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3
Part Two

Author’s notes:
The unrequited love of Glorfindel towards Idril Celebrindal is, of course, the fruit of my own imagination. I postulated this in my Glorfindel story and stuck to it. There is no canon fact to support my idea.

Many thanks to Altariel Artanis for suggesting the name of Gildor’s mother. Lintári means “musical woman” in Quenya, and as a Vanyarin Elf (also purely my imagination) she no doubt was one.

Inglor is, of course, the father of Gildor Inglorion, whom Frodo met in the Shire in “Three is Company” (FOTR). He introduced himself as someone of the House of Finrod (and he had to know, after all), so I decided that his father, Inglor, would have been born in Aman, after Finrod left for Middle-earth. The canon only says that Amarië, Finrod’s beloved (a Vanyarin Elf as well) did not follow him. There is nothing said about if their had, indeed, married before he left. (Under certain circumstances they could have done it without the whole ceremony and in the absence of their respective families.) Again, this is non-canon theory, but at least it does not directly contradict any established canon facts, as far as I know.


~~~

PART TWO

Eönwë had a restful sleep on that night, mayhap the first one since the onset of the war. The needs and restrictions of a more or less permanently incarnated form still surprised and somewhat disturbed him, and he was grateful for Glorfindel’s soothing presence, for the golden Elf just smiled over his more and more frequent ramblings and offered the comforting thought that soon he would be able to return to the Undying Lands and float around in his true form (as a disembodied spirit) as long as it pleased him. And Eönwë laughed at that, for in truth, he rarely shed his physical form in Aman – there was no need for that, for there a body was no burden.

So he took care of the needs of his burden, cleaning and feeding it and giving it the much-needed time to recover from the trials of the recent days, so that it could serve his purposes a little longer – ere he could return home and rest in Mandos’ care for what seemed to be a very long time.

But then, there is no time in Mandos’ Halls, no changes, save the slow healing of spirits from their sins and sorrows, or so Glorfindel had told him. In these barren years of war the golden Elf has become his mentor and his aide in things that referred to the lives of incarnate beings – the Firstborn above all – and Eönwë knew that he would miss Glorfindel, should he choose to remain in Middle-earth as Inglor did, to help his own people to recover from the horrors of Morgoth’s long reign.

Inglor and his wife, golden Lintári of the Vanyar, had already left, seeking out Círdan in his temporary dwellings and Ereinion son of Fingon, who now was considered High King of the Noldor, bearing the proud name of Gil-galad, the radiant star. But Glorfindel held back his decision, for it depended on the wishes of Eärendil’s sons. If they wanted to go to Aman with the returning Host of Valinor, then Glorfindel would return with them. But should they choose to linger in Middle-earth, then Glorfindel would stay, too.

For once he had sworn to Idril Celebrindal to protect all her descendants til the end of Arda – and now only these two remained to be protected. So great Glorfindel’s love for Turgon’s daughter had been, that he bound himself to her one-sidedly, never expecting aught in reward.

Eönwë thought that Idril was a woman blessed beyond measure, being the subject of such devotion. Even if she chose the mortal Tuor over Glorfindel – a choice that was somewhat of a mystery for Eönwë, just as the deep bonds of love that bound the Firstborn of Ilúvatar to each other were.

He was brought back from his straying thoughts by Ingwion son of Ingwë, leader of the Vanyar who made up the majority of the Host of Valinor(1) and served as Eönwë’s aide during the whole war.

“My Lord,” he said in Quenya, bowing to the Maia, “the sons of Eärendil have arrived.”

“Already?” Eönwë asked in surprise. “It has only been a day since Glorfindel located them.”

Ingwion sighed, a cloud of sorrow shadowing the faint golden shimmer of his noble face, for the deep wounds the war had cut in the flesh of Arda pained them all.

“Not much of what once used to be Beleriand has remained, my Lord. They had no long way to go, and the horses their forefathers once brought with them from Aman are still swift. Do you wish to see them at once?”

“Indeed, I do,” Eönwë said; “and send for Glorfindel as well. I want him present while talking to those children.”

“There are children no more,” said Ingwion; “mayhap they never truly were. Yet Glorfindel is already waiting with them outside. I shall tell them to enter.”

With these words he bowed again and left, and a moment later Glorfindel entered, still wearing his shining armour, for he had not rested in the night, having watched over Eönwë’s sleep and singing to him to keep tormenting dreams away. He showed no sigh of weariness, but Eönwë felt slightly guilty nevertheless.

I begin to feel and react like the incarnates! he thought with mild dismay.'Tis time, indeed, for me to return home.

Two young Elves came in with Glorfindel, and Eönwë looked upon them with curiosity and slight surprise, realizing how right Ingwion had been a moment earlier. Everyone had always spoken of Eärendil’s sons as if they had still been children – yet these two were doubtlessly well beyond their maturity.

