“But, I am not ready!” Gil protested. “I have not even seen one century. This is not possible.” He frantically looked into loving blue eyes. “You take it. You should be High King.”
“Gil. You know that I cannot take this burden from you. I would if it was at all possible.” Círdan pulled Gil-galad into his arms and held him tightly, soothing him. “You will not face this alone. I will be here, at your side.” As long as you will have me, young one.
Gil-galad stood at the window and stared out to the beach. Even his keen elven sight could not see Círdan from this distance. Sighing, he poured himself another glass of wine and paced, hoping he could lessen his anxiety. Something was happening, something of great import, of that he was certain, and it rankled that he, the High King, had to sit here and wait to learn of it. Gil-galad had never been a patient elf, and the longer Círdan was gone, the greater his apprehension grew.
So caught up was he in his own emotions, Gil-galad missed the quietly opened door. He did not hear it shut softly, and was startled when strong arms surrounded him as soft laughter brushed past his ear. “Are you still angry that you could not come with me?”
“You know I am.” He turned and stared into Círdan’s clear blue eyes, their depths had always soothed him, but this time Gil-galad wished to stay angry, so he turned away. He knew he was being ridiculous, but he had a large knot of fear in his stomach that the elf lord’s return did not unravel. Círdan smiled, crookedly, and took Gil-galad’s wine to sip. Well knowing Gil’s temper, he simply waited for the outburst and would calmly put all to right once the storm blew past. “Gods! I just do not like it! Why must you meet Ossë beneath the waves? He is a Maia, he can assume any form. Why must you be the one changed? Why does he take you so far? What if he forgets you and lets you loose or does not change you back? You could be lost or worse and I would never know what happened…”
“Hush, young one. I am here, no worse for the wear.” Círdan again wrapped his arms around Gil-galad and pulled him tightly to his chest, as he ran a hand through the dark hair. “You fear things that will not happen. Ossë and I have been meeting in this manner for centuries. It is his way… and, I must confess, I rather enjoy taking the dolphin form. To be a part of the sea, for even a short time… it is hard to explain, but it is intensely exhilarating.” Círdan did not add that his visits with Ossë were always much longer than strictly necessary as the Maia granted him time to explore as a dolphin.
Only slightly mollified, Gil-galad pulled away and moved to the sideboard to pour another glass of wine. “So what was the news?”
The air grew thick with tension. “We have been at war since the Noldor returned to Middle Earth. How is that news?”
Shaking his head, Círdan explained. “Not just us, no longer. The hosts of the Valar, the elves from Valinor, the Maia, all are coming. Eärendil was successful. He made it to the Undying Lands and convinced the Valar to come to our aid.” The elf lord grimaced at the thought of meeting Eärendil again. How would Círdan explain to him that they were too late to keep his sons from being taken? He shook his head, those old regrets did not help them now.
“So at last we will be rid of the Dark Lord?”
Círdan drained his glass and moved to pour another. “I hope so, but Ossë warned that we must be ready to evacuate. We must have enough ships for all our people, even those still on the mainland.”
“How much time do we have?” Gil-galad experienced both dread and anticipation at the prospect. He had been kept far removed from the conflicts in the past and had not yet experienced warfare. Their people had even been too late to reach Arvernien when the Fëanorians attacked, so the High King did not fight even then, and both he and Círdan yet carried the grief of not being able to keep Elwing and her twins safe.
“Ossë did not specify, but it could be as soon as a few turnings of the moon or as long as a few turnings of the sun. We must do our best to prepare. Those here can be set to work, but I fear the survivors yet left in Arvernien are still too scarred to be able to aid themselves in this, besides they are not mariners. It will be up to us.” Círdan worried that they would not be able to make ready those refugees and he feared more lives lost on his watch.
“Would you have me travel there to prepare them?” Gil-galad had grown to love the Isle of Balar, but the delta at the mouths of the Sirion had always been a favored place to explore. Some of the land reminded him of the banks of Lake Mithrim and more carefree times.
“I would, while I ready things here. We have much to do, and no idea how long to accomplish it.” Círdan realized that they had again slipped into their old roles of mentor and student. “Gil. You know that the choice is yours. If you have another idea, please speak up. You are the High King.”
