It had stopped snowing, but
fierce winter winds blew down the surrounding mountains, covering the valley
and creating enormous snow drifts. The wind tossed the freshly fallen flakes
into the air, creating a whirlwind of snow so that nothing could be seen but
white. None ventured out, the temperature too frigid for even Elves. It was
still, the only sound that of the wind howling. It was beautiful, but
dangerous if underestimated. The type of night better enjoyed indoors, where
it was nice and warm.
Inside one room with
frost-covered windows, a merry fire burned, chasing away the chill from
outdoors. The room, a family gathering place of the residents of the Haven
known as Imladris, was occupied by the valley’s Lord, his twin sons, and a
most valued advisor and friend. The room was silent, as the echoes of that
advisor’s tale died down.
Lord Elrond, ruler, healer,
and guardian of the Great Ring, Vilya, could have used the Ring of Sapphire,
of Air, to hold away winter’s bitter touch from his beloved valley, but he
did not do so, preferring instead to allow the season’s chill to descend.
Curled upon a thick rug in
front of the blazing fire, Elladan and Elrohir allowed only a moment of
silent reflection after the story they had just been told before their eager
voices broke the quiet. Their impatient questions had Elrond raising a brow
in amusement at his trusted advisor, and Erestor only snorted in reply. His
gaze and attention was internal, though his eyes seemed focused on the red
and gold of the flames.
It had come to this, Erestor
thought. His life’s history condensed to an evening’s winter tale for two
enthusiastic Elflings. How can one reduce the heartaches and joys that one
lives through into a story; how to show them the devastation of losing
family, loved ones, and friends? The history could be studied in books and
retold in lessons of lore, but it was the feelings that changed a history;
made it more real, for the teller and the listener.
Taking the twins and even
Elrond through his history had brought back many memories for Erestor, and
he knew the ghosts would haunt him the rest of the night. But the twins’
persistent questions finally pierced through Erestor’s self-reflection.
“But what about Glorfindel?”
their enthusiastic voices cried, as their glances swung from Erestor to the
equally silent figure leaning against the room’s open door.
Erestor too glanced toward
the doorway. For a moment he saw a flash of that dazzling beauty and power
that stunned everyone on first glance of Glorfindel, but he quickly made his
features blank. It would not do to be caught gaping at his friend in such a
There he stood; Glorfindel,
reborn Elf, Lord of the House of the Golden Flower, Captain of High King’s
Gil-galad’s forces, Captain of Imladris. Erestor knew not how long
Glorfindel had been standing there, nor how much he had heard. Anyone
glancing at the powerful figure in the doorway would know him touched by
something special, different than the other Elves in Middle-earth. Powerful
and beautiful, yes, but also, Glorfindel seemed to possess a primitive
innocence and an almost angelic presence. There was glow that emanated from
the Elda, and it drew all to him, even someone so used to gazing upon him as
Erestor could not tell the
twins the next part of the story. It was water under the bridge; now,
Glorfindel and Erestor were the best of friends and confidantes, but to this
very day, he was ashamed of his early reaction and treatment of the Elda.
No, let Glorfindel tell the tale of his rebirth and their reunion. Erestor
could take it - after all, had not Glorfindel just listened to Erestor’s
side of their strife-ridden beginnings?
Glorfindel grinned from the
doorway and before joining Erestor on the floor in front of the fire, poured
himself a goblet of rich, red wine. Then taking up a space close to his
friend, Glorfindel turned his attention to the twins. It was Elrohir’s eager
questions that he first addressed. Did they, Erestor and he, put aside their
differences and become the best friends that the twins knew them to be this
Glorfindel chuckled and
glanced at Erestor from the corner of his eye, earning a sharp elbow for the
amusement he showed at his friend’s expense. Glancing back at the twins, he
shook his head. “That is not the way to begin this tale, first we must start
from the beginning.” Faces excited and earnest, the twins lay upon their
stomachs, side by side, identical faces cupped in the palms of their hands.
Glorfindel took a healthy
swallow of his beverage. “I did not immediately return to Middle-earth, as
you both should know from Erestor’s lessons.”
At this remark, the twins
wore sheepish expressions; it was a well-known fact that it was almost
impossible to get the young Peredhil heirs to sit still long enough for a
Glorfindel permitted a small
laugh to escape before he continued with his serious tale. “When I was
released from Mandos’ care, I was returned to Valinor. I cannot say how much
time I spent there, but I did not return to Middle-earth until the Year of
Dread. The Fëanturi decided that I would benefit most from some healing and
insight that could be gained in Irmo’s gardens.” Glorfindel’s eyes grew
unfocused and his face wore a dreamy expression. His voice, when it spoke
next, had an almost reverent quality to it. “In all of Arda, there is no
fairer place than Lórien.”
It took a touch upon his arm
from Erestor before Glorfindel drew back to himself and refocused his
attention on the twins and his tale.
