Always Been There
Chapter Four

1493 Year of the Trees
Tirion on the Green Hill of Tķna

HlŠrleru did not have the chance to have that talk with Erestor. Strife had come among the Noldor, and at its head was FŽanor, corrupted by the evil of Melkorís words, he whom the Valar had forgiven and released from his prison. First it had been the claims of FŽanor against Fingolfin that his half-brother plotted to usurp their father's throne, and then the Kingís first-born began speaking against the Valar, urging his brethren to depart these shores to reclaim kingdoms in the East. Tirion was adrift in turmoil; at no time before had mistrust and deceit ruled the hearts of the Eldar.

HlŠrleru and Erestor despaired at FŽanorís words of unrest and could not credit them, but they were conflicted by their love of their King FinwŽ and would not speak out against their brightest star, no matter the poison spilling from his lips. FŽanor was then called before the Valar to answer for his deeds and words.

HlŠrleru burst through the door to his home, his face pale and strained. FiringŽ hurried to her mateís side, concerned. "What has happened? she cried.

"FŽanor has been banished from Tirion to his fortress at Formenos. His sons and King FinwŽ go with him." HlŠrleru accepted the comfort found in FiringŽís embrace.

"Do we go with them?" FiringŽ asked, but already in her heart, she knew the answer.

"Ah," was all HlŠrleru could say, his loyalty to his King FinwŽ leaving him no other choice.

So it was that Erestor and his family followed FŽanor and their King into exile. For twelve years they would dwell in Formenos. They were present when FŽanor cast Melkor out of Formenos, and not a one who witnessed it did not feel a cold brush of doom.

********

Erestor joined his Ada in the small garden of Formenos. Taking a seat, they both were silent, each rejoicing on this day of festival when the light of the beloved Two Trees mingled. Unknown to them, across the field of Valinor came two bent on the destruction of their cherished Trees. The ground shook and cries rang out across Valinor as Melkor smote each Tree to its core, wounding them deeply. Chaos covered Valinor, and the Valar cried out as Melkorís servant Ungoliant sucked the sap from the Trees, poisoning their very roots. For the first time ever, darkness covered Valinor, and all trembled in fear.

Scrambling and crying in the darkness, all made their way toward the Two Trees. The circle grew as more Elves arrived to stare in shocked horror and heartbreak at the destruction of all that was good and holy in Valinor. The Elves watched in silence with tears upon their faces as Yavanna approached the Trees. They held their breaths in hope as she laid hands upon the Trees' blackened and poisoned bark. Among the Elves also came the other Valar, with as much heartache and sorrow, and they gathered around the Trees' creator, looking also with hope.

Yavannaís voice was soft and as sad as the many tears that gathered upon the ground on Valinor. "Even for those who are the mightiest under Ilķvatar there is some work that they may accomplish once, and once only. The Light of the Trees I brought into being, and within Eš, I can do so never again. Yet had I but a little of that light I could recall life to the Trees, ere their roots decay, and the malice of Melkor confounded."

The Valar turned and ManwŽís eyes sought those of FŽanorís. "Will you then, FŽanor, unlock your jewels and give unto Yavanna some of their light?" The King of the Valar knew in his heart FŽanorís answer, but the Elf had to be asked.

"Nay, I will not," FŽanor said firmly, his voice heavy in its bitterness. He ignored the gasps around him and turned, leaving the Trees to their death.

The Valar could feel the confusion, hurt and torn loyalties of the Noldor about them, and with a heavy heart, ManwŽ urged them back to their homes.

Erestor and his family returned to their rooms, their steps heavy and silence between them. None knew what to say, and the dark days were passed with troubled hearts. Not even the coming of the Valarís gifts, Isil and Anar, could lighten the hearts of the Noldor. Though many secretly rejoiced in their creation, fear of angering their unstable FŽanor held them from expressing it.