Gil laughed. “I am the High King out there. As you well know, I am yet your student in here.” His eyes twinkled as he brushed his knuckles against the back of Círdan’s hand. “I should take my leave and prepare so I can embark first thing in the morning. Until dinner.” He nodded, smiling, and strode out.
Círdan watched him withdraw and a premonition of loss washed over the elf lord, as though he must soon grow accustomed to watching Gil-galad leave and never return.
Gil-galad disembarked and he and his party quickly moved into the settlement. Most elves had abandoned this location in favor of the safer ones on the Isle of Balar, but there were still some number in residence and those numbers had been increasing of late, as more elves made their way here. The High King cut an imposing figure as he strode through the cobblestone streets, searching for someone of authority that he could begin to work with. It was critical that evacuation plans be made and everyone knew their tasks.
Gil-galad strode around the once-abandoned home that he had adopted as his base while in the settlements. His head ached and he felt anxiety welling up inside. Worried that the host was already coming, he began to pace, thinking that he needed to finish here and return to the Isle soonest. He was unready to be separated from Círdan if war was upon them.
A swift knock sounded on the door. “Enter.” As he stopped pacing and turned, he faced Callon, who was pale and visibly shaken.
“Callon, what is wrong?” He quelled his apprehension and calmly waited for the elf to answer.
“There is an elf that wishes to speak to you.”
“Let him in, of course. Why is that a problem?” Callon’s manner was discomfiting to Gil-galad and he was trying hard not to lose his temper.
“He is not outside. He will return once you have agreed to his terms.”
“He will only speak to you and requests that you grant him safe passage, and not interfere with his comings and goings.”
“Callon! Who is this elf? Explain now.” In times of war, no one was granted free passage without a good reason and much assurances.
Callon sighed. He knew his king and did not wish to be the one standing before him with this news. “Gildor Inglorion. He claims to have ‘valuable’ property that he is willing to return, if we meet all his terms.”
“Gildor? One of the very Fëanorions that sacked this settlement? I will not agree! He should be in chains and answering for his deeds, not issuing demands.” Gil-galad sensed something unsaid by Callon, but, though the elf was many centuries his senior, he would never speak out or counter anything said by the High King. “Callon. If there is more to this, I need to know. Tell me all of it.”
“I only suspect, Sire. It was the words he used and the way he said them. I think he means to return the twins.” Callon had seen the destruction wrought on the settlement and had, along with all those there that day, grieved mightily that they had been delayed and been able to save so few. But worst of all was the loss of the twins. It still ate at all of the elves and each hoped that someday they could make amends.
Gil-galad was stirred by that revelation. If that was truly what was offered, then he would agree to almost anything. They had failed Eärendil’s children once, they would not do so again. “Tell me his conditions.”
As they approached the clearing, Callon looked to his king whose visage was grim, his eyes glittering darkly. He was being dictated to by a Kinslayer and it galled him, but there was a debt to be paid. When they arrived, there were no others visible, and Gil-galad stirred restlessly on his mount, until three elves stepped from behind the trees, one blond, two dark, obviously Elros and Elrond.
Quickly dismounting, the king strode to the elves. Completely ignoring Gildor, he looked the youths over, scrutinizing them. Their identical faces were not smiling and their eyes were downcast. He spoke softly to them, “Elros? Elrond? I am Ereinion Gil-galad. You will be coming to live with me and my people. We will care for you.” The king did not wish to scare the lads, having no idea how they had been treated, so he relented and looked to Gildor, questioning.
“They did not wish to come. We have been their family for forty-two years, you are yet strangers.” Gildor’s tone was almost accusatory, but he was very careful not to provoke the High King. In his observations, he had learned much of Gil-galad, especially about his temper, and knew that inciting him to anger would do nothing to ease the twins’ transition. Sighing, Gildor was conciliatory. “Sire, we have cared for these two since they were very small. They are part of our family. This is not easy for any of us, but it must be done.”
“Why must it be done? Explain why you are just now deciding they should be with us.”
Gildor nodded at the twins and waved them to stay put before turning to Gil-galad. “Walk with me and I will tell you what I know.”
As they moved out of earshot, Gildor began quietly relating his tale. “Something is on the horizon. Maglor feels it. We all care deeply for the lads and do not wish to see them come to any harm.” He turned and stared intently at the High King. “You have the means to protect them that we do not.”