They looked very similar, almost identical – tall and slender and dark-haired with keen grey eyes and a fair face that merged the best traits of three kins: Maiar, Elves and Men, to a harmony as-yet unknown. Not even their parents seemed this beautiful, this strong – and this vulnerable at the same time. To the naked eyes of a Men or even an Elf, there would hardly be any differences between them.

But Eönwë, whose eyes saw deeper than even those of most of his own noble kin, noticed the great difference in their auras. Elrond’s, who was the older of them, had shown the unmistakable signature of Melian’s spirit – something that even his mother lacked – while Elros’, the younger one, showed a cunning likeness with Tuor’s, whom Eönwë had met once on that enchanted island the Valar gave him and Idril to dwell on(2). And ere they would say as much as a single word, Eönwë had already know what their choices would be like.

Yet he said naught of what he had read in their fëar(3); instead he greeted the brothers kindly and said:

“Sons of Eärendil, children of Melian, I bring you the greetings and the blessings of the Valar. The Lords of the West have heard the plea of your father, and they offer you the gift that is offered to all of the Firstborn: to leave this scorched earth and come to the Blessed Real. For, to my regret, Middle-earth shall never fully recover from the wounds we were forced to slash into its flesh in order to break Morgoth’s power – and the Valar lifted the bane of the Noldor and are willing to let them return to the Utmost West.”

He felt the hostility from Elros ere he finished his words. And the younger brother answered him without the slightest hesitation.

“I shall not leave Middle-earth to become the tame pet of the Valar. This earth, scorched it might be, has always been my home; and it ever shall be. I wish to remain here and help to heal its wounds, as far as they could be healed.”

Eönwë nodded. The longing to protect his land Elros had not inherited from his mortal ancestors alone. It was the legacy of Elwë Singollo as well, who remained on these shores even after he had seen the Light of the Two Trees. Also, the emissary of the Valar had to expect a certain amount of hostility from someone who had been raised Maglor son of Fëanor.

“What say you, Elrond?” the Maia asked.

The elder twin did not answer at once. Their eyes met, and where Eönwë had seen youthful brashness and bitter grief from Elros’ fëa – grief over the loss of his true parents, over the fate of Maglor, his foster father, whom he loved with the unconditional love of a son; over the destruction of their old home – in Elrond there were only sorrow and tormented wisdom beyond his young age… and a compassion for any being that suffered, a compassion rarely seen among the Firstborn.

“I shall stay as long as my brother stays,” he finally answered, “for I was born a healer and I, too, want to help the land and its people to heal.”

“But your old home is no more,” Glorfindel reminded him gently. “Where do you intend to live, if you stay?”

“Lord Círdan and the High King both offered me a dwelling place,” Elrond answered calmly. “I have not yet decided which offer to accept.”

“And what about you?” Glorfindel turned to Elros.

The younger twin shrugged helplessly.

“I know not. I would prefer to live with the people of my forefathers, Beren and Tuor; yet they have no land anymore, either. And they had already suffered enough for their acquaintance with the Firstborn… I wish not to cause them even more trouble.”

“Then the Lords of the West may offer you a solution that meets your wishes, after all,” Eönwë said. “For it has been decided to reward the Atani(4) who fought on our side, with a new home, far from the perils of Middle-earth, in the neighbourhood of the Undying Lands. A green island it is, deep in the far waters of the Sea, where they can live undisturbed. You may go with them and dwell among them as their King; for a son of the great leaders of Men you are, and they would have need of a King, should they build a new realm in their land of gifts.”

“If they want to live in peace, they would do better not to live under Elven rule,” said Elros bitterly. “No good our sires has brought to Middle-earth when they returned from Aman to attack the Enemy, only blood and tears. How can any Elf ever understand the short and harsh life of mortal Men who die and are gone beyond the Rim, with no hope to be restored and sent back to the living again?”

“It seems to me that you understand it well enough,” said Eönwë.

“Not well enough,” Elros replied, “yet the blood of mortal Men burns hot enough in my veins to at least feel some of the urges and longings that drive their short lives. But to understand them fully, I would have to become one of them.”

“And you do have this choice, indeed,” Eönwë answered. “For the Valar offered this to Eärendil’s children: that you are allowed to choose whether you want to remain among the Firstborn or to become like mortal Men and die and be free of the peril of fading. I cannot say what awaits Men beyond the Rim, for not even the Valar have knowledge of it, save mayhap Manwë who is let in to Ilúvatar’s thoughts in all things that refer to Arda. But you can make this choice – for you and all those who shall be born of your loins.”

“So if we choose, our choice lays out the fate of our children and their children ‘til the end of Arda?” Elrond asked quietly. “Is this a responsibility we should be burdened with to bear?”

Eönwë sighed and shook his head.

