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2
Of Sea-food and Old Friends

Author’s notes:
I decided to let Voronwë remain a little longer in Middle-earth and send him to the West with Gildor’s parents in a later chapter.

As for Galdor: according to The Book of Lost Tales Part 2, there was a Galdor in Gondolin, and in a rather high position. A name list for Gondolin states:

"Galdor was that valiant Gnome (an earlier name for the Noldor that has been abandoned later) who led the men of the Tree in many a charge and yet won out of Gondolin and even the onslaught of Melko (earlier name for Melkor/Morgoth) upon the dwellers at Sirion's mouth and went back to the ruins [of Gondolin] with Eärendel (later: Eärendil). He dwelleth yet in Tol Eressëa, and still do some of his folk name themselved Nos Galdon, for Galdon is a tree and thereto Galdor's name akin."

Well, I changed the background of poor Galdor quite a lot. First, I made him a Telerin Elf, presuming that many of the other Elven kindred might have sought protection in Gondolin. Second, I let him come back with the Host of the Valar and stay in the Grey Havens for another Age or two – simply because I wanted him and Círdan's messenger at Elrond's Council to be the same person.

According the canon, of course they are not! But making him one of the survivors of Gondolin, I wanted Glorfindel to have at least one person somewhat closer to his own age. If you read my Glorfindel-story (A Tale of Never-Ending Love), you'll see, of course, that Glorfindel is even a lot older than that.

There also had been another Legolas Greenleaf in Gondolin (at least according to the Book of Lost Tales Part 2), who helped Idril, Turgon's daughter to escape after the fall of the city. The List of Names in Gondolin states:

"Legolas or Greenleaf'' was a man of the Tree [also one of Galdor's followers], who led the exiles over Tumladin in the dark, being night-sighted, and he liveth still in Tol Eressëa, named by the Elves there Laiqalassë..."

