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The Beginning of a Long Tale

Disclaimer: see in the Foreword.

Author’s Notes:
Now, after having been sidetracked by demanding Lost Tales-characters, I shall try to return to the actual storyline. On the third day of Samírien Gilfanon begins to tell the tale of the Flight of the Noldoli and all its consequences. The tale will be a little different from the well-known description in the Silmarillion, for it was very different in the Lost Tales. I tried to find a middle way between the two versions, assuming that Gilfanon’s own memories would be more… coloured by experience.

As this would be a much too long chapter otherwise, I will separate it into several parts.


12. The Beginning of a Long Tale

The feasting crowd had danced with the Súruli ‘til daybreak; then they all sought out their resting places and slept through the morning. Once again, Celebrían had a peaceful east, and once again, she felt a presence leaving her chambers when Tirannë woke her around mid-day. Having a bath and refusing the offer of a meal, she left the tree-house to explore the telain higher up in the tree – and on one of those he met Gilfanon again.

The Lord of Tavrobel was sitting upon the wooden floor, clad in the simple garb Elves wore on ordinary days, and the Lady Vainóni accompanied her. They sat in complete silence, their deep eyes glittering in the shadow of the leaves, but Celebrían doubted not that they were bespeaking each other. She had seen her own parents doing the same often enough – and these Elves were far older than even Celeborn and Galadriel.

They noticed her presence, despite her best efforts to leave quietly (not wanting to bother them), and invited her to join them in a solemn yet friendly manner. Lady Vainóni asked about her well-faring, about how she liked Samírien so far, and she answered politely. But she could not shake off the feeling that the other two were saddened somehow, even though they were partaking in the greatest Feast known in Elvenhome.

“You are right,” answered Vainóni when Celebrían voiced her feelings. “For even though the Feast of Double Mirth is the holiest and merriest for the Eldar, it is also marked by the dark memory of Melko’s(1) theft and the slaughtering of the Two Trees – for it all started on the third day of Samírien, when all the Eldar and most of the Valar went to Manwë’s dwelling upon Taniquetil, and Tirion and Valmar were silent and still, unguarded against his evil.”

“There are songs about those dread events in Middle-earth, though they are known to few people now,” said Celebrían, “ and heavy books, written in the Ancient Tongue that only the lore-masters are able to read anymore. Yet never have I heard someone telling the tale who have seen it with his own eyes.”

“Small wonder it is,” replied Gilfanon, “for few of those who witnessed those horrors are still in the Outer Lands; and it is a bitter memory for them, left better rest. For on that very day has the long suffering of the Noldoli begun; our life under the Curse of Mandos that ended in the War of Wrath and the breaking of Beleriand. Those who still can remember are unwilling to stir up that old pain again.”

“And yet I believe that you should tell her the tale, Ailios, if she is willing to listen,” said Vainóni. “’Tis something her own mother neglected to do; but she has the right to know where she comes from – and to make her own judgement over the deeds of her ancestors.”

“I shall do so if she wants to hear it,” replied Gilfanon. “Painful though the memories are, they also honour the heroic deeds of many good friends who are waiting in Mandos still, and I shall not deny them the honour and respect that they richly deserve, regardless of the mistakes they might have made.”

“I wish to hear the tale,” said Celebrían, “for surely, one who had seen those fateful events with his own eyes still sees them differently than any minstrel would for whom they belong to a past long gone.”

Gilfanon inclined his head in agreement.

“Then I shall tell you everything you wish to know: first the tale of Melko’s theft, then the one about the killing of the Trees, and finally that of the long and horrible flight of the Noldoli. The other tales, the ones of Beleriand, I shall not tell, for they are not mine to tell. I played but a small part in the wars of Beleriand and you will need a better chronist if you want to learn about them.”

Celebrían agreed, and Gilfanon began his long tale about how evil crept into Valinor even, due to the release of Melko from Mandos; how Melko would nurse his hatred for the Valar and his consumming jealousy of the Eldar; and how his lust for the beauty of the Gems in the end overbore his patience and caused him to attack openly once again.

