Erestor carefully placed the
quill back into its holder and leaned back, covering both eyes with the
palms of his hands. Several moments passed before he was able to control his
emotions, and removing his hands, he blinked owlishly at the library’s
ceiling. The veil of tears was gone, but not the ache in his heart. His gaze
fell back upon the book he had so carefully been scribing in; a quick glance
showed that none of his tears had mussed the ink-filled pages. He shoved the
book gently away. He did not need to see the words in order to recall what
was told on the pages, and he knew he would never forget Nirnaeth
Erestor knew he had been
unreasonable, but he had been angry at being forced to stay behind. The host
had required warriors, not scribes. Now here he sat, finished with the
daunting task afforded him by his King; to record the Battle of Unnumbered
Tears. The King wanted none to ever forget that darkest day. First Turgon,
and then his captains, had shared their tales with Erestor, the pain and
anguish on their faces transporting Erestor to the battlefield and leaving
him just as scarred as those who had fought. Upon their return, he had
barely recognized Elves he had grown up with. The look in Ecthelion’s and
Glorfindel’s eyes had Erestor’s breath choking on a sob.
Those warriors who had been
barely past their majority during the crossing of the Ice and who had lived
through several lesser encounters with Morgoth’s evil servants had been in
no way prepared for a war of this magnitude. Ecthelion and Glorfindel and
the other Gondolindrim had trained daily, but while that training could
prepare them physically for war, it could not make them ready to face
Morgoth’s host and the horrors they had seen and endured. The lucky ones who
returned to the Hidden City - and that number was much smaller than the full
host that had departed - were forever changed. Their eyes told the full tale
of lost innocence, and they would forever carry nightmares of blood and
They had wanted to go, had
resented their hidden nature when word came years ago of King Fingolfin’s
passing. Their warrior’s pride had cried out for a chance to prove
themselves, to join their kin in combat, to revenge the wrongs done to their
peoples by Morgoth’s evil. When news came of the Union of Maedhros and their
King announced his intentions to open the leaguer of Gondolin, the fire of
war had swept through Gondolin. Upon their return, however, the mighty gates
to the City were closed behind them, in relief. Many of those returned could
not help the guilt that burdened their heart; at least they had homes and
loved ones to come home to. Many of their kindred did not. It was called
survivor’s guilt, and Erestor had seen it deep in both Ecthelion’s and
Erestor’s eyes dropped back to
the book, and he carefully pulled it back towards him. His fingers slowly
turned the pages, back to the beginning.
// News came to
Gondolin of the plans of Maedhros, son of Fëanor, who had called for a
council. Maedhros believed that Morgoth could be defeated and he called for
all free peoples of Middle-earth to help him achieve such a victory. Across
the Western plans on Anfauglith, Fingon, High King of the Noldor, raised his
banner and stood strong and fierce facing the host of Morgoth, but his heart
lightened when from the Pass of Sirion, he heard trumpets blaring announcing
his brother Turgon, who arrived with ten-thousand Gondolindrim.
Morgoth sent out a parlay,
or so Fingon and his host thought. But the Orcs brought forth Gelmir, son of
Guilin, Lord of Nargothrond. Then before his brother’s disbelieving eyes,
they decapitated Gelmir after cutting off his hands and feet, and enraged,
Gwindor charged the army of Morgoth. The host of Hithlum charged down the
hills in a sudden onslaught. They drove the army back through the gate of
Angband. However, Morgoth had held in reserve the main body of his host and
he unleashed them upon Fingon’s host and drove them back across the wide
plain of Anfauglith, and they suffered great loss.
It was the fourth day that
unnumbered tears fell. The host of Fingon retreated over the sands and
Haldir, Lord of Haladin was slain. On the fifth day as night fell, the host
of Orcs surrounded Fingon and his army, and the battle lasted all night.
With dawn, Fingon felt
hope, for again Turgon’s mighty horns sounded. The Gondolindrim had been
stationed southward, guarding the valued Pass of Sirion, and now they
hastened forth to Fingon’s aid. Turgon fought his way to his brother’s side
and a reunion, joyous despite their surroundings, when Turgon spied Húrin,
just as the Adan had sworn. Hope was renewed in the hearts of all as finally
the horns of Maedhros were heard. Victory was within their sights.
Morgoth again emptied
Angband, and these horrors he had been saving for last, wolves and
wolfriders, Balrogs, and dragons, with Glaurung father of dragons leading
them. But it was his corruption of Man that assured Morgoth’s victory. The
Easterlings went over to the side of Morgoth and they attacked the rear of
Maedhros’ host, coming very close to him. More evil Men poured from the
surrounding hills and the host broke and was scattered. The sons of Fëanor
were able to escape, but were injured.
Fingon and Turgon found
themselves facing a foe three times greater than their own forces. The
Balrogs descended upon the brothers. Gothmog, Lord of Balrogs separated
them, and surrounded Fingon and his guard. Turgon and Húrin were thrust
toward the Fen of Serech, unable to fight their way back to Fingon’s side.
Fingon battled Gothmog alone; his guard lay dead around him, but he too was
overcome when from behind another Balrog encircled him with a ring of fire.
Gothmog threw the death blow from his black axe, and Fingon, High King of
the Noldor fell.
The battle was lost.
The House of Hador, with
Húrin and Huor leading them, along with the remaining army of Gondolin
guarded the Pass of Sirion, and Morgoth could not yet overcome them.
Finally, listening to the words of Húrin and Huor, Turgon turned and with
what was left of his people retreated, Ecthelion and Glorfindel guarding the
host’s rear. They fought their way southward, passing down the Sirion and
escaping into the mountains. //
So ends this record,
scribed by Erestor of Gondolin.
Erestor closed the book. He
rose and placed it upon his King’s desk. The tale had been recorded. It was
precise and contained all the details. He had done his duty, but Erestor’s
heart was filled with the images that were not written in the book. The last
vision his King had of his brother, Fingon’s blue and silver banner lying on
the ground in a pool of the High King’s blood. The last sight Turgon had of
his beloved older sibling was his broken and battered body as the Orcs and
Balrogs beat it into the dust. Or Glorfindel’s hushed recounting of the last
stand of the Men of Dor-lómin and how they held the rearguard so that the
Gondolindrim could escape. What became of them, Erestor did not know. Word
had not reached Gondolin of the brothers’ fate. These events Erestor knew
would not be forgotten, they needed no written counting.
Erestor knew not what would
become of them now. Turgon was High King of the Noldor, and the boy
Ereinion, Fingon’s heir, was safe on the Isle of Balar, having escaped the
ruin of the Havens. But he did know that Morgoth’s eyes were now seeking
Gondolin. They could not stay hidden for much longer...
To be continued...