(This last bit has been added for Cirdan’s sake who wanted this older Legolas in the story so much! You basically gave me the feasting hall of your namesake, after all. :)


~~~

Chapter 2: Of Sea-food and Old Friends

The singing and dancing and merriment lasted all night; and so did the eating and drinking. The feasting hall of the Sea Palace, through the transparent floor of which the never-resting movements of the Sea could be seen, was full of people. Unlike other Elf-Lords, Círdan preferred not being seated around a large table with his guests. Several long, narrow tables framed the walls instead, loaded with different sorts of excellent seafood, and the guests walked to and fro, to a bit here and a piece there, tried many different dishes ere they settled for what tasted to them best, talking and jesting and watching the fish and other creatures of the Sea under their feet.

Glorfindel was in his best mood in a long time. Ever since he returned to Middle-earth, the Sea called to him with murmured promises that one day he might set sail for the West again. At times he wondered if it were not better to live somewhere deeper on the festland, where the lure of the Sea was not so strong. But it was not his decision. If Elrond wanted to live in Gil-galad’s court, he, too, would stay.

He wondered idly where his young friend might be – unlike others, he noticed the sudden disappearance of the Peredhel and hoped that the High King would take no offence. Gil-galad could be nasty if things went against his wishes, and he wanted his court to partake in the Festival. The fact that Gildor was nowhere to be seen, either, gave the ancient Elf a hint for the activities Elrond might be involved in. Glorfindel smiled silently. Mayhap Gildor would be able to shake Elrond out of his pensive mood.

He strolled with his plate to the nearest table and helped himself to another generous amount of that excellent seaweed salad (the one with the tiny fried crabs and squid rings in it, sprinkled with that delicious spicy sauce), and closed his eyes in bliss before taking the first bit. The cuisine of the Sea-Elves was the best he tried in both his lives, so far.

“I cannot understand what Turgon had against seafood,” he murmured, rolling an especially juicy piece of crab flesh around on his tongue.

“I believe he rather had something against the Sea,” an eerily familiar voice answered from behind his back. “Small wonder, if you consider how much he had lost to it.”

Glorfindel rather unceremoniously swallowed his bite of choice and whirled around, facing a tall, silver-haired Elf whom he had not seen since the fall of Gondolin.

“Galdor?” he asked in utter disbelief. “Galdor from the Folk of the Tree? How in Mandos have you come here?”

“’Tis I who should ask that question,” the silver-haired one laughed. “I was not the one who had been killed by the Balrog, buried and grieved for ’til the end of the First Age. There are still songs sung about your last battle, my friend. You have become a legend.”

“Oh, speak not of such things, I beg you,” Glorfindel answered with a wry smile; the whole fuss around his person never failed to make him uncomfortable; besides, slaying the Balrog was not his last battle, having fought through the War of Wrath on Eönwë’s side. “Believe me, I am still the same one I was in our days of Gondolin’s glory.”

“Nay, I think not,” the Telerin Elf shook his silver head after giving his friend of old a good, close look. “Not that it would surprise me, mind you. For though ’tis said that we can be released from Mandos’ Halls at the proper time, you are the only one who has returned, so far.”

“That might be so,” Glorfindel agreed quietly, “and mayhap I truly have changed. Death is a powerful experience.” He shivered for a moment, then shook off the memories with practiced ease. “But you, my friend – do tell me how come that I still meet you here? I was told that you sailed to Tol Eressëa, accompanying Idril and Tuor with Legolas and the rest of your people.”

“I did,” Galdor snatched a particularly appealing piece of crab flesh from Glorfindel’s plate, which earned him a slap on the fingers, but he popped it into his mouth nevertheless, “yet I became restless, very soon. The fate of my home of old let me not sit around idly, while the war still was going on. So I offered my help on the ships that brought the Host of the Valar back to Middle-earth, and remained with Círdan after Beleriand had been drowned. We are kinsmen, after all, though I am two generations removed from him(1).”

“Five hundred years, and I saw you not once,” Glorfindel shook his head in disbelief, quickly removing his plate from Galdor’s reach. “Get your own food, long-fingered Sea-Elf, there is enough left! I prefer to eat my own meals by myself!”

“We rarely were on the same place,” Galdor replied, filling his own plate generously and in no hurry at all. “I was on the ships during the whole War, not on the battlefields; then I helped ferrying the Edain to their new home. Even stayed with them for a while… until King Tar-Minyatur’s passing.” His sea-grey eyes clouded with sorrow. “He was a great King of his own people, Glorfindel, the little son of Eärendil. He ruled wisely. Turgon would have been proud of him.”

“I doubt it not,” Glorfindel sighed, “but I hardly knew him. What a shame that the children of Idril Celebrindal has become so estranged that they have barely had any contact since Elros left for Númenórë!”

“They are… were both annoyingly stubborn,” Galdor nodded. “A trait they inherited from our late King, no doubt. Though I heard that Elwë was little better in this manner…”

