Always Been There
Chapter Twenty Two

Here ends the Silmarillion. If it has passed from the high and the beautiful to darkness and ruin, that was of old the fate of Arda Marred; and if any change shall come and the Marring be amended, Manwë and Varda may know; but they have not revealed it, and it is not declared in the dooms of Mandos.

 

 

The Silmarillion

Page 255

 

 

 

 

 

 

Haven of Sirion

First Age sometime between 560 and 583

 

 

 

 

 

“We are too late!” Erestor spat, his face twisted with rage and grief.

 

The scene about them was one of nightmares; Elves lay slaughtered, killed at the hands of other Elves, the blood of their kin spilled upon the ground once more. Low cries and whimpers could be heard from the few – far too few - who remained alive. Smoke from burning homes clouded the sky and the very ground was red with spilled blood.

 

High King Gil-galad’s face bore much the same expression of horror and fury. Despite the strong winds and able sails of Círdan’s ships, they had arrived too late to help the people of Sirion; the survivors could be counted on one hand.

 

Healers rushed about attempting to find other survivors and aid the badly injured. Erestor swallowed the bile that arose, as he looked upon the last of his people, dead. There were precious few now left from the destruction of Gondolin, and for a moment, Erestor felt a flash of paralyzing guilt that he had not been to help defend his people.

 

Erestor froze, his eyes and mind seizing on the bodies that he did *not* see among the dead. He moved quickly to the High King’s side, unmindful of the other Elf’s station, gripped Gil-galad’s arm tightly. “The twins,” he exclaimed, then moved away quickly shouting for Gil-galad’s captain of the guard.

 

Gil-galad and Círdan rushed to the advisor’s side. Erestor turned haunted eyes upon them. “They have found no trace of twins,” he said, his gaze turning away and falling on an Elf who lay moaning near by. Unmindful, frantic in his efforts, Erestor fell on his knees beside the injured ellon and grasped his shoulders tightly, lifting the poor Elf off the ground.

 

“The gwanún, where are they?” he demanded. Erestor did not notice the pain he caused the ellon or the fact that his own hands now were covered in blood.

 

When groans were the Elf’s only answer, Erestor shook the Elf, demanding yet again to know the whereabouts of the twins. But the fallen ellon could not answer; injured and in pain, he sought only to pull free from Erestor’s bruising hold.

 

Gil-galad finally pulled Erestor away from the Elf and healers rushed to the hurt ellon’s side. Erestor stared down numbly at the blood covering his hands. He took no notice that Gil-galad still held tightly to him. There was nothing more they could do here. The only recourse left to them was to gather the fallen and bury the dead. With tears in their eyes, the High King’s warriors moved about the grounds’, though brave and stout, the sight before them moved even the most hardened to cry.

 

Gil-galad leaned down and whispered softly to his councilor. “We must take what is left of our people to safety, Erestor. Come,” he urged the grief-stricken advisor. “We will find Elros and Elrond.”

 

 

Erestor followed numbly wherever his King led him. Deep inside, he could not shake the feeling of failure. Twice now, he had been of little use to his people. Erestor recalled the words he had spoken to Idril and Tuor when they pressed him to stay among the refugees of Gondolin who had joined themselves with the remnant of Doriath. ‘I am no farmer or sailor,’ Erestor had said. ‘I cannot create and sell the fruits of my labors. I grew of age in a King’s courts and only know how to do and to be one thing, and that is an advisor. No, I cannot stay; my path lies with the new High King.’

 

And so, Erestor had come into Gil-galad’s service and quickly moved through the ranks to become the King’s most knowledgeable and trusted councilor. Only with those remnants of his former home did Erestor truly feel at peace, but he never stayed, always feeling that his place and best purpose lay in serving the High King.

 

 

But he never lost contact with what remained of his friends from Gondolin, and of his Lady Idril. Their bond from youth remained strong, and into his heart had Erestor long ago taken her child Eärendil, who became fast in friendship with Círdan and made many a visit to the Isle of Balar. Erestor could still recall his pain as he watched the great ship Eärrámë carry Tuor and Idril away toward the West.

 

He had journeyed back to the Havens as Gil-galad’s representative and watched joyously as Eärendil took to wife Elwing the White. Erestor celebrated with the young parents when their twins were born, and he came often to visit the pair, finding some amount of joy in the new life that sprung from the tragedy of Gondolin. The excitement that only Elflings can bring brought new heart to Erestor, and he had eagerly promised to act as their teacher when the twins came of age.

