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5
Gilfanon a-Davrobel

Disclaimer: see in the Foreword.

Author’s Notes:
Gilfanon of Tavrobel (or, with a different spelling, Gilfanon a-Davrobel) is another rejected character from “The Lost Tales” – a highly interesting one, and we can only regret that he did not make it into the later versions of the mythology. He was not related to Meril in “The Lost Tales” – this is entirely my invention. Ailios was his earlier name; one I decided was only used in the family in later Ages.

Canon warnings are still very much in place!


~~~

5. Gilfanon a-Davrobel

After the conversation with Meril, Celebrían spent two peaceful days in the Queen’s fair house. Tirannë, one of the Queen’s handmaids had been told to look after her needs but bother her not otherwise, and she had come to appreciate Tirannë’s quiet tact and gentle care. She spent her days in the gardens, for these had many lovely enclosures where she could avoid Meril’s visitors – who were numerous, for just as Galdor had said, the whole Island looked at her for wisdom and counsel and leadership. Yet no-one ever bothered Celebrían, obeying Meril’s wishes, and she was grateful for it.

On the third morn, however, Ilverin sough her out in the gardens and spoke to her with delight: “My Lady, ‘tis time for you to get ready. Meril and her household leave for Tavrobel later in the afternoon, yet the Queen thought that you may prefer travelling separately and quietly.

“Lady Meril is right,” Celebrían answered with a sad little smile. Nay, she was not ready to face the Queen’s whole court yet. She would gladly remain here, yet Meril clearly wished her to go, thus she was relieved that she at least could travel alone. Ilverin gave her one of his radiant smiles that could clear up a rainy day and clapped merrily.

“Then I am glad to offer you my guidance once again, my Lady,” he said. “I promise you a swift and pleasant voyage.”

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
And thus they set off later in that morn and walked westwards, for the home of Ailios, the host of the Feast of Double Mirth, stood nigh the bridge of Tavrobel, where the river Apros joined the Gruir, and it was near the western shores of Elvenhome, about as far from Koromas as Avallónë was, only in the opposite direction.

This time, though, Ilverin seemed in a more talkative mood, and when Celebrían asked him about Ailios, he readily told her all he knew. And knowing quite a lot he did, for as she learned later, he used to spent part of the year in the ancient tower of Tavrobel, which was the dwelling place of Rúmil the Sage – at least in those times that this great lore-master spent in Tol Eressëa, for often did he travel back and forth between Valinor and the Lonely Island. Ilverin, however, had been Rúmil’s pupil ever since he returned from Irmo’s gardens and found great delight in learning ancient lore.

“Ailios is a kinsman of our Lady,” he explained; “Indeed he is the father of Lady Mavoinë(1) of the Noldor, the one who married Ingil son of Ingwë, and they are the grandparents of our Queen. Inwithiel was their only daughter, and she married Lindelos, one of the Noldor again, and our Lady is their only child. Ailios, though, is called Gilfanon a-Davrobel by all but his closest family in the ancient dialect of the Noldor, for ever he dwelt in Tavrobel, where the Noldorin folk dwells still as one people, naming the places and people in their own tongue: the one they spoke among themselves ere they learnt to speak Sindarin in the Outer Lands.”

Celebrían frowned a little, for all those names Ilverin counted down with great ease were a little confusing for her. Also, she had always thought that the Noldor had spoken Quenya in Valinor; but Ilverin most likely meant some older fashion of the Elven-speech(2). Yet she chose to not ask about it, for she was more interested in the person of Ailios… or Gilfanon… whatever his name might be.

“He must be very ancient then,” she said, the curiosity that she once shared with her husband stirring below the dead weight of her pain and grief.

“He is,” Ilverin agreed, “for he came to Aman with the Great Journey of the Eldar as a close friend of Finwë, and fled after Finwë’s death with the host of Fingolfin, driven by vengeful grief. Yet once in the Outer Lands, long had he dwelt away from the Noldor, faring with the Ilkorin in Hisilómë and Doriath, and thereto had he become as few Eldar did a friend and companion of the Dark Elves of those days(3). To their legends and their memories he added his own knowledge, for he had been deep-versed in many lores and tongues once in the far days of Tirion, and experience had he beside of many very ancient deeds, being indeed one of the oldest of the Eldar; and since the death of Finwë he also has been the eldest of the Noldor.”

Here Ilverin ran out of breath and smiled, a little embarrassed.

“Your pardon, lady,” he said, blushing. “Sometimes I become too excited about things and people I know well.”

Celebrían could not help but laugh quietly. In some things Ilverin reminded her strongly of Lindir, which she found a little strange, considering Ilverin’s age. It was hard to remember that he was actually older than Elrond, having sailed with Eärendil himself.

“I do not mind,” she replied in kind, “for I found all that you told me quite intriguing. But do tell me one more thing, will you?”

“If I can,” Ilverin promised earnestly, in the manner of a child that was asked an important question.

“Oh, I am certain that you can,” she said, still smiling. “For I wish to know why Meril is Queen of Elvenhome, if Ailios is so much older and so very wise.”

“That he is,” Ilverin agreed amiably, “but he is not of the blood of Ingwë, while Meril is one of the Inwir(4); and Koromas was founded by her grandsire, Ingil. Besides, she had been Queen of the Noldor already, back in the Outer Lands where the Exiles lived under Morgoth’s shadow in Beleriand.”

“She mentioned that much two days ago,” Celebrían remembered, “yet no matter how much I asked, she would tell me no more.”

“Then it is not my place to say more, either,” replied Ilverin apologetically; he clearly disliked the necessity to deny an answer. Then, with a bright smile, he added: “Unless you want to hear more about Ailios.”

His merry mood was truly infectious; she had the feeling as if a dark cloud had been lifted off her heart just by being in his company.