“So I was told by the survivors of Doriath,” Glorfindel agreed with a sad smile. “Pride and arrogance have always been the downfall of our great Houses – and mine was no exception, even though I was their leader by choice only, not by blood(2). But let us the dead rest in peace, my friend. We cannot change what has been done wrongly, no matter how much we would want to. Our eyes must look into the future now.”

“Truer words have never been spoken,” Galdor laughed quietly. “I must admit, I rather enjoy my second stay in Middle-earth. I might even build my own home in Mithlond, now that the great labours have been finished. So, do tell me, how is Eärendil’s eldest faring? Despite their estrangement, the death of his brother surely hit him hard.”

“He is very good at hiding his feelings,” Glorfindel shrugged. “It has to be something he learnt while living with Maglor, I deem. As for tonight, I cannot be sure, of course, but I do believe he has found some comfort – in the company of a friend. Mayhap ’tis the best. Better than all the hollow words of wisdom I could offer.”

“That is what festivals are for,” Galdor agreed with a thoughtful smile. “Even if it seems that you and I have grown too old for it already. Or else we would not stand here, talking about old times, would we?”

“’Tis not about age,” said Glorfindel. “Compared to me, you are but a child, even though you belong to the Elder of our kin in Middle-earth now. But I am bound, my friend, and I intend to remain faithful.”

“I think not that Idril would still hold you to your oath, sworn in another time and in another life.” Galdor shook his head. “You have been re-made, different now; every one can see it. I do understand that you keep your word to protect her offspring, but that means not that you have to be lonely.”

“I am not,” Glorfindel smiled, “and you are right in one thing: my one-sided bond to Turgon’s daughter has been severed when I was re-made. ’Tis a different bond that has kept me ever since the end of the War… one of the spirits, rather than one of the heart.”

“I have heard of it… from the Lady Uinen,” Galdor admitted, “but I always thought it to be something akin Círdan’s bond to her and to the Lord Ossë.”

“And just who knows what the true nature of that bond might be?” Glorfindel asked. “I certainly do not; nor is it my wish to dig too deeply. The ties that bond me go further, though, it seems. Even though my oath demands from me to remain here as long as one of Idril’s descendants remains.”

“Then you have a long way to go ere you can be reunited with your chosen one,” said Galdor after a lengthy silence. Glorfindel nodded.

“That I have. But I am old enough to be patient. Yet what about you? Why are you alone in a night like this? ’Tis not the way of the Teleri to spend their greatest festival in solitude.”

“Nor is it mine,” Galdor smiled, “and I have not come alone. We just kept out the crowd… until I saw you here. Voronwë dislikes being crowded, you know that.”

Glorfindel stopped eating. In fact, he very nearly stopped breathing at all. To say that he was stunned would have been an understatement.

Voronwë?” he repeated. “You mean Voronwë, son of Aranwë? Our companion of old from Gondolin? Did he not sail away with Idril and Tuor?(3)”

“He was supposed to,” said Galdor with unmistakable sadness in his voice, “yet he shied back in the last moment. As much as he loves the Sea, he also is horrified to board a ship again… after what has happened to him in the last time. Nay, he dwelt with Círdan on Balar, for he was unable to leave the Sea either; then, after the drowning of the island he moved to Harlond. I found out about him less than ten years ago.”

“It must be very hard on him.” Glorfindel slowly digested the fact that another lost friend just appeared out of thin air. “Of all of us, he longed to go to the West the most.”

“He very nearly lost his mind in the loneliness of his house,” Galdor nodded. “He had not left it for years when I found him. It took me about a year to lure him out of it. Another one to get him on my ship while it was laying at the quay. And this is the first time I could make him sail up the Gulf with me and join the Festival.”

“’Tis sad,” said Glorfindel; “for sooner or later, he would have to master his fears, or else the sea-longing would kill him. He had been caught by it even before Turgon sent him out on that disastrous journey.”

“He is fading already,” Galdor added, full of sorrow, “and naught but the Blessed Realm could save him. He knows it, too. But he still fears the Sea too much.”

He paused, then he gave Glorfindel a pleading look.

“Would you not come and speak to him? Meeting an old friend might lift his spirits a little. And in his current state of mind he desperately needs it.”

“Sure,” Glorfindel nodded. “Seeing him would lift my spirits as well, I believe. See that we find a bottle of good wine somewhere and let us go.”

~~~

End notes:

(1) The exact nature of Círdan’s kinship with half of the Telerin Elves is as much a mystery for me as for most people. I have my very own theory about the Awakening at Cuiviénen, assuming that the ones the Elves awoke together were not their pre-determined spouses but their siblings (sort of), so let’s assume that Galdor descended from a sibling of Círdan’s.

(2) Which is another idea made up by me entirely. Since my Glorfindel was one of the very Firstborn, and he never married, I needed another way how he could have his own House. I simply made some Elves of mixed Vanyarin/Noldorin descent choose him to be their Lord.

(3) Yes, I know that he most likely did. I just postponed his journey a little. I’ll send him “home” ere this story is finished. I promise.


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