“Now the Noldoli alone among the Eldar at those times had the art of fashioning those beautiful things,” Gilfanon said; “for they were much beloved by Aulë himself, and the greatest among them, like Mahtan father of Tulkastor were called the Aulenossë(2) and allowed to work in his own smithies, alongside the Maiar of his household.”

“The father of Tulkastor?” Celebrían replied in surprise. “Would that not make Tulkastor…”

“The brother of Nerdanel(3), aye,” nodded Gilfanon, “and Vairë, the keeper of my house, is his daughter. ‘Tis the House of Fëanáro that is left without progeny, not the House of Mahtan; for though Vairë followed not the example of her aunt and has no interest in metals, her son Aluin(4) does, and thus the hammer has been passed over to the next generation.”

He paused shortly, then he picked up his tale again.

“Melko recognized the gift of the Noldoli, and whenever he might consorteth with them, speaking cunning words – the same words he spake to mislead many of the Maiar and even some of the Valar who were not content with their part in creation – Makar and Meássë(5), to name only two of those, and he sought to sow evil desires and discords among the Noldoli, telling them outright lies concerning the Council when the Eldar had been first bidden to Valinor.”

“What lies?” asked Celebrían.

“That many of the Valar were reluctant to tolerate them among themselves,” replied Gilfanon. “’Slaves ye are,’ he would say, ‘or children, an you will, bidden play with toys and seek not to stray or know too much. Good days mayhap the Valar give you, as ye say; seek but to cross their walls and ye shall know the hardness of their hearts. Lo, they use your skills, and your beauty they hold fast as an adornment of their realm.(6)’”

Hearing these words, Celebrían was eerily reminded of Aiwendil’s coming to Imladris some two thousand years earlier. Had the brown wizard not feared the same fate for young Lindir, should he ever fall into the greedy hands of Curunír?(7)

“Thus were the poisoned words of Melko,” continued Gilfanon, “and despite the true knowledge which Nólemë(8) had and spread abroad, there were many who hearkened with half their hearts to Melko, often not knowing that these cunning lies, that they heard from second or third hand already, had come from him in the first place. And restlessness grew between them, for before all those born in Valinor had already felt a great longing for the inheritance that Ilúvatar designed for them – the whole wide world to roam, with all its secrets to unveil, and all its substances to be material for their mighty crafts. And they felt imprisoned in the gardens of Valinor, penned by the mountains, hemmed in by the impassable Sea.”

“Like my mother,” whispered Celebrían, and Gilfanon nodded.

“Indeed. Nerwendë Artanis has always been the strongest and most wilful of that daughters of the Noldoli. That has been her strength – and her greatest weakness. For her pride and strong will led her into exile – the wish to have a kingdom for her own to rule. Yet it seems to me that unlike her brothers, she never got the chance to prove herself.”

“Yet unlike her brothers, she is not sitting in Mandos’ Halls, either,” Celebrían shrugged. “And even though she is not called a queen, she certainly rules Lórinand alongside my father. And while the love and the loyalty of the Silvan Folk belongs to the Tree Lord, ‘tis his Lady who wields the power protecting their realm.”

The Lord and the Lady of Tavrobel exchanged a thoughtful look.

“We know about the nature of that power,” said Vainóni, “for Círdan’s people always provided us with tidings about the important events going on in the Outer Lands during those last two Ages. The existence of the Three Rings and the identity of their bearers is no secret among us, even though we use not to talk about it, for the mere mentioning of the Rings would cause great sorrow for some who dwell in Tol Eressëa.”

“They would?” Once again, Celebrían felt a little bewildered. All inhabitants of the Lonely Isle seemed to belong to the First Age, why would their grieve over something that happened in the Second?