“You mean you would not wish further harm to come to them, other than what your actions have already done?” Gil-galad would not reveal what he knew of the coming war.
“I will not be bated into a confrontation.” Gildor’s eyes flashed, angrily, but his voice was smooth as he continued to speak. “Maglor… we all were concerned that continuous roaming was no longer serving their needs. They need stability and… security that we cannot provide.”
“Mayhap if you had thought of these things before you attacked their home?”
“Enough! Will you look after them? They are just shy of their majority and will need social skills. They are good students, although Elros favors arms practice to lectures and Elrond is the better pupil.” Anxiety crept into Gildor’s voice as he put words to memories of their studies and practices. He had enjoyed teaching the boys and would miss them greatly, but even he had relented and agreed that this would be best.
Gil-galad had not missed the obvious affection in Gildor’s voice, but he was unwilling to make this easy for him, for them. “Of course we will. They will be safe, secure, and cared for in ways you and yours could never understand.” He turned away, ready to leave.
Gildor clenched his jaw and quickly grabbed the High King’s arm, forcing him to stop. Gil-galad turned, his grey-blue eyes stormy, as he glared at the hand on his arm. Gildor did not flinch, nor pull away. “You must know, before you go… Elrond is acutely sensitive, he has an awareness of things, visions, if you will, that come to pass. It can be hard on him. Elros does not share that gift. Whatever you do, do not separate them. They have a unique bond and do not fare well when apart.” He dropped his hand and let Gil-galad walk away, but not before reminding him of his agreement. “You swore I would be allowed free passage, on my terms. I will not make my presence known to the twins, but I will be checking on them.”
Gil-galad only nodded as he strode away.
Círdan watched as the last of the survivors that chose to leave for the Undying Lands boarded the ships. He frowned at the numbers that chose to flee when the Dark Lord was finally defeated. Yes, Beleriand and all their homes were gone, lost under the sea as Middle Earth had been remade, but there was still so much hope and opportunity in this land, and Círdan, even with his long years, was not yet ready to leave it. Though scores were leaving, many chose to stay, thus there was still much to do in the growing port town. This set the shipwright to thinking and he wondered how Gil-galad fared with the construction crews for the castle. He smiled as he remembered that conversation, or argument, more like. How his protégé had matured! Círdan was immensely proud.
Círdan had thought the palace should be the first thing built, as a symbol of the new settlement and the seat of the High King’s power. Gil-galad had disagreed, vehemently. He wanted the ‘useful’ buildings built first, followed by the tradesmen’s homes, last would come the frivolity of a palace. For all the years that his father had ruled as High King, his dwelling could never be mistaken for a castle, so Gil did not feel the need to build a grand edifice for himself. At long last they had compromised. Gil-galad would have a palace in Forlindon, situated at the Port of Forlond, a grand structure that would inspire confidence and a sense of security, but it would be the last home constructed. He would not live in some ornate building while any of his people yet slept in tents.
Círdan stood watching the sails disappear across the horizon, his heart heavy for his loved ones. The favorable winds that were quickly separating two who should not be torn asunder blew his silver hair into his face, obscuring the unshed tears. He turned to Gil-galad, who was not as successful at restraining the falling tears, and clasped his hand. Those blue-grey eyes turned to him as they ever had, for reassurance and comfort, but this time, he knew, would be the last. “It is as it was meant to be. Elros is a great leader, his people will flourish.” He pulled Gil-galad close and held him tightly, rubbing soothing circles on his back. “You could not have prevented this, though we all will miss him greatly.”
Gil-galad’s voice caught in his throat. “You know it is not for Elros I grieve. He is in love and seems somehow at peace with his choice. It is Elrond…” He could not reveal how Elrond’s pain tore at him, shredding his insides more than his own hurts ever could.
The elf lord took a deep breath, knowing that the long anticipated break had finally arrived. Círdan had known, almost from the first, that Gil-galad was not his, not truly, and the day would come when the High King would find the one who he belonged with. This was that day. “Gil. Go to him. He needs you and you need me no longer…”
Gil-galad’s heart quelled and he hastily interrupted, protesting. “Nay! I need you… more than your counsel and friendship. I need your nearness… your love.”
Círdan smiled, warmly, and brushed his knuckles against Gil-galad’s cheek. “You have ever had those, and always will. Mithlond is not so far away… but our paths were only meant to cross, young one, not be intertwined as yours is with Elrond’s.” Círdan leaned in and brushed his lips lightly against Gil’s, committing their feeling and taste to memory.