“’Tis not that simple. If you choose to remain with the Firstborn, your descendants shall have the same choice, as long as you remain in Middle-earth; for the promise has been given to you and to you alone. Then, they will have to make their choice – to go with you to Aman or to stay and fade or die. But if you choose to join the kin of mortal Men, all your children and their children shall be born as mortals; for not even the Valar can take the Gift of Ilúvatar back, once it has been given.”

“Is then to die a gift?” Elros asked with a bitter laugh. Eönwë nodded.

“It is – or so I was taught by Manwë and Varda. The Firstborn cannot perish as long as Arda remains; yet no-one knows what will be their fate after the end of Arda. Yet the fëar of mortal Men shall remain forever beyond the Rim. This much Manwë has been told in his heart, where he constantly weighs and contemplates the thoughts and plans of Ilúvatar and the faint echoes of the Music, even if no-one of us knows aught else.”

“Then if we choose differently, and one of us dies, we shall be lost for each other ‘til the end of Arda and even beyond that?” Elrond asked.

Eönwë remained silent for what seemed to the young Elves as a very long time.

“I cannot say,” he finally admitted. “It might be.”

“Then ’tis a bitter choice, indeed,” said Elrond. “In this world, twilight and starlight can be together; yet if that should not be so after the end of Arda, how can the Valar ask us to choose the one or the other?”

“I have no answer to that,” Eönwë sighed, “and I very much doubt that even the Valar have one, save mayhap Mandos who knows more of the matters of doom than even Manwë himself. I am only the messenger; not the one who had sent the message.”

“Then I shall wait with making my choice for a while,” Elrond said, and his brother nodded, without a further word.

“You can do that,” said Eönwë, “for I shall linger on these shores for some more time. I have to travel and visit the remaining Elves, to bring them the message of the Valar – and it will take time for our host to return to Valinor as well. Yet as soon as my ship is ready to set sail for the Utmost West, I shall have to take your answer with me, whether you choose twilight or starlight.”

“By that time we shall be ready, my Lord,” Elrond responded quietly, while his brother simply nodded again. “Do we have your leave to return to our own people?”

Eönwë hesitated for a moment.

“Your brother is free to leave, if that is what he wishes,” he then said. “But I want you to remain with me for the time of my travels, Elrond Eärendilion. For I can feel the light of my own kin burn very brightly in you; and it is my intention to teach you how to use it.”(5)

“I yield to your wish, my Lord,” Elrond bowed, but his face was clouded with sorrow and foreboding.

“As for me,” Elros said in a tight voice, “I shall go and find a place where I am wanted.”

“Brother!” Elrond laid a hand upon his forearm; “You need not to leave… We belong together, as we always have.”

“Do we?” Elros replied bitterly. “It seems that the choice has already been made for me. Clearly, I am not good enough to be considered your equal. It matters not. I shall find my own way – one that does not include crawling on my knees before anyone.”

But Elrond grabbed his arm even more tightly, drawing him into a strong embrace.

“Leave me not in bitterness, little brother(6),” he murmured.

“’Tis not you I am bitter with,” Elros replied, returning the hug. “Yet it seams that our paths will part here and now. It was inevitable, from the very beginning. No matter how alike we look, we always have been different. We have been growing apart for a very long time. Tis only the final step we have to do.”

“Have we?” Elrond whispered. His brother nodded, sadly.

“We have. Or else we shall never be free from the shadows of our past and the guilt we shared – the guilt that we survived when so many were slain and that we grew up in the house of the one who had slain them. We have been the sons of Maglor for too long – you out of necessity and I for I have grown to love him like a father. Mayhap now that he is gone and with him every thing that remained from the past, we might be freed and find our own place under the Sun.”

He looked at Eönwë, at Glorfindel and then at his brother, nodding to them as they stood staring back. Then without a word, he turned and walked past, disappearing from the tent of the Maia.

The silence in his wake was deafening. Only when the far clap of the hooves of his horse broke it, were the others able to breathe again.

TBC

~~~

Originally, I wanted to end this short story here. But Eönwë still had some issues to deal with, so I promised him to write a short epilogue.

End notes:
(1) See Michael Martinez: It’s all in the family: the Elwëans and Ingwëans

(2)Since Tuor was a mere mortal, Michael Martinez assumes that the Valar might have given him and Idril a place to live where he would not age and die. There is no proof for that, however.

(3) Soul or spirit of an incarnate being.

(4) The plural of Edain, the people of Beleriand who sided with the Elves against Morgoth’s evil.

(5) Michael Martinez postulates in one of his articles about the Last Alliance, that Elrond had been somehow enhanced by Eönwë, without going into further detail. I thought such a thing would explain his ability to use Vilya to hold back the fading of Elves in and around Imladris. That and his partially Maian heritage – both of which might explain why his children would only remain immortal as long as he stayed in Middle-earth.

(6) The Lost Road states that Elrond and Elros were twins. All other sources that I know only say that they were brothers. I do consider them twins; I just consider Elrond the firstborn.


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