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The Return of the Minstrel
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The Return of the Minstrel
by Soledad

Disclaimer: Not mine, all Tolkien’s, except the typos and the weird grammar. Sue me, and you get them all. Satisfied?

Rating: General, I guess

Author’s apologies:
This piece has been written to answer Casey’s Dagor Dagorad challenge, though I’m not sure that it fulfills all the challenge demands. But since my muse has abandoned me in all other areas, I was glad to get at least some inspiration. And I even managed to keep it short, this time. Quite an achievement, if you know my usual writing style.

I hope this stands alone – though knowing my ongoing tale "Innocence" and the 4th chapter of my Glorfindel-story might help.

The direct quotes are from "The Shaping of Middle-earth". I kept the older names like "Gods" and Fionwë… to a certain point. There are references to "Smith of Wootton Major" but those are not quoted directly.


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"About all the World are the Irulambar, or Walls of the World. They are as ice and glass and steel, being above all imaginations of the Children of Earth – cold, transparent, and hard. They cannot be seen, nor can they be passed, save by the Door of Night." (p. 245.)

"Morgoth is trust through the Door of Night into the outer dark beyond the Walls of the World, and a guard set for ever on that Door. The lies that he sowed in the hearts of Men and Elves do not die, [however], and cannot all be slain by the Gods but live on and bring much evil even to this day. Some also say that secretly Morgoth or his black shadow or spirit in spite of the Valar creeps back over the Walls of the World in the North and East and visits the world..." (p. 40.)

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
The Elven minstrel stands upon the desolate shore, beside the Sea of Windless Storms, looking forwards above the waves that roll silently out of Unlight like snow-clad hills to the long strands – forwards, where, beyond the Sea, the Door of Night is said to be found, at the utmost edge of the Black Marshes. He is waiting for the white ships to return from the battles that are fought there… have been fought there, ever since Morgoth was cast out into the Outer Dark.

He can remember this dreary place very well, though it has been uncounted Ages ago, in the forgotten time of his youth long gone, that he was brought here in a vision for the first time of his life. Now he is old, even for an Elf, though his face, noble and sad and beautiful beyond imagination, looks young like that of a still-growing elfling. Yet his long hair, silky and unbraided, is white like the freshly-fallen snow, and his wide, sea-hued eyes are haunted, and there is wisdom and sorrow in them, but no life.

Once he has been the most innocent of Elves and danced through life with a smile on his face like the sunlight and a song on his lips that could bring dead trees to blossom. Once he knew joys and sorrows and, above all else, love, that bound together body and heart and soul and made them as one; and he carried a light in his heart that eased the burdens of all those around him and could light up a rainy day.

Yet when the day came and his innocence was marred and the light in his heart quenched, he came over the Sea to seek healing, as that first vision had told him to do. He went to Mandos’ Halls voluntarily, for not even the Blessed Realm was able to rekindle the fire in his heart, and the song that filled his very being was brought to silence.

He lost count of how long it had been. Ever since then, he seems to have been standing upon these shores, waiting for the ships to return – waiting for the one he missed most, more even than his music, to return to him. Yet no peace has come to his heart in all these times, only even more sorrow, and the ships have not come.

He knows, one day they shall arrive. He saw it in his first vision, gifted upon him by Elentári, the White Queen of Stars, and once they have come, he will be able to leave this bleak place and follow the returning warriors into the echoing hills with the one he is waiting for. Then he shall be able to sing again.

One day, it will happen. Until then, he has to remain here, and wait, and watch.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
"When the World is much older, and the Gods weary, Morgoth will come back through the Door, and the last battle of all will be fought. Fionwë will fight Morgoth on the plain of Valinor, and the spirit of Túrin shall be beside him; it shall be Túrin who with his black sword will slay Morgoth; and thus the children of Húrin shall be avenged." (p. 40.)

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Time does not exist upon the shores of the Soundless Sea. The minstrel grows not weary on his lonely watchpost. He even stops remembering at some point along his endless guardianship.

What has been, does not matter any more.

What is coming, is not yet there. Only the endless string of singular moments, like a pearl necklace laid out alongside the shore.

Only in those moments does he exist.

Before and after, there is nothing. Only watchfulness and solitude.

He nearly misses the particular moment when the great white ship casts high upon the land, the waters falling back in foam without a sound.

Never during his whole guardianship has there been any sound.

He has come to understand that this is part of his penalty. For what could be harder upon a born minstrel than this soundless place?

Yet he understands the necessity to lay his very heart and soul bare in the silence.

To clean the wounds before they can heal.

The warriors on the ship are tall and powerful and terrible in their strong beauty, and there seems to be no end to their numbers. Their swords are shining and their sprear-heads are glittering in the ever-same grey twilight of these shores, and there is a piercing light in their keen eyes like white fire.

Fionwë, who is leading their endless rows, is mighty as the hills, and the light of Varda’s stars is gleaming in his eyes. On his side another great warrior marches, wearing a shining armour, damascened with cunning true-gold, and the likeness of the rayed Sun is sparkling upon his breast. His dark blue eyes are burning like living flames.

The minstrel knows he should remember this other warrior, but his memories are fading and confused – and this is not the one he is here to wait for.

So he remains silent and watches them motionlessly.