But Vainóni shook her head in apology. “These tales are not ours to tell. Let us allow Ailios to continue his tale, for the roots of all later events lay in those early days, and you would not be able to understand one without the other.û1

“I shall do as my Lady suggests,” with a smile, Gilfanon bowed slightly towards his wife, then he continued indeed. “As I have said, all Valinor was celebrating the Feast of Double Mirth once again. At that time, Melko had already succeeded in spraying the dark seed of mistrust among the Noldoli, so much that Fëanáro and Fingolma(9) turned against each other, and the former had been banned from Tirion for drawing steel on his own brother. Yet Nólemë had followed his firstborn to Formenos, and thus the Noldoli were divided and bereft of the presence of their King.”

“Why would he do so?” asked Celebrían. “Is it not said of the Finwëans that they regarded duty above all else, even their own families?”

“’Tis true,” answered Gilfanon, “yet Nólemë’s love for his firstborn, the spirit of fire, was great and knew no boundaries. And for a while it seemed that he would succeed in forging a new peace between his sons, so that in that fateful year Fëanáro actually went to the Feast, with his whole household. Yet Nólemë remained in Formenos. And Melko dared in his blasphemous heart to choose the very day of Manwë’s speech upon Taniquetil for the carrying out of his evil plans; for then would Tirion and Valmar and the rock-ringed dale of Sirnúmen be unguarded: for against whom indeed had Elf or Vala need to guard in those old days?”

“We were fools,” Vainóni added quietly. “and the Valar let themselves be blinded by their own strength and thought themselves safe. They truly believed that Melko had changed his ways after his long imprisonment and knew not that he had, indeed, won allies among their own people.”

“There were other Valar who joined the enemy?” asked Celebrían in shock.

“There were such who listened to his whispers,” Vainóni corrected, “’til it poisoned their minds completely; and no-one knows what has become of Makar and Meássë, at least none of us. For ‘tis said that after the theft of the Jewels and the slaying of Nólemë they would ride in all haste north with their folk, but either they were too late or Melko’s cunning defeated them – and their minds were not oversubtle, if I may say so. For no glimpse of those Ainur was seen in Valinor ever again, though assuredly they did escape with Melko after the killing of the Trees, and worked much evil after in the world.”

“And yet none are there whom I have heard tell ever of the manners of their perilous flight back to the ice-kingdoms of the North,” added Gilfanon, “though in the dark depths of Utumno many terrible creatures lived. Who knows what has become of them, after Melko had bound with the matter of Arda permanently and thus achieved a power over it unlike any other Ainur before? Some say ‘twas no accident that Kosomot(10) was so much stronger than the other Valarauki(11) – that he might not have been a Maia at the beginning but something even more powerful. And who knows where Thuringwethil(12) had come from? These were the strongest, most malevolent servants of Morgoth, save the one that still hovers in Middle-earth.”

“We should continue our tale another time,” said Vainóni, seeing a merry gathering below. "Let us join the others for midday meal and ask them if they wished to listen, too.”

Gilfanon agreed, and so they descended from the talan and joined Legolas and his people who were about to sit down for the first real meal of the day.


End notes:

(1) Earlier name of Melkor.

(2) “Kindred of Aulë” – name of the Noldoli who remained in Valinor.

(3) This family relation is made up by me – it obviously is not a canon fact.

(4) In the early mythology this was the name of Time, the first of the Ainur. Since Vairë, too, wears the name of a Vala, I thought her son could do so as well.

(5) Makar and Meássë were barbaric warrior deities, borrowed from Scandinavian mythology and discarded at an early time.

(6) See: “The Book of Lost Tales 1”, p. 151.

(7) See: “Innocence”, Ch 1: The Foundling.

(8) Earlier name of Finwë.

(9) Another earlier name of Finwë. I use it here as a name for Fingolfin.

(10) Early name of Gothmog, Lord of the Balrogs – from a time where he was actually the son of Melko.

(11) Balrogs (Quenya).

(12) Vampire bat, a messenger of Sauron from Tol-in-Gaurhoth, the Isle of the Werewolves.


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