Always Been There
Glorfindel carefully lowered himself to his knees. The call to stop had been most welcome; he had not known how much longer he could have marched. Glorfindel’s weary gaze traveled about the camp. Their numbers had lessened by two more this morn, when a child and mother could not be awakened. The mood had been sad and bitter; none soon would forget the betrayal of Fëanor. As more of their loved ones made the journey to Mandos’ Halls, the fire and determination to keep moving forward grew stronger. Yet there were times when Glorfindel doubted he could. But then his eyes would fall on Erestor.
The slighter Elf had not faltered, nor cried out for help. His determination fueled Glorfindel’s, and a new admiration for the scribe filled Glorfindel’s breast. That his friend Ecthelion also felt admiration, and perhaps much more, Glorfindel was all too aware. His gaze, however, could not help but soften as he watched Erestor’s Nana gather her son into her arms and start to sing. Though her voice was rough in the cold, the words touched all hearts that listened.
When you walk through a storm,
The song allowed many a weary to rest...
The morning march was made in the thick, heavy fog of the Helcaraxë. Each was instructed to tie a rope to a partner, but despite Fingolfin’s efforts to keep everyone in formation, pairs drifted away from the rest; only the constant calling of names keeping them within earshot of their kin. Erestor gasped as Ecthelion slid to a knee, tripping while trying to climb the slippery ice. They tried to see, but even their Elven eyesight could not break through the fog, and their breaths of ice just added to the mist. Once atop an ice-hill, there was a moment of rest, then came the slide down. Over and over again, this pattern was repeated, the backs of their garments becoming wet and crusted with ice.
"W-what is the first thing you are going to do, Glorfindel? When we reach Middle-earth?" Erestor asked, his voice breaking and hoarse from the need to shout to be heard.
Glorfindel was silent, lost in thought about the first thing he wanted once away from this cursed ice. But Ecthelion broke the silence, his tone cheerful, and his words brought smiles to his two companions' faces. "I am going to build the biggest fire I possibly can, and then I am going to remove all my clothes and lay as close as I can to it without, of course, catching myself afire and just roast!" he joyously proclaimed, and several nearby laughed.
It was with that laughter ringing across the waves of mist that the first crack of the ice was heard. Everyone froze, not daring to move; too many of their kin had already fallen into the treacherous belly of the Helcaraxë. From his position at the front of the host, Fingolfin began calling for everyone to stay still. Then the smallest and lightest among them began slipping carefully through the group from the front to the back, attaching Elven rope to each person. Their every step was cautious, and all held their breaths as they were roped together.
The ropes had not made it far back through the line when the next crack of the ice sounded. The high, sharp splintering of the ice went on, and panic erupted. Cries and shouts to loved ones rang out, the loss of sight making it impossible to see where the ice had broken.
Erestor stood atop an ice-rise, his ears straining for a sound of his parents. Looking backwards, all he saw was Glorfindel. No others followed them. The screams became louder, and Turgon's cry of "Elenwë," was heard. Erestor scrambled down the ice hill, the sharp edges cutting his hands leaving behind Elven blood upon the ice, the next cry sending terror through his veins. The cry was almost drowned out by the crashing of waves as Erestor reached the edge of the land that had fallen into the sea. He heard his Nana call out again, " Hlárleru!"
"No, no, no," Erestor chanted as he ran along the new shoreline. "Nana, Ada?" he screamed.
Erestor spun around, hearing the shouts behind him, and raced over the ice to see Fingolfin and Finrod pull Turgon and Idril from the waters. Of Elenwë, there was no sign. Erestor knelt down next to the frozen pair. "Nana, Ada?" he asked in a whisper.
Turgon turned grief-stricken eyes upon the younger Elf. "I am sorry, Erestor, I could not reach them or my wife," he said, and then clutched his daughter tighter to him.
Erestor rose, frantic, and began stumbling along the edge of the shore, screaming his parent's' names, but no answering call was heard. Closer and closer he moved to the edge of the ice, eyes desperately searching for some sign in the rough waters. His hands reached out to the water, but they were useless, there was nothing to grasp. Strong arms wrapped about him as he started to cry. Trembling, he allowed Glorfindel to pull him back away from the edge, his eyes refusing to leave the icy waters were his parents lay.
Erestor did not know how long he knelt on the ice, eyes trained on the sea. His chest felt as if a large hole had been ripped in it. He did not feel the cold, or the solid arms that held him. He did not hear the words spoken by many who came to mourn his parents. Hlárleru and Firingë had been much loved; their loss touched all. Erestor was not aware when Turgon came and gathered him in his arms, carrying him and finally setting him down next to Idril. He did not feel the girls arms wrap about him as she sought to give comfort, the loss of her own Nana making her weep and cling tighter to Erestor.
Erestor rose when someone pulled him upright. He ate what was given to him, rested when stopped. But no more of the journey did he ever recall. He was numb, the bitter cold of the Helcaraxë no match for the frozen blood in his veins. All Erestor could think about was that it was his fault. His desire to see Middle-earth, to have a chance to make his own mark, be his own Elf without relying on his Ada's influence or position... this ambition cost his parents their lives. They would not have left Tirion had he spoken up, said "Stay," but he did not, and because they loved him and did not wish to be parted from him, they died. Never would he forgive himself for his selfishness.
Erestor traveled with Idril. Turgon's daughter looked after the pale silent Elf. But it was Ecthelion and Glorfindel who guarded the grieving Elf, who worried when he said not a word as at last Fingolfin's host stepped foot upon the Outer lands and left the horrors of the Helcaraxë behind. They had made it to Middle-earth.
To be continued...