Knowing the truth of his words, Gil leaned into the kiss and savored it. He opened his eyes and gazed deep into the shimmering blue eyes, so full of love and devotion it made his heart swell. “I love you.”
A large lump formed in his throat, but he forced the words out. “Go… he needs you.”
As the tall form left the tower, Círdan whispered to his retreating back, “I love you, young one, and always will.”
As dawn neared, the memories faded, but Gil-galad knew that he was not yet done with his past. He carefully slipped out from beneath his lover and hastily dressed. Before leaving their tent, Gil-galad turned and looked at his lover, dark hair spread upon the white pillow, lips slightly parted in sleep, and his eyes closed. Smiling, he gently brushed a dark tendril from Elrond’s brow as he recalled when he learned that the Peredhel slept with his eyes closed. Elrond stirred, but did not wake. The High King turned away and quietly left their tent. He strode confidently, his burgundy cape snapping behind him, through the still sleeping camp, only the sentries moving about giving any indication of life. Once arriving at his council tent, he walked in and lit the small oil lamp and sat down to write two letters. Being certain of the outcome of this conflict, he needed to consign his thoughts and feelings to paper, making sure they would be delivered after the final battle.
The battle weary elves from Imladris and the Havens returned slowly, their intense desire to be reunited with their loved ones the only thing keeping the exhausted and disheartened elves mounted. In the front of the caravan, two lords rode in pained silence, both consumed with grief. Their victory rang hollowly, too many had died for the final outcome to be that the One Ring was not unmade, but there was nothing either elf lord could do to change Isildur’s folly, though they both had tried.
For too many the homecoming was painful, as their loved ones did not return. It grew harder each day, and Elrond began to rely on Círdan to help him with the unpleasant duty. At last, all of the families of the fallen had been met with. Very few opted to stay, most chose to ride with Círdan’s warriors to the Grey Havens, and on to the Undying Lands.
When the final day was upon them, Elrond called Círdan into his office. Once the shipwright arrived, Elrond motioned him in and moved to close the door behind him. “Would you care for some Miruvor?” Elrond had always been in awe of the elder elf, and once he learned that Gil-galad had left Círdan for him, Elrond had always felt a measure of guilt.
Almost as though reading Elrond’s thoughts, Círdan spoke up. “Elrond, he did not choose you over me, you were the only choice.” The shipwright moved to stand beside Elrond and meet his gaze. “I loved him. I yet do, but he was not meant for me. That I was allowed the joy of his company is more than I could have wished for. Let go of the guilt, it does neither of us any good.” Círdan turned away, and his eyes rested upon Aeglos, standing in a darkened corner, carefully shielded from any harm. He lowered his head against the pain of loss, and ruefully shook his head. Elrond would need reminders of his lover, Círdan had no right to ask for the spear.
When he looked up again, Elrond was standing before him holding Aeglos, presenting it to him. “It was you that gave this to Gil and taught him how to use it, it is you that should have it in remembrance…” Elrond’s voice broke, but no tears came. He thought he had none left to fall.
Círdan reverently took the spear from Elrond and then tightly pulled the elf lord to his chest. “Thank you.” As they held each other, their tears mingled, past hurts forgotten, new bonds forged. Elrond quietly replied, “We shall remember him together, always.”
Miscellaneous notes and timeline, for those so interested:
I based this story on the Silmarillion, thus Fingon as Gil-galad’s father.
436 F.A. Born to Fingon and Falathrim maiden, Galthurineth, which means ‘secret light’
456 F.A. Sent to the Falas to be fostered by Círdan. At 20, he is approximately 9 ˝ in human years.
471 F.A. Both parents are killed. Turgon becomes High King. At 35, he is approximately 14 ˝ in human years.
472 F.A. Escape to the Isle of Balar as the Falas is besieged and overrun.
486 F.A. Majority celebration. At 50, he is approximately 18 in human years.
510 F.A. Gondolin Falls. Becomes High King. At 74, is the youngest to assume that position, and is approximately 22 ˝ in human years.
580 F.A. The twins are returned. At 48, they are approximately 17 ˝ in human years.
587 F.A. Founds Lindon. Beginning of the Second Age.