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1
Mithlond

Disclaimer: The characters, the context and the main plot belong to Professor Tolkien, whom I greatly admire. I’m only trying to fill in the gaps he so graciously left for us, fanfic writers, to have some fun. Only a few insignificant side characters belong to me.

Rating: General, thorough the whole story.

Dedication: for Nemis, with love. Happy birthday!

Acknowledgement: my heartfelt gratitude goes to Cirdan (the writer) for our discussions, for the beta work and for our shared love for “The Book of Lost Tales”.


~~~

Foreword

As Professor Tolkien would say, “this tale grew in the telling” until it became something entirely different than what I intended to write. Originally, it would have been another missing chapter to my ongoing serial titled “Innocence”, but as there are no spoilers whatsoever, people could have read it independently. Chronologically, it would come right after the future chapter titled The Fading of the Silver Queen.

Also, this is a birthday gift for my dear friend Nemis, the chairwoman of UCMEC – therefore it has Celebrían as one of the main characters. The other one has been borrowed from “The Book of Lost Tales” (HoME 1-2) and is a genuine Tolkien character, albeit one that was later rejected. Most other characters (or, at least, their names) were also created by the Great Maker himself – I only gave their relations a mighty twist.

As you will see, I have tried to reintegrate parts of the old mythology as it is presented in “The Lost Tales” into the Third Age. I am well aware of the fact that Tolkien never meant these parts to be part of the later Silmarillion, or even the LOTR times. But I have been very fond of the fairy tale-like style of “The Lost Tales” for some 18 years now, an I felt the sudden need to do something with a few of its parts. If “creative” use of canon offends you, this is the right time to hit the Back button.

Further notices can be found – or ignored, whatever makes you happy – at the end of each chapter. And now, on we go!

First posted in early 2003, and still far from being finished, I fear.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

1. MITHLOND

Disclaimer: see in the Foreword.

Author’s Notes:
Galadriel’s background is based on “The Unfinished Tales.”

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
In all her life she had only visited Mithlond once before – which was not surprising, as her parents had dwelt deep in the inland for most of the last two Ages; first at Lake Evendim, ruling over the Green-Elves, then in the woods near Eregion, and finally in their last and most permanent dwelling, the Golden Wood. But there was a time, shortly after the war against Sauron in Eriador, when her mother decided to move to the southern shores, and Círdan offered to sail with them along the west coast into the South Haven of the Elves, known as Edhellond – a small settlement ruled by her cousin Gildor.

There her mother chose to settle next to the town on a rocky promontory jutting into the bay called Tirond Aear(1), and despite some long-hold family grudges, Gildor had the decency to send some of his best craftsmen to help them erect a tower for their family and household; and for a while they lived in Tirith Aear(2).

Those were good years. She lived the ever-present murmurs of the Sea that blended so seamlessly with the music of their people; the beautiful sight when the great Swanships came shimmering home to sail into their haven, the Elven mariners singing and winking from the high masts. She often accompanied them on short sea journeys, and enjoyed the frequent visits in the town that was built upon a green hill, surrounded by a low wall and a ring of silvery oaks. Often did she seek escape from her own much too sober home in her cousin’s merry house where the feasts were celebrated with song and music and dance and great amounts of the finest food and the best wine.

Yea, sober and too quiet her own home was, for her father was unhappy there. He disliked the Sea, finding it cold and distant and barren, and yearned for the great woods of his youth that were no more. Yet there still were huge forests in Middle-earth that could give shelter to the Lord of Trees, and thus they moved again, this time to Laurelindórinand, the Golden Wood, where her father’s kin dwelt of old. Her mother brought many silver nuts from the mellyrn that had been brought from the West and grew and flourished in the mild climate of Edhellond, and planted them in the rich soil of Lórinand, so that soon (at least as Elves count time) the Golden Wood truly became golden with the autumn leaves of these wondrous trees. And though their dwellings in the tree-top seemed rustic compared with the comfort and elegance of Tirith Aear, for a while they lived happily and content… ‘til war came upon them once again, and many of their people were killed, including her cousin, the King of the Golden Wood – and even more left for the West afterwards.

Often did the eyes of her mother turn westwards with sorrowful yearning, but like her father, she never felt the call of the Sea. She loved the lands of her birth, and though she had enjoyed the life in Edhellond, she was just as content under the trees. Thus she never visited Mithlond again, not even later when she married Elrond and moved to Imladris with him.

And yet now she was riding to the Havens for one last time. For this time the great Swanship will not sail southwards with her. This time she will embark upon a journey from which there would be no return.

She would go to the West.

Elrond and their children had accepted her decision, out of fear of losing her – for she was fading, and they could see that. They begged to accompany her on this last journey, but she asked them to let her go alone. The children had the blood of Eärendil in their veins – seeing the sea could have awakened the longing in their hearts, and it was too soon for that. Thus she say her farewells to them behind the closed doors of their home and rode forth in the company of Thalion, captain of the Home Guard, and a dozen of his best warriors.

They spoke little while they rode along the Weather hills and across the land of the Halflings, for Thalion was still feeling guilty that his guards had been unable to protect her at the Redhorn Pass; and he still grieved for his fallen people. So they travelled in nearly complete silence, and riding about the south skirts of the White Downs they came at least to the Far Downs and to the great, white tower of Elostirion that looked on the distant Sea, shimmering like a pearl in the twilight.

There the Guardians of the Tower came forth to greet them and asked her if she would look into the Seeing Stone – the one that looked always towards the West – before her departure, for the news that she was leaving had spread already. But she only wanted to go on as quickly as she might, therefore she rejected their offer. And so they bode her farewell and wished her smooth sailing.