But Melkor was not finished with FŽanor, and he again came in secret, this time to Formenos. FinwŽ tried to defend his sonís creation, but Melkor struck him down and stole the Silmarils. The Noldorís cries were heard across Valinor, FŽanorís echoing the loudest and he cursed Melkor and renamed him Morgoth. Now they listened, their hearts heavy with the loss of their King as FŽanor bid them follow and return home.  "After Morgoth to the ends of the Earth," FŽanor cried his voice, heavy with grief and anger. War was declared on Melkor, and in Middle-earth it would be fought.

No counsel could any offer FŽanor, and HlŠrleru did not try. His heart was broken at the loss of FinwŽ, who he had held above any other. Erestor could only stand with his family and watch as FŽanor and his sons swore a horrid oath.

"Be he foe or friend, be he foul or clean, brood of Morgoth or bright Vala, Elda or Maia or Aftercomer, Man yet unborn upon Middle earth, neither law, nor love, nor league of swords, dread nor danger, nor doom itself-"

Erestor could hear no more. Tightly he clasped his hands over his ears as he watched FŽanor and his sons swear away their fates. Across the blazing fires, his eyes met those of Glorfindelís, and across his old friends face, he could read his own horror at the future spreading out before them. Erestor could not help the gladness in his heart as Glorfindel also said nay to the oath. That they would follow was not in question, but the very doom that gripped their hearts at FŽanorís words prevented many from swearing as he had.

Erestor could not help the fear that gripped his heart at the haste they were given to pack and make ready. Little time for reflection or thought did FŽanor give his people. Erestor helped his Nana gather the last of their provisions. He insisted that she take a seat as he loaded their items into packs.

"I worry for your Ada," FiringŽ said. "His heart has not mended at FinwŽís loss, and this plan of FŽanorís...  it frightens me, Erestor."

Erestor came to kneel next to his Nanaís chair, and he took her cold hands into his own, trying to rub some warmth back into them. "Then stay, Nana." At FiringŽís look of shock, Erestor hurried with his words. "My heart tells me sorrow awaits us on this journey. I can feel it like icy breath down my very spine. If you ask it of him, he will stay, Nana," Erestor implored, his eyes begging FiringŽ to at least try.

FiringŽís eyes filled with tears, and she embraced Erestor tightly. "I have tried, ion, I have triedÖ" she whispered.

Erestor said no more, only held tightly to his Mother.

********

Erestor stood upon the great stairs of Tirion gazing at the only home he had ever known. Deep in his heart, he knew he would not see its shining beauty again for uncounted Ages. So engrossed was he in memorizing each spiral, each tower, that he did not hear when Glorfindel joined him.

"Do you feel as I do?" the blond asked.

Erestor gazed with surprise on his childhood friend. He and Glorfindel had not spoken a word to the other for many years. But he knew of what Glorfindel spoke.

"Ah, I too feel as though I shall never see this glory again," he answered, his voice soft and sad.

Glorfindel only nodded, and turned and walked away. Erestor watched his old friend's back sadly. There was something else lost in the gardens of Aman. He had heard of the strife within Glorfindelís own house. Of how Glorfindelís Ada had refused to join with 'mad FŽanor' as he called him, and how son and father had harsh words over Glorfindelís decision to follow the son of FinwŽ. At least, Erestor thought, my own parents shall be with me. His heart ached for his once-close friend. Before he could change his mind, Erestor called out for Glorfindel to wait.

"Glorfindel," he called and ran down to where the blond had halted. He drew abreast of other Elf, hesitating now that he was face to face.

He looked into the blondís curious sky-blue eyes. "If you have no other plans, Glorfindel, you may travel with us," he offered.

Glorfindelís smile still had the power to make Erestorís heart happier. "I thank you, Erestor, but Ecthelion and I shall make this journey together."

Erestor smiled, but as the blond walked away, it disappeared from his face. He had offered, had reached out a hand, but once more, it was not enough for the blond. It seemed Erestor would never learn his lesson where Glorfindel was concerned.

To be continued...