Always Been There
Chapter Nineteen

First Age

c. 474

 

 

 

 

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 Arnoediad.

 

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 death.

 

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 Glorfindel’s eyes.

 

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.

FA. 474

 

 

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...