One by one, the Elven warriors leave the ship, marching as one after their leaders with firm, determined strides, their hard faces turned towards the hills. Then suddenly they lift up their great, ringing voices in a song of infinite sadness, and the shear beauty of it pierces the heart of the minstrel like an arrow. He fells upon his face in the wet, grey sand, his whole body shaking with soundless sobs.

He sees not as the host stops on its way, all the faces turning to him, and a warrior in the last row returns to his side. ’Tis a tall, dark-haired Elf, clad in simple grey garb and an unadorned mail-shirt, his clear, grey eyes clouded with loneliness and sorrow. He bends down to the minstrel, touching the ghostly white tresses hesitatingly.

"Linwë?(1)" he asks, uncertain of himself.

For in his sorrow-filled heart he keeps the image of a much younger Elf, one who had pale golden hair, shining like pure moonlight.

His voice, once-beloved and still oh so familiar, reaches the minstrel on the far-away place he has retired so long ago. A barren and very lonely place, inside of his own heart.

He rises to his knees and looks up to the face of the warrior, hesitating between hope and disbelief.

"You…" his voice, once the sweetest upon the face of Arda, is hoarse from not having it used so very long; ’’you have come…?"

The warrior shakes his head with a sad smile.

"I have always been here, melme. It was you who was not able to see me. Come with me now. ’Tis time for you to leave this place."

The minstrel takes the proffered hand and lets himself be pulled to his feet obediently, yet his eyes are still wary.

"Where are we going?" he asks.

The warrior looks at him gravely.

"To the Last Battle. Now the time has come for Arda to be re-made – or utterly destroyed, and we all with her. This is the day we have been waiting for since the Day of Awakening."

"I cannot go with you," the minstrel says sadly. "Never shall I touch a weapon again. Once done has brought me here for Ages uncounted. I cannot do that. Not even if the fate of Arda and all our fates depend on it. I just cannot."

"Nor do we ask you to do such thing," another voice, clear and very powerful, says, and Fionwë – nay, Eönwë he is called in these day, the minstrel begins to remember – comes back to see him in the eyes.

"Once, in the days of your youth, you have been taught a Song," he continues, willing him to remember more. "A Song of great power and triumph. We need you to come with us and sing it for us; to fill our hearts with strength and with the love for Arda and to ease our burdens; for only thus can we hope to defend the Darkness for ever."

The minstrel looks into the all-knowing eyes of Eönwë, mightiest of the Maiar, and all of a sudden the memories of his previous life return to him.

Yet, miraculously, they hurt him no more. For finally, after uncounted thousands of years, his heart is truly healed, and the light is returned to his life.

He looks at his bondmate, filled with love and joy, in spite of all that still might be waiting for them, for he remembers the words of Varda in his vision, and a smile begins to shine on his face, and he says:

"I shall follow you every where, indolírë.(2) Just as I have sworn on the day of our bonding."

And now he can remember the Great Song he heard in that vision, the Song that has been hidden in the most secret places of his heart, almost forgotten, and he lifts up his voice that is hoarse no more but sweet and clear and beautiful as it used to be in the days of his youth, and the far hills are echoing with it, making it sound even stronger and clearer.

And suddenly the silently rolling waves of the Soundless Sea began to murmur again, and the cries of the seagulls can be heard above the shores, sweet and wild and powerful like a summer storm.

The Silence has finally been broken.

The Second Music begins with the single voice of a pure heart healed and re-made.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
"In those days the Silmarils shall be recovered from sea and earth and air, and Maidros shall break them and Palúrien with their fire rekindle the Two Trees and the great light shall come forth again, and the Mountains of Valinor shall be levelled so that it goes over the World, and Gods and Elves and Men shall grow young again, and all their dead awake…" (pp. 40-41.)

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
In a secret garden of Arda Re-made, the last member of the ancient and holy order of Elven minstrels is resting in the arms of his beloved. Long has been their way to peaceful reunion – long and hard and full of sorrows, and Morgoth had to be slain and the World re-shaped ere they found together again. Yet they are together again, and naught but the whitened hair of the minstrel remains of the hardships they had to endure.

And in the waking dreams of his kin the minstrel softly sings of things and joys yet to come, weaving his own dreams together with the ever-present melody of the Second Music.

Eönwë, mightiest of the Maiar, looks down fondly upon them from the Taniquetil, where he dwells under Manwë’s roof with his own bondmate. The gift of farsight(3) enables him to watch over his beloved Elves, even in these days of peace, and he readily shares the lovely sight with the golden Elf through their bond.

Though calling Glorfindel simply an Elf might not be correct, he thinks distractedly, and is rewarded with a warm mental laughter from his beloved.

"After all those Ages, you still are worried about semantics?" Glorfindel chides gently, and rises to leave the house.

Laurelin the Re-born is about to awake again. A new dawn is about to come in the Blessed Realm, and he wants to watch it in the soft rain of the Second Music that is gently falling all over the World.

~The End~

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End notes:

(1) A supposed Quenya version for Lindir’s name. Was originally a rejected name for Thingol. Sorry, I couldn’t come up with anything better.

(2) "Heartsong" in Quenya (deep bows of gratitude to Artanis). In "Innocence" it was Lindir’s pet name for Erestor.

(3) Well, erm… I don’t know whether the Maiar possess such a thing… But again, I can’t remember having read that they do not.


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