Always Been There
Erestor and Hlárleru listened with heavy hearts as the debate raged regarding the path to take to Middle-earth. Hlárleru said nothing as Fingolfin, Turgon and Finrod spoke angrily, urging the Noldor to caution and calm, but he did not move to Fëanor’s side when it became obvious that the Noldor were divided in this quest. Erestor turned to his Ada solemnly. "I will travel with Fingolfin’s host, Ada." Erestor lowered his voice, beseeching Hlárleru to agree. "I can sense the fires of madness here, Ada, and it does not bode well."
And so the divided host set forth, and many of the noblest and wisest of the Noldor in Fingolfin’s host looked back behind them to their fair city, until the lamp of the Mindon Eldaliéve was lost in the night. The main host led by Fëanor hastened along the coast of Elendë; not once did they turn back for a last glimpse of Tirion on the green hill of Túna, the home they were all leaving.
Erestor held his Nana’s hand tightly as Firingë wept silent tears. He looked about and felt his heart gladden at the sight of Glorfindel and Ecthelion among Fingolfin’s host. He had feared that his hotheaded former friend would be caught up in the fire of Fëanor’s speech. He could not say why, but Erestor feared that Fëanor’s desire for vengeance would lead them all to doom. Erestor did not see Glorfindel’s family among the group, nor Ecthelion’s Nana, and his heart ached for them having to make this journey without the comfort of their kin. Erestor did not think he could do so without his Ada and Nana beside him. Erestor caught Ecthelion’s eye and the other Elf smiled at him before turning away.
Erestor and Ecthelion’s relationship had changed from the day that Erestor presented Ecthelion with his first flute. Ecthelion had been kinder and friendlier when their paths had crossed, and often Erestor would catch the other Elf’s eyes upon him.
Fëanor was determined to reach Alqualondë and persuade the Teleri to join in their rebellion. Feanor had decided the best way to reach Middle-earth and not face the ice of the Helcaraxë was to cross by water, and for that he needed the Teleri's ships. Erestor had asked his Ada why Fingolfin, despite speaking out against this quest, would now so eagerly follow Fëanor. Hlárleru had replied that if asked, Fingolfin would say it was his bond to Fëanor, his oath to follow wherever Fëanor led. But Erestor knew the real reasons. Fingon had urged Fingolfin to go, and also because he would not be parted from his people, leaving them to the rash counsel of Fëanor.
Erestor watched from his Nana’s side as Fëanor’s group grew smaller and smaller in the distance. He knew not what drove them, but the feelings of dread grew in him. Fingolfin’s host traveled on, their pace steady but not in the frantic manner of Fëanor. Erestor glanced to his right, the image of Glorfindel and Ecthelion catching and holding his attention. The golden haired Elf was whispering anxiously to his friend, but Ecthelion was shaking his head negatively. Glorfindel appeared frustrated. His angry eyes rose and caught Erestor’s gaze. The blond Elf glared at Erestor, as if it was Erestor's fault Ecthelion denied what he asked. Erestor shook his head, perplexed. He looked away from Glorfindel's burning blue eyes into Ecthelion’s grey orbs.
The dark-haired Elf was watching Erestor closely, his eyes intense. Erestor looked away from the pair, uncomfortable suddenly with their attention. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw them move toward him and his parents.
Ecthelion paused, with Glorfindel trailing behind him in front of Hlárleru. "Híren," Ecthelion said, bowing before Erestor’s Ada. "If you have no objections, Glorfindel and I would like to travel with you and your family."
Erestor’s heart clenched. Now he knew what had angered the blond. Obviously, Glorfindel had wanted no part of Ecthelion’s idea to accompany Erestor’s family. Erestor’s eyes nervously flirted from Glorfindel’s impassive gaze to Ecthelion’s own soft one. Hlárleru nodded for the pair to join them, only throwing one concerned glance at his ion.
They marched on through the twilight bathing Alqualondë. It was Fingon and the foremost front of Fingolfin’s hosts that first heard the sounds of clashing swords and the cried of strife.
Unease spread through the group. The warriors moved forward, sending the woman and children to the rear for protection. That danger was upon them in the Blessed Realm still was a shock, but the attacks of Morgoth were not forgotten. The sight that met their stunned eyes upon arrival in the Haven of the Swans brought many cries of fright and horror. The sight of Noldor battling Teleri was too appalling to believe. It happened so quickly…
Erestor could hear Fingon and other cry out as Noldor were thrown from white ships. He saw the warriors rush forward to aid their kin. Many Teleri lay slain and not a few Noldor as well. Erestor saw his Nana shudder and turn her face away, hiding her face against the horror of Elves killing Elves. Hlárleru drew his mate close, his own face twisted in horror. Erestor ignored his Ada’s cry and moved forward, slipping around and between fighting warriors. Erestor heard Olwë’s voice as he roared to Fëanor, as the two Lords battled, "You have no right to our ships!"