Thus they rode down at last to Mithlond, to the Grey Havens, the realm of the most ancient Elf-lord in Middle-earth – Círdan, the Shipwright, beloved by Ossë and the Lady Uinen and a trusted vassal of Ulmo, the Lord of Waters himself.

Mithlond lay at the Gulf of Lhûn, not at the shores themselves; still, it was a marvellous sight to behold. It was surrounded by a wall, just like Edhellond – but that was about all they had in common. Edhellond was a small town with a harbour. Mithlond was a pair of cities, founded right after the War of Wrath and settled by the surviving Falathrim of Brithombar and Eglarest, who kept their old customs and even their old tongue, all which had separated them from the rest of the Elves in Middle-earth. And though the reign of High King Gil-galad Forlond might have been the most important city of Lindon, due to the present of the court, After the Last Alliance Edenalphond(3), the white castle of the King that stood upon a steep rock at the northern entrance of the Gulf, had been abandoned and fell slowly to ruin.

But Mithlond remained, with its great harbours, shipyards, long, lamplit quays, workshops, walled courtyards, orchards, gardens and adjoining woods. And so did its ancient Lord who had seen all three Ages of Middle-earth, yet was still not weary of it.

Círdan was waiting for them already in the gates that were cut into the wall where the road coming from the Tower Hills ended, and she greeted him with a forced smile. She had not seen the Shipwright since her early childhood, and now she was shocked of how much he had changed. She had memories of a very tall Elf with noble and beautiful features, with long hair of pure silver (like that of her father’s), a neatly trimmed, short silver beard and deep eyes as keen as the newborn stars above the dark waters of Cuiviénen, where he awakened before Time had begun to be measured on this part of Arda.(4)

Tall and keen-eyed he still was, but now his beard was long and grey like his hair that he still wore in a tight knot wound low upon the nape of his neck, and there were deep lines around his mouth and in the corner of his eyes – eyes that looked at her with understanding and great pity. And though it had shaken her badly to see an Elven face marred by age, she had to admit that even as an old Elf Círdan still was a majestic sight. This was the same Elf who – out of his love to Elwë – tarried so long, looking for his friend in the enchanted woods, that he missed the last ferry to Valinor, way back in the Age of the Trees, when the Sea was not bent yet and Anor and Ithil were not even born.

Mae govannen, my Lady,” the Shipwright greeted her in a voice that was deep and rumbling and melodious like the never-ending song of the Sea. “All has been prepared for your journey, but the ships of Mithlond do not leave the Havens at nighttime. You will rest in my home tonight and depart by daybreak.”

She nodded her agreement. A mere year ago she would have been excited to visit the famous Sea Palace, built in the likeness of Lord Ossë’s home of old, back in Valinor, and with the help of his vassals, the spirits of the foam and the surf of the ocean, for wondrous tales had been told about it, every time after one of Elrond’s messengers had visited the Havens. Yet now, though Círdan’s home still shimmered pearly white and grey-green like the sea-foam, despite the Age and half that had gone by since it was built, she only wished for the night to be gone swiftly so that she could leave the shores of her birth.

Círdan saw that she wanted to be left alone, and thus servants came and showed her to a comfortable room and asked if she wanted to eat or drink something; but she politely rejected the offer and they withdrew, not wanting to disturb her solitude. Yet sleep eluded her – or else, she was too frightened of by the nightmares that might come should she fall asleep – and so she got up again, donned a robe and left the Palace to take a stroll through Círdan’s extensive gardens.

These stretched along the Gulf of Lhûn, opposite the port itself, and unlike the orchards that lay further behind, protected by stone walls against the quirks of the weather, they stood wide open – as they ever had during the last two Ages – and descended in wide, flat steps to the Sea. There were evergreen trees and bushes, some of them hundreds of years old; and fountains, with basins formed like rare seashells, and their falling water, due to their strange shape, formed a soft harmony with the ever-present murmurs of the Sea. A wonderful peace lay upon the gardens of the Shipwright, even in these troubled days, and she found that she could breathe a little easier, as if the salty breeze had lifted some of the burden off her tormented spirit.

She detected a steep, narrow path between two rows of tall evergreen bushes, and understood that they would lead down to the Sea; so she began to descend the hidden path, feeling the Call for the first time. She came to an open terrace, the tall, glassless windows of which looked at the sandy shore. The once with stone of the slender pillars had long become grey-green from the sea-spray that the waves kept throwing at them, whenever they came up ‘til a few feet’s distance during the time of high flood, but this only gave the whole structure an even more ancient, more intricate look.

Pulling her robe more tightly around her weary self, she sat down on the edge of the terrace, leaning against one of the pillars, and looked out, far above the white crest of the dancing waves. Vaguely, she could remember a dream she had once shared with Elrond, about him sitting somewhere at the shores, thinking of the harsh events of his childhood. It never occurred to her – until now – that it might have been less of a dream and more of a memory(5).

But now she felt with relief the memory of Elrond’s presence still lingering over this place. And so she remained there, clinging to this small comfort, until the night was over and the time of her departure came.

~~~

End notes:
(1) Sea-spire (Sindarin). As to Galadriel’s different dwellings, I tried to sort them chronologically, based on the “Unfinished Tales”, but the Professor left us with too many holes in the whole fabric to be sure.

(2) Sea-ward Tower (Sindarin).

(3) New Swanstone (Sindarin). Gil-galad’s castle in Forlond is the product of my over-active imagination and was created using Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany as a model.

(4) This is not a canon fact. Just that it is clear.

(5) Actually, it was. The event is described in “Twisted Paths of Fate”, Chapter 5. Celebrían was not even born yet at that time.


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