“I also cannot tell you why
the Valar chose for me to remain there, but I have my suspicions. You see,
we, the Eldar, and indeed all of Eru’s children were given free will.
Because of their great love for us, it saddens the Valar to see that free
will result in unhappiness or despair.” Glorfindel looked down at the floor,
and Erestor saw misery and regret on his friend’s face.
Perhaps sharing their story
was not the best thing for Glorfindel, Erestor realized; he had thought all
that pain and regret far behind them, buried in their past.
Glorfindel seemed to shake
off his melancholy and took up his tale again. “For most of my first life, I
blamed many of my short-comings on the failures of my parents. They did not
teach me how to love, have pity, or show patience. They did not value true
friendship or know how to be honest and forthright with one another. All
these qualities, or my lack there of, I blamed on my parents, but that was
just an easy excuse. There were good examples around me, many chances for me
to learn how to be an honest, caring friend or an open and joyous Elf who
saw every day a reason for living in Eru’s great gifts.”
Glorfindel turned and looked
at Erestor, and giving him a special smile, one that was reserved only for
his friend. “Ecthelion was an amazing Elf. He knew how to love, to live. He
was my friend, but I was never a very good friend to him. My King Turgon was
a wise and honorable Elf, and Lady Idril the picture of grace and kindness.
I had these great examples I could have learned from. Oh, I know what could
be said… what about my early life, when I was still an impressionable
Elfling, a time when we learn our life’s lessons?” He grinned at the rapt
eyes locked on him, the twins hung upon Glorfindel’s every word.
Glorfindel placed a hand on
Erestor’s shoulder. “But you see, I had someone who had always been there
for me, someone who could have taught me the most precious gift that Eru
gives us - friendship.”
Even before Glorfindel had
finished speaking, the twins were shouting out Erestor’s name, and even
Elrond burst into laughter at their excitement.
Erestor nudged Glorfindel
hard with a sharp little elbow, trying to get the Elda to stop laughing and
continue with his story; the night was not getting any younger. Glorfindel’s
arm curled from around Erestor’s shoulder until he was hugging the advisor
against his side. “Yes,” he told the twins. “It was Erestor, who despite
many a stupid action on my part, stuck with me.”
Erestor frowned. Now that was
not entirely true. He had not been quite so welcoming when Glorfindel had
returned to Middle-earth!
Elladan quickly noticed his
favorite tutor’s frown and not liking to see any of his family sad, sought
to bring a smile back to Erestor’s face. “So you said sorry and then Erestor
showed you how to be a good friend?” Elladan asked, hoping to move the story
along and past whatever had upset the advisor.
Glorfindel followed Elladan’s
gaze, also noticing the frown Erestor now wore. Giving him one last tight
squeeze, Glorfindel released his friend. “I wish I could say that was how it
happened, but I am afraid it took many a visit to Lórien’s gardens and many
a talk with the spirits there for me to learn that lesson.”
Erestor could see that the
great fire was dying down, and a glance at Elrond confirmed the growing
lateness of the hour. Erestor nudged Glorfindel with his hip and at the
Elda’s glance, faked a large yawn. Glorfindel rolled his eyes. Erestor
nodded toward the twins, whose heavy grey eyes were blinking more and more
often as they fought off the need for bed. “I have an early trip tomorrow
and need my rest,” Erestor offered, knowing that mentioning bed time would
send the pair into a stubborn quest to deny them all some rest this night.
Glorfindel’s face became
impassive at the mention of Erestor’s trip and he felt the familiar dread in
his gut at the excitement that appeared in his friend’s eyes. But he also
could see in Elrond’s eyes the agreement with Erestor’s decision to call a
halt to the evening.
After many promises to
continue his story another night, the twins were finally persuaded to
retire. Erestor followed the pair out of the study to ready himself for his
journey in the morn, leaving only Elrond and Glorfindel to gather their
empty glasses and put the room to rights.
For a moment, Elrond watched
Glorfindel silently bank the fire; he had seen the look flash across the
blond’s face at mention of Erestor’s leaving. “He looks forward to these
trips of his,” was all Elrond finally said, hoping perhaps Glorfindel would
open up to him.
Glorfindel glanced quickly at
his Lord’s face, and seeing the compassion in those wise grey eyes, he
replied, “He has a restlessness in him that he never had in Gondolin. I was
always the one who was not happy where I was at or doing what I was doing.”
Elrond took a chance. “Mayhap
if you told him what else you learned about yourself and your feelings while
in Irmo’s gardens?” he offered. He was not sure what the Elda’s reaction
would be, but Elrond ‘was’ sure of what he had often seen in the blond’s
Glorfindel’s face whitened
and he looked away, turning his back to Elrond. “I know not what you mean,
and besides, you know whom he goes to see.”
Elrond crossed the room; he
did not touch Glorfindel, only paused beside him, saying his piece before
leaving. “If you revealed what else you discovered in the gardens, perhaps
that too would change.”
Glorfindel stood silent,
stunned, in the now empty room.
To be continued...