“I would gladly listen to aught that you have to tell,” she answered with a smile of her own, which seemed to delight him even more.

“Shall I tell you the tale of his house?” he offered, and when she nodded, he went on eagerly. “Now, that is a truly wondrous place, different though it is from the dwelling of our Queen. ‘Tis called the House of the Hundred Chimneys, for many rooms it has, housing all the people who dwell under Ailios’ roof, who are numerous, indeed. They say it was the very first house that had been ever built in Elvenhome – long before the Darkening of Valinor, when the Solosimpi, as the Teleri were called back then, had not moved to Aman yet, but dwelt on the coasts of Tol Eressëa. And here Ailios dwelt with them, for just as Finwë was friend with Elwë, their old King who got lost in Nan Elmoth, so was Ailios the friend of Olwë, their new King. Afterwards, when he went to Valinor with the Solosimpi, the house stood quiet and empty and dark for the whole First Age, ‘til the Exiles returned from the Outer Lands and settled in Elvenhome permanently.”

“It has to be a great house indeed, when it houses so many people that hundred chimneys are needed to heat it properly,” said Celebrían.

“It is certainly big enough,” answered Ilverin, “even though there is no need to heat the house anymore since Elvenhome has become part of the Blessed Realm and is no longer disturbed by cold winters. But in the early times, when the Exiles returned, those of common birth were unwilling to face their brethren in Valinor, and they looked to Ailios for guidance. Thus many of them did not even begin to build a house of their own but asked to live under his roof, so accustomed they had become to living close to their Lords. And many old friends of Ailios came from Valinor to support him: some of the fairest and the wisest, merriest and the kindest of the Noldor who did not left the Blessed Realm with the Exiles. Here among those came his oldest friend, Valwë, and also Tulkastor, a great craftsman, and their children. And Tulkastor was of Aulë’s household but had dwelt long with the Shoreland Pipers, the Solosimpi, and so he returned among the earliest to the Island; and he helped Ingil to build his great Tower in Koromas ere he joined Ailios’ people(5).”

“But why did Ingil not join the people of Elvenhome?” Celebrían asked. “For was he not the one who founded this very realm for the Exiles?”

“He was indeed,” Ilverin replied, “but he had no part in the rebellion of the Noldor; none of the Vanyar had, even though some joined their quest, out of love to their friends or spouses, like Glorfindel or Turgon’s unfortunate wife. Thus he saw no need to abandon his family who live in Aman still… well, mostly. Meril is the only one of his descendants who chose to dwell in Elvenhome.”

“What a sad thing it is,” said Celebrían, “that she must be separated from her loved ones, even though they all live in the Blessed Realm.”

Ilverin looked at her thoughtfully, as if he wanted to say something yet dared not to do at the end.

“Sad indeed,” he finally answered, “for unlike yours, her parting was not willingly done but accepted out of duty and forgotten by most, save her own people. A good and wise queen she is, as she had been long ago in the Great Lands, where her name has faded already from people’s memories.”

He fell silent, and Celebrían thought better not to ask him for any more details, for it seemed that a strange secret there lay in Meril’s past, one of which her people were unwilling to speak. Thus they continued their way down the western slope of the hill upon which Koromas was built, and wandered afterwards during the rest of the day and deep into the lovely, starlight night, ‘til they reached the western borders of Alalminórë, and there they made finally a longer rest.

The night gone by peacefully, while Celebrían slept and Ilverin watched her sleep and sang softly under the stars – not that there would be need for keeping watch, but the part of him that was Dark Elf loved the night and the stars more than he ever loved the bright golden light of Anor. And singing to the stars, so his mother had told him once, was something the Quendi did even before Oromë found them at the dark Waters of Awakening.

At daybreak they rose again and continued their journey towards Falassë Númëa, the Western Surf of the Lonely Island, where the Solosimpi of old had once dwelt – but now it was mostly abandoned, like an empty shell, washed ashore by the never-resting waves of the Shadowy Seas.

But shortly before the next sunset Ilverin suddenly turned away from the main road and took a lane on the right, a lane of deep banks and great overhanging hedges, beyond which stood many tall trees wherein a perpetual whisper seemed to live. The whispered conversation between the leaves and the wind, between the wind and the unseen birds in the tree-branches it seemed to Celebrían, and yet she had the uncertain feeling that there was something more. Something she could not name, but it filled her heart with anticipation.

And Ilverin turned his face to the trees, and a light of pure joy and excitement shone upon his features as he was listening to the whispering voices, and he said in joyous recognition:

“Double the mirth on our feast will be indeed! For lo! the Súruli(6) have come to partake in our joy, and they are dancing among the tree-branches already!

And Celebrían, who only knew the familiar whispering of the wind and the leaves from her home of old, long stood there in the middle of the lane, listening to the breezy laughter all around her in awe.

~~~

End notes:

(1) Originally a rejected Elven name for Túrin’s mother, Morwen.

(2) Needless to say that the Elven tongues went through as much change as the names or the tales of the mythology themselves. And no, I cannot say what dialect that might be. I am no linguist.

(3) The “Lost Tales” actually says that he became a friend of Men, but considering the changes the mythology went through, that seemed a little unlikely to me. As for why he went with Fingolfin’s host, the reason for that will be told later.

(4) The royal clan of the Vanyar; basically the extended family of Ingwë.

(5) Believe or not, all these people actually existed in the earliest mythology – of course, they had a different role in it than what I gave them here.

(6) Spirits of the winds, attendants of Manwë and Varda. Apparently, most of them never got embodied.


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