Always Been There
Chapter TwentyOne

The Song of Tuor

 

From "The Shaping of Middle-Earth":

 

Then the magic drifted from me and that music loosed its bands--

Far, far-off, conches calling--lo! I stood in the sweet lands,

And the meadows were about me where the weeping willows grew,

Where the long grass stirred beside me, and my feet were drenched

with dew.

Only the reeds were rustling, but a mist lay on the streams

Like a sea-roke drawn far inland, like a shred of salt sea-dreams.

'Twas in the Land of Willows that I heard th'unfathomed breath

Of the Horns of Ylmir calling--and shall hear them till my death.

 

Submitted by TinfangWarble

http://www.councilofelrond.com/index.php

 

 

 

510 F.A.

Gondolin

 

 

 

 

Erestor climbed the south wall and sat next to Glorfindel.

 

“You are late,” the blond said. “Where is Ecthelion?” Glorfindel passed the bottle of rich wine he had been drinking from, and Erestor drank thirstily.

 

“He is still upon the south wall. His relief was late, but he will be along.” Erestor replied.

 

Erestor sighed tiredly. The preparations for the Gates of Summer festival had taken much of his time, and he was grateful that his duties were over. This yearly tradition of theirs - Glorfindel, Ecthelion, and his - of greeting the dawn upon the walls a heady beverage their only accompaniment, was something Erestor looked forward to all year long.  That they often they spent the entire night in silence did not take away from its pleasure for Erestor. Many of their friends questioned the trio’s unusual actions, that they sought and found pleasure in simply being together without other motives was astonishing to many.

 

With those thoughts occupying his mind, Erestor broke the silence. “Think it strange the three of us here like this every year?” he asked Glorfindel, eyes trained on the stars in the night sky.

 

He noticed Glorfindel’s glance but did not return it. He wanted to hear what the blond had to say. Erestor had his own opinions on the subject, but he and Glorfindel had never discussed their companionship; it was just something that seemed to happen naturally.

 

 

Glorfindel did not answer Erestor’s question; instead, he shocked Erestor with what he did speak of.

 

“I was very cruel to you as a child.”

 

Erestor winced at Glorfindel’s matter-of-fact tone, and he could not help but stare at the blond in shock. The silence built between them until Glorfindel turned toward Erestor and looked him in the eye. Erestor could see the regret on the Elda’s face.

 

“I was a very unhappy child, Erestor, and I was terribly jealous of you.”

 

Glorfindel’s words were heavy with regret and shame, but Erestor’s mind was frozen on what the blond said. ‘Jealous?’

 

“Why?” was all Erestor could say, stunned, and despite time and distance from that past, hurt.

 

“My Ada was not easy to live with Erestor; he had very set ideas on what I was to do and to accomplish. But while he had no problem holding you up as an example of academic achievement, Vala forbid I should build a friendship with you.” Glorfindel’s words were self-mocking and Erestor felt a flash of hate for Glorfindel’s Ada, but he remained silent, letting Glorfindel unburden his soul like he seemed to need to.

 

“I had no problem pleasing him with my warrior skills, but it was excelling in the classroom that he constantly found fault with me. You were the standard that we all were held to, and everyone in Tirion knew that you were the smartest of Elflings. It enraged my Ada to hear the councilors and even the King speak of your intelligence.”

 

Glorfindel touched Erestor for the first time since that foolish drunken night so long ago and laid a hand upon Erestor’s knee.

 

“I know it is no excuse for the way I treated you, but I am sorry, Erestor.” The touch was brief, but Erestor was thankful for it, for that touch alone reassured him of the sincerity of Glorfindel’s words.

 

He was not sure Glorfindel had told him the complete tale, but it did ease some of the hurt that, despite his age, still lingered from his childhood. What could he say except, “Thank you, Glorfindel.” That seemed to be all the blond needed, for he turned back to look up into the night sky, and the silence between them became comfortable once more.

 

*~*

Cirith Thoronath

Eagles’ Cleft...

 

 

“Why?” Erestor whispered as he stared down at the yellow flowered-covered mound. ‘Why did this have to happen?’ There was nothing left, they were gone; his friends, his companions from childhood, those he had braved the Crossing with, who had comforted him when his parents had died. Could one still be standing and breathing in and out and still be alive? Should he not feel something?

 

There were no words he could say as he stood frozen over Glorfindel’s grave. Erestor had not seen Ecthelion’s fall, but Glorfindel had told him of their friend’s brave battle and of his death. Erestor had been numb from that moment on, racing through the burning streets of his home with blood and death all ‘round them. So few had made it this far, and then he had to watch Glorfindel, brave shining Glorfindel, battle the demon sent after them. He had not been able to call out, to comprehend the fall; it was not until Thorondor appeared from the abyss carrying Glorfindel’s burned and broken body that the truth had hit Erestor. His eyes had believed, but his frozen heart refused to...