No! Erestor thought in terror. He, like the others in Fingolfin’s host, had thought the Teleri responsible for the attack, perhaps on the Valar’s orders to stop the Noldor’s march Never would he have thought Fëanor would steal their ships! Erestor looked around frantically. He had to find Glorfindel. He could not let his friend slay his own kin, thinking it was the Teleri’s aggression. Erestor turned and fled, searching every face and desperately seeking the familiar golden head. Erestor ducked the arrows that flew about him. He twisted this way and that, barely avoiding the swings and thrust of swords. Erestor saw Ecthelion engaged with a Teleri mariner, and as he sped past, he grabbed Ecthelion’s arm, dragging the other Elf behind. He knew not from where he drew the strength, but even as Ecthelion cried out and tried to pull away, he could not break Erestor’s hold on his arm.
Erestor looked back over his shoulder, eyes frantic. "We must find Glorfindel, Ecthelion. Fëanor started this. He is trying to steal their ships!" Erestor’s voice carried to a few of the fighting warriors around him, and as the confusion went on around them, some of the Noldor threw down their weapons as the meaning of Erestor's words became clear.
Erestor gasped as he spied Glorfindel. The blond was engaged in a fierce battle with two Teleri. Erestor called his name, and dropping Ecthelion’s arm, ignoring Ecthelion’s shout, he flew towards his friend. Glorfindel turned, barely avoiding a thrust to his middle. Too late he heard Erestor’s cry and saw the flash of black come between him and his foes. His sword already swinging forward, Glorfindel sharply pulled his arm aside, but it was too late. He watched in horror as his blade cut into Erestor’s arm.
Erestor felt the sharp slice of the sword, but he threw himself against the blond, wrapping his arms desperately around Glorfindel. He looked up into his friend’s stunned eyes, his own filled with tears. "Shed no more Elven blood, Glorfindel. Fëanor is to blame for this. The Teleri have done no wrong," Erestor whispered.
Ecthelion and Glorfindel carried the injured Erestor away from the fighting, protecting the smaller Elf in between their bodies. As the trio moved through the battle, they called out to their fellow Noldor, imploring them to stop this Kinslaying. Erestor let his Nana fuss and wrap his wound. He, Ecthelion, and Glorfindel stared down in horror as the Teleri were overcome and a great many slain. Too late was the true cause of this battle known. They were numb as they watched their kin begin rowing the bloodstained ships north along the coast, with Fëanor guiding them. Everyone on the ships and those on land could hear Olwë’s anguished cries to Ossë, begging for aid, but Ossë did not come for it was not permitted by the Valar that the Noldor be stopped by force. But Uinen wept for the mariners and the sea rose in fury.
The group that marched forward across the land was solemn, minds still too numb to process what had happened. Deep into the unmeasured night they marched, always with eyes turned toward the seas as the waves raged and tossed, crashing the white ships and sending many Noldor to a watery death.
Erestor traveled next to his parents with Glorfindel and Ecthelion still guarding them. His arm ached; the cloth that his mother had wrapped around the wound was soaked with blood. Erestor could not prevent a wince as he shifted his pack onto his other shoulder. Gently, the pack was lifted away from him, and in surprise he looked up into Glorfindel’s remorse-filled eyes.
Glorfindel added Erestor’s pack to his own. His voice was soft as he said, "I am sorry, Erestor. I never meant to hurt you."
Erestor smiled at his friend. "Twas nothing, Glorfindel. I know it was an accident. Thank you for carrying my pack." Erestor blushed as the blond continued to regard him.
"That was very brave, Erestor," Glorfindel’s voice held confusion, as if he could not figure out why Erestor had done as he did.
Ecthelion heard the conversation between the pair and slowed his steps until he was next to them. He looked at the smaller dark-haired Elf in gratitude. "Yes it was, Erestor. I thank you for saving me the burden of shedding Elven blood." Ecthelion looked away briefly, swallowing heavily, his eyes filled with so much sorrow. "At least my faer has been spared that," he whispered. Erestor and Glorfindel both looked down, their own hearts aching in shame, fear, and sadness for their fallen kin, Teleri as well as Noldor.
It was a heavy-hearted group that marched. They stopped at last in the northern confines of the Guarded Realm, upon the borders of Araman, which were cold and mountainous. Murmurs from the front of scared voices and whispers traveled through the hosts until all had halted and all eyes had turned to the dark figure standing high above them.
The mere sight of Mandos himself sent icy fear in every heart. They stood and listened in terror as the Valar pronounced the Doom of the Noldor.
Tears unnumbered ye shall shed;
Mandos’ voice was cold and terrible, and as the Noldor listened to his words, many wept in shame and dawning dread of their fates. And for Erestor, Glorfindel, and Ecthelion, childhood was over. Now they were thrust into adulthood carrying in their hearts the knowledge that they would never see home again.
To be continued...