"I've wanted to see this for years," Legolas said, frowning intently upon the large book as he carefully turned the pages.
"Years or yéni?" Gimli asked, although he knew the answer. "And how could you want to see something that you didn't know existed?"
"Yéni," said Legolas absently. "I don't mean the book. I mean the tale, or more specifically, the version told by the Noldor, curse their uppity hearts. They've always claimed the story was a Silvan blasphemy."
"Hmm," Gimli said, his eye caught by a lurid drawing of a fat woman giving birth to people, horses, dogs, dragons…someone had an imagination.
"And that's another one," said Legolas, stabbing his finger at the woman's dark and sensual face. "The Noldor hate the tale of the Great Mother. Glorfindel…."
Gimli recognized that slow, crafty smile and the half-shut eyes. Glorfindel was due for a surprise.
The Passions of Manwë
Many times did Manwë bring grief to the heart of Varda, for his lusts befitted his majesty and supremacy. From his unions with the Maiar were born many lesser powers, guardians of the fruits and beasts of the fields of Valinor. Most famous was Dionaisë, the lord of the grape, from which springs much pleasure.
It was yet spring in Aman when the Eagle brought back word to Valinor of the strange and beautiful creatures newly found on Middle-Earth, their misty eyes just opened to the light of the stars.
Manwe wondered at the tales. Tell me more of the Children of Ilúvatar, he commanded his messenger.
"O Lord," said the Eagle, "one there is of a beauty surpassing even that of Varda herself. Of burnished gold is her hair, her side is white and soft, and the bees kiss her lips. Her eyes are the color of the sea."
And Manwe was seized with a great longing to behold this new being. He raised his arms and called upon his powers. His flowing blue robes became the swift feathers of a white Eagle; his hands lengthened for flight; his feet sharpened into talons. His keen blue eyes, all-seeing, remained, piercing his snowy Eagle's brow.
He lifted into the air upon his great wings and flew over sea to Middle-earth, marveling at the world the Great Father had made. Mountain, lake, rivers, vast plains, birds, animals
fighting, loving—all these things he knew. He sought ever the new beings of whom his messengers had told him.
She was bathing in the cool, clear waters of a mountain lake when he found her. The snowy white wings gripped her inexorably, yet with the tenderness of a baby's breath. And of the union of Manwë to Valameldë, Beloved of the Vala, came two of the most beautiful children of the world, each in a pale blue egg.
Conceived of Ainu and Elda, of Eagle and woman, of a secret mating, the children had a strange nature and a strange fate.
First born was Loqë, he who laughs at death and makes mockery of gods, Elves and Men. Ever he whispers against the laws of his father, the king of the Valar, urging the Children to question the One's commands. For his transgressions Manwë has pronounced doom upon him, and sent his herald to bring him for judgment, but Loqë is a shape-changer. All creatures that hide in the shadows are his children, the owl and the hare, the pike in the dark stream, and the bats in the deep caves.
His sister is Thuriel, the secret woman. In the tangled wilderness between the enchanted mists of the Girdle of Melian and the rank evil of Morgoth's lands, she dwells alone. No man walks through her land unchanged.
Some see a wrinkled old woman who speaks of fate and fortune. Ever after they seek the end she had promised, wife and children abandoned, oaths foresworn.
Some see a mourning mother, crying out for her lost children in inconsolable grief. Ever after they shake with fear, looking always behind them, and their courage is ruined forever.
But the greatest misfortune of all befalls those who see her as a woman of unearthly beauty. When she lets fall the robe from her shoulders and opens her legs to her besotted lover, he is her thrall forever. Never again will he leave his seed in any other woman.
These unions brought grief to Varda, and she sought to restrain her lord, but he would not be denied. Ever and anon he would fly across the seas to Middle-earth. But Manwë was caught in his own web on the day he first beheld Glorfindel of Gondolin.
On the lush green grasses a bevy of handsome youths sported, shining in their nakedness. One there was of surpassing beauty, muscular, silver-eyed and golden-haired. The Great Eagle bore down upon him and, grasping the struggling youth in his mighty talons, took him away to the great distress of his companions.
In Valinor Glorfindel became Manwë's cupbearer, and Varda passed many lonely nights, weeping in her bower. Manwë never again knew true peace.
Some dispute this tale, and say that Glorfindel was a mortal youth and that Manwë soon tired of him. Then Irildë the Maia took him to husband, and wishing that she might enjoy his company forever, begged of Manwë to make him immortal. But she forgot to ask for his eternal youth, and so he withered and shrank until he became a cricket. At night we hear his singing, remembering his lost youth and love.
Others say that both these tales are true, and they speak of different men of the same name. Neither of these Glorfindels is to be confused with the hero of the House of the Golden Flower, the great Balrog-slayer.