 

Tuor placed a hand upon Erestor’s shoulder. “We must go forward, or their sacrifice will have been for naught.” Tuor’s words were gentle and the Man’s heartache could be heard in his voice, but all Erestor could do was stare at him in disbelief.

 

‘Go forward to what?’ he suddenly wanted to scream. There was nothing left. Erestor did not answer, nor did he move; instead, his eyes lifted to the direction of his home, the black smoke over his once fair city curled up into the heavens. It spoke the truth to Erestor; his home, his friends, were no more. All they could do was numbly push on...

 

 

*~*

 

Nan-tathren

The Land of Willows

 

 

The nightmares were always the same: running through burning streets, the air filled with steam from the burning fountains of Gondolin, the path littered with the dead, Elves that should have been immortal, lying defiled...

 

He would wake, chest heaving, Glorfindel’s and Ecthelion’s names on his lips. Erestor curled up in a fetal position, clutching his chest. The guilt was crippling. He had done as Glorfindel ordered; he had run straight to Idril’s hidden way, stopping for nothing and for no one. That is what he could not live with; so many perished and he had run. Glorfindel and Ecthelion had fought heroically, dying so that their people, and Erestor, could escape.

 

What had he done?

 

The night air filled with the sound of Elven voices raised in mourning song. They sang of the fall of their beautiful city, of the loss of their beloved King and of their heroes, but Erestor could not join in. He knew he should get off the ground and join them. Idril had lost her father, and many others family members and mates, but Erestor could not make himself rise and leave his self-imposed isolation.

 

Erestor had never before questioned his worth, but he did now. He knew nothing could have prepared them for Maeglin’s betrayal, but Erestor’s bitterness would not let him rest. He had known of Maeglin’s extra journeys in the mines, of his ignoring the King’s orders not to leave the leaguer of Gondolin, but Erestor said nothing. He had questioned in his mind the sudden turn-around of the Lord’s behavior. After their dark conversation that night in Erestor’s office, he had expected to hear more of Maeglin’s scorn for Tuor and see the darkness that would cloud Maeglin’s features. But the Lord had gone about with a smile, and though Erestor knew that smile to be false, still he said nothing.

 

No suspicions did he raise, not even with Ecthelion and Glorfindel, and when the time came, he did not defend his city, but ran... Erestor did not think he could bear this burden. His faer cried out for healing, but he ignored it and his thoughts grew darker still. The idea to take ship and leave this cursed land occurred to him, but the thought of facing the Elves of Valinor and of them knowing his failure was too much; he was a coward. At best, he could stay in Middle-earth and serve, if anyone would want his service.

 

Caught up in his own misery and self-pity, Erestor did not hear another approach; it was only when Legolas’ voice came close to his head that he uncurled and sat up.

 

“You do their sacrifice a disservice,” was all the Lord of the House of the Tree said. Legolas sat still, legs curled under him, next to Erestor, eyes thoughtfully trained on the scribe.

 

Erestor rubbed his hands across his tear-dampened face. He avoided Legolas’ eyes, his clenched hands in his lap. “How do you go on?” he asked brokenly.

 

Legolas looked down and laid a comforting hand on Erestor’s arm. “By remembering that they died so that *we* could go on.” Legolas rose and with one last look at Erestor, he rejoined the feast for the fallen.

 

Erestor looked up to the sky with clear eyes. He could see what appeared to be several new stars, and he hoped that those bright lights above were his friends. He remembered Glorfindel turning toward him after seeing the red lights and hearing the screams of the invaders. How the first thing the golden Lord had done was to send Erestor to safety.

 

Erestor felt the tears start anew as he remembered what Glorfindel had told him Ecthelion’s last words; before the Lord of the Fountain had fallen, he had asked Glorfindel if Erestor had survived.  Erestor thought of his King, the same Elf who had comforted him after the passing of his parents; he recalled the faces of his fellow councilors and remembered the joy of his work.

 

 

Erestor allowed himself to shed tears for those lost, but not for himself. Legolas was right...  he did need to honor his friends. And to do that, he needed to go forward, living for all of them, his own life a tribute to their sacrifice.

 

Filled with new resolve, Erestor rose from the ground and went to join the singing refugees from Gondolin.

 

 

TBC...

 

 

A/N: Many wonderful and talented authors had written of Gondolin’s fall, and done so, emotional and detailed accounts. I did not want to try and match their works, so this was my approach to that event.

To be continued...