 

Little did Erestor recall of the return trip to the Isle of Balar. By this time, word had reached them of the young twins fate and of Elwing. One of the few survivors upon regaining consciousness reported seeing Maglor ride away with the twins. Another poor soul, before passing into Mandos’ care, told them of Elwing’s fate and of casting herself into the sea. Messages were sent to Maglor demanding the release of the gwanûn, but the messages were either ignored or never reached Maglor. No sighting was reported of Vingilot, or her master Eärendil.

 

For the first time ever, Erestor lost his ability to think rationally and objectively. He raged for days, arguing with Gil-galad and Círdan, and finally beseeching them to send an army after Maglor to obtain the twins’ return. Even after receiving reports from the High King’s spies that the twins were being treated well, Erestor still added this grievance to the long list he held against the sons of Fëanor. From the death of his parents, the betrayal at the Helcaraxë, and the blood Erestor had seen spilled in the Havens of the Swans, he never forgave Fëanor or his sons.

 

There was little they could do except go about their business. The twins’ fate was, for the moment, out of their hands, and no sign or word did they receive of Eärendil. Erestor returned to his duties, but his mind would not loose its thoughts of Elros and Elrond.

 

In time, knowledge did come to the Elves of Middle-earth of the fate of their beloved mariner, shining so brightly in the night sky. But who is to say how the knowledge was imparted; mayhap it was Ulmo’s voice upon the Sea, or just a white bird that told them?

 

*~*

 

When Erestor departed Sirion for the Isle of Balar, Idril sent with him a letter of introduction to her cousin. Arriving at the King’s court, Erestor presented the letter and was immediately made welcome by Gil-galad and Círdan. Teaching the young King about his uncle’s kingdom and rule became Erestor’s first duties. The younger Elf soaked up all the stories of the Hidden Kingdom, and seeing this thirst for tales of the mysterious Gondolin, Erestor set about recording the history of the fair city so that none would ever forget its majesty or its gallant heros. It was the last honor he could do his King and friends, preserve their memory for the ages.

 

Bringing back so many memories of his life in Gondolin freed Erestor in a way. He could clearly see, once written on parchment, his mistakes and false ideas about a great many things. Alone in his room at night, he wept over missed opportunities and things he regretted never speaking of.

 

Erestor had always been proud of his intellect, having as a child needed something that set him apart, but he had been vain and egotistical also. The short-sightedness he displayed in turning away from any warrior’s craft was something he deeply regretted and was one of the first things he set about fixing. Círdan oversaw the young High King Gil-galad’s education, and that education included battle training and all manner of soldier’s arts. In these, Erestor joined his new Lord.

 

Taking up sword and bow, and even his preferred weapon, knives, brought many bittersweet memories to Erestor. If he had done this when presented the opportunity by Ecthelion and Glorfindel, could his one lone sword or bow have made a difference? It was a foolish and overblown idea, but one that Erestor could not banish from his thoughts as he lay alone in his bed each night. He had once had the finest warriors in Arda at his disposal and missed his chance. But also, he wondered, mayhap by learning weaponry, it could have brought him and Glorfindel closer?

 

This new passion to learn skills previously ignored did not make Erestor a warrior overnight, but in time, he became adequate with the sword and bow. It was, however, with knives that Erestor showed skill, quickly mastering and becoming a deadly wielder of the twin blades. As he became more confident, the grief eased; never again would he have to depend on others to protect him or those he cared for. Now he could do so himself.

 

Círdan saw clearly the blessing Erestor’s coming was, for now the Elf-lord could safely leave the King in another’s care and return his attentions to his beloved ships and the sea. Erestor’s able-bodied council and wisdom could help guide and support the young ruler, and that Gil-galad had developed a deep friendship with the advisor was also a boon. Erestor came to regard Gil-galad as closely as one would a brother. The pair continued their studies of lore and sparred together each day. Ideas and thoughts were exchanged between them, and Gil-galad even taught Erestor the fine art of card playing, including how to cheat.

 

Erestor could never recall feeling this close to another. Ecthelion had wanted more than Erestor’s friendship, and Glorfindel had never accepted the friendship Erestor had offered. But with the High King, he was appreciated, his advise and companionship wanted and asked for. Balar was not the large, sprawling court of Gondolin, where councilors shouted to be heard over one another. No, the Isle was small; the King’s court not really a court at all.  Círdan preferred quieter living and had deemed it best to foster Gil-galad in such surroundings away from strife and the plots that always seemed to be in form in larger royal courts.

 

In these surroundings, grief eased as time passed. As Erestor sat in his office going over a list of supplies, he paused for a moment to consider the warm feeling in his chest. That day, he decided he was happy.

 

 